Within the offices of the Global Wrestling Association, three women listened to their employer as he addressed them from behind a massive oak desk. His name was Cameron Courtney, and he was something of a broken man. He stared at them sadly and stumbled for his words as he fumbled idly with a large ring on his left hand.
“Ladies, I suppose you’ve figured out why I’ve asked you to join me here today,” he said. “I may be an old man, but I recall just how quickly news used to spread around the locker rooms when I was a young lion in the wrestlin’ arena!”
He looked at each of the woman intently with a genuine and almost paternal concern etched upon his weathered and wrinkled face. The three women were all young and attractive, but they differed from each other in every other way.
The first woman was a tall and well-built blonde. She wore a sweatshirt and shorts, and she frowned at the older man with a look of obvious anger.
The second woman was petite and wore her dark black hair in a short but feminine style. She was wearing a casual but neat dress of light blue. She looked at him with more understanding than her larger ally expressed.
The final woman was strikingly beautiful and lacked the more athletic manner of the other two, but made up for it with her own glamor. She wore a faux mink coat over a stylish, if revealing gown. She played with her long, slightly curly brown hair as her employer talked.
The big blonde interrupted Cameron and said, “Look, boss man, we know the score. Certain other wrestling promotions have been cutting into your profits. We can’t get a decent pay-per-view deal, and more of the smaller bookers no longer want to work with you, out of fear that they’ll anger the bigger companies that are driving you out of business! I guess you’ve decided to cut corners, and we’re the first three to go!”
The demure black-haired woman placed one hand on her friend’s muscled arm and said, “Easy, Barb! Court’s not happy about this situation, either!”
Barb smirked slightly and said, “No? Still, he’s not the one getting the proverbial pink-slip!”
Cameron Courtney sighed and said, “Thank you for your support, Debbie. I am sorry to have to let you go, but I can’t afford to keep you on any longer. I’ll be gradually eliminating all our female sports entertainers.”
The woman in the fur coat looked tearful and said, “But Cameron, you can’t let me go! I’m your wife!”
Barb laughed harshly and said, “Are you loopy? You play the role of his wife on the TV spots. Your nickname is Trophy Wife. Don’t tell me you’ve started to confuse the part you play with your real life!”
“Of course not!” said Tiffany. “I know I’m just Cam’s spouse on the shows, but what will the fans think if you suddenly show up without me by your side?”
“Tiffany, you know how we handle these things,” said Cameron. “I’ll merely write an angle in which I leave you for one of the girls we’re keeping on salary. That will create some heat and buy us some time.”
Tiffany pouted and said, “Cammy, how could you? I was going to have a Trophy Wife doll!”
He shook his head and said, “I am sorry, but your contracts allow for this type of termination. I simply can’t afford to keep you three anymore.”
They filed out of the office and started to separate when a curious-looking man approached them. He wore a bright red uniform with gold braid on the shoulders and chest. He tipped his hat and smiled vacantly at them. His face was inhumanly pale except for two red spots next to each corner of his mouth.
“A toy soldier? Get a load of Pinocchio, here!” barked Barb. “Cameron thinks he can create interest in a wrestler who pretends to be a wooden doll! The old coot is senile!”
The smarter Debbie shook her head and said, “Barb, that’s not a guy! He really is made of wood or painted metal!”
Tiffany gasped and said, “He’s a robot! Talk about trying to save a buck! Cameron must be planning to replace all the wrestlers with machines!”
The weird robotic man merely stopped marching and bowed slightly as he extended his arms and held out a white card with ornate writing on the top.
“He wants my autograph!” said Tiffany.
“No!” said Debbie. “It is an invitation of some kind. It is addressed to all of us!”
Barb elbowed her aside and snatched the card out of her hand. “Say, the pixie is right! The three of us are cordially invited to hear about a new business opportunity that guarantees to be full of fun and games!” she read slowly.
“I don’t know,” said Tiffany. “I figured I would just see if one of the other wrestling companies would like to hire my Trophy Wife character or maybe revive my old role of Vicki Van Dough!”
“No wrestling company could have resources like this,” said Debbie. “The message came from a real robot! I’m going to check it out. Are you with me, Barb?”
Barb nodded and smiled broadly. “Sure! It’s not like I got a better offer!” she said.
The robotic soldier stood up and led them out of the building and into what would prove to be a life-altering offer.
The three women found themselves within a large, brightly decorated house full of complex machines and strange devices. The house had the quaint appearance of a fairy tale cottage combined with a futuristic technological factory. But nothing in the strange house could have prepared the trio for the owner himself.
As Tiffany, Barb, and Debbie looked around the odd structure, a high-pitched, grating laugh rang out as a nimble figure suddenly burst into the room and turned a series of cartwheels. He was a small man with a messy shock of reddish-blond hair and a slightly dirty, freckled face. He grinned and adjusted the purple overalls he wore as he clicked his oversized tennis shoes together.
“Hiya, girls! Welcome to the Toyland! Pretty nifty place, isn’t it? Some fellas would say you gals have cooties, but not the Toyman! You see, I rather like playing with girls. It’s fun to make them cry!” he said in a frantic and near breathless gasp.
“Toyman! You’re some kind of super-nut!” cried Barb.
He stuck out his tongue, which glowed a shade of pale green, and then he said, “I’m the Toyman. That’s all I have ever been, and that’s all I want to be. Wouldn’t you like to be me? I have the bestest toys in the world!”
“We’re wrestlers,” said Debbie. “Are you planning some kind of sporting event?”
Toyman grinned broadly and clapped his gloved hands together merrily. “Oh, yessirree! I plan to sport a whole lot!” he said. “I want to invite you girls to join my gang. I want to help you become more than you are now. Kinda like those cool Transformo robot toys, but in real life. I want to make you my playmates! I’ll promise you lots of great treats, like money and fame and stuff like that, if that’s what ya like!”
“Crime?” said Tiffany. “You want to make us into super-villains? Well, that would make me famous and wealthy, too!”
“Could you actually give us super-powers?” asked Debbie. “I’ve always wanted to be like Wonder Woman!”
“Huh,” said Barb. “As for me, I’d love to become as strong as Wonder Woman! Imagine what I could do in the ring with her kind of strength!”
“Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!” said the Toyman. “It’s a deal, then? Honest Injun! We’ll have lots of fun! There’s another girl I’ve been wanting to play with again for a while now. You’ll bring her to me after I fix you up!”
Several weeks later, in her private office at STAR Labs, Karen Starr smiled to herself as she turned away from her office computer. The beautiful blonde looked pleased with herself as she stood up and pulled a peach-colored blazer over the white blouse and peach skirt that she was wearing.
Back when I was living in the Fortress and Clark was training me, he was always going on and on about learning to work at normal speed so I could easily fit into a normal work setting and not reveal my alien origins, she thought. However, there’s nothing like finishing a big project in a matter of minutes. That gives this Power Girl a chance to perform more stimulating tasks, like bashing the Fiddler or rounding up the Black Lynx Gang!
She smiled again as she recalled the recent news she had received from her cousin Clark Kent. As Superman, he had captured and defeated his old foe Colonel Future after a prolonged hunt for the criminal. (*) That burden had been removed from the aging hero’s shoulders, and Karen was happy to think that the always-concerned Clark might be able to relax a bit, now that the matter had been resolved.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: Future Generation.]
Clark deserves a break, she thought. The poor guy should consider hanging up his cape for good. I can handle things, along with occasional help from the JSA and Superboy. After nearly fifty years in a costume, Superman’s earned a peaceful retirement! After all, I’m not exactly a rookie. I’ve seen more than my share of weirdness during my own time in a costume! It’s not like I surprise easily!
At that moment, a lovely if demure young woman with brown hair and glasses raced into the office, closed the door behind her, and switched on a small TV that rested in a cluttered bookcase in Karen’s office.
Karen frowned as her loyal assistant Tracy Owens caught her breath and pointed to the TV.
“Tracy! What in the world has you so worked up? Don’t tell me it’s another Corey Hart video!” she said as she placed her hands on her hips in impatience.
Tracy shook her head and turned up the sound on the small set. “No! I thought I’d better show you the news! A super-villain is robbing the Action Figure Expo!” she said as she smoothed her short brown skirt and adjusted her slightly crooked glasses.
Karen nodded in approval. Tracy knew her boss was secretly the maid of steel and the timid girl had proven to be a valuable and loyal ally. (*) “Don’t sweat it, Trace! I’ll fly over and make sure truth, justice, and the American way triumph!” she said as she began to unzip her skirt.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: My Killer Unknown, Chapter 2: Secret Identities.]
Tracy shook her head vigorously and said, “That’s why I’m excited! You already are doing that!” She pointed again to the live news report, which showed Power Girl flying above a group of robotic wooden soldiers.
As Karen swiftly exposed the white, red, and blue costume of Power Girl, she gasped, “Great Krypton! Not another evil twin!”