Two young women sat together in one of Gotham’s finer eating establishments. The darker one wore a black sweater and slacks, while her blonde friend was clothed in a green miniskirt and blouse.
Helena Wayne smiled as she teased Karen Starr, alias Kara Zor-L. “It’s good for us to get together like this and finally talk things over, like your engagement to Dick,” said Helena. (*) “I’d never even realized what a couple you two were until you told me. Some great detective!” She laughed.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Red Robin: Auld Lang Syne, Chapter 4: Eternal Youth.]
Karen merely smiled and said, “My parents were so pleased. They think that Dev hung the Moon of Wegthor or something! He is their pet!”
Helena frowned. “Hello? Karen? Who is Dev, and what do you mean your parents like him?”
Karen shrugged. “What did I just say? I know my parents would have approved of Dick if they had met him. In a way they did when we travelled back in time to meet them via Professor Nichol’s hypnosis, and I think they would admire him as a potential husband for their girl.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 1: Return to Krypton.]
Helena nodded and glanced up as a blond man approached them. “Company with eyes for a certain hot blonde,” she whispered.
Karen rolled her eyes, then looked up and — to Helena’s surprise — the acerbic girl smiled. “Hello, Devin!” she gushed. “This is Devin Willis from UCC. He is working with me at my new company on a joint software project between STAR and my old stomping grounds. Devin, this is Helena Wayne. You’ve heard her name before from me.”
Helena smiled and shook hands with the rugged blond man from the Ultimate Computer Corporation, Karen’s former employer.
“Glad to know any friend of Karen’s,” he said. “She’s a treasure to work with.”
Karen giggled demurely and swatted him on the wrist while Helena frowned and mused, What pod person has replaced Kara?
Later, as Helena stopped by Freeman’s Newsstand on her way home, she flipped through a few magazines and was about to purchase a paper when a famous face caught her eye. It was a fashion magazine of the more explicit type, and the cover model wore a red cape and nothing more. Power Girl Reveals All! blazed the headline.
Helena grabbed it up and said, “What has gotten into her?” She had found a new mystery to solve, all right.
Power Girl smashed her fists through an oak table and watched it crumble to splinters. “I’ll kill them!” she raged. “I’ll rip their eyes out! I’ll send them flying out of their skyscraper in a single bound!” She angrily looked again at the magazine’s layout, which displayed a completely costumeless, nude Power Girl.
“Easy, Kara,” said Helena. “They’re located in London. We can just sue them. I am a lawyer. They obviously faked them and slapped your head on the model’s body.”
“I don’t want the dry satisfaction of a lawsuit,” cried Kara. “I want her blood!”
“What do you mean?” said Helena.
“Don’t you get it?” cried Kara. “They didn’t fake anything. This is the work of that giggling witch, the Yellow Peri! She magically did it to me!”
“Well, let’s not jump to conclusions.”
Kara ignored Helena’s warning as she shouted, “You’re not dressed like some Playdude Bunny and undressed in color across the centerfold of a men’s fashion magazine! Of course the Peri whipped it up via her magic. It’s just the type of stunt that hyper-harem girl would pull on me. You know she says that, as the half-human child of Mr. Mxyztplk who has retired, she delights in tormenting me like her demented daddy did to cousin Kal!”
Helena bravely stepped in front of the rampaging Kryptonian and said, “Kara, you’re acting like a spoiled baby. Now listen to the calm and trained mind of a detective — the daughter of the world’s greatest detective.”
Kara fumed, then ran her hand through her tousled hair. “Sorry. It’s just that the KBI eliminated this kind of thing from Argo City, and just imagine what would happen if baby Kara saw her mother on those vid-tapes wearing nothing!”
“Right,” said Helena. “I can imagine your concern if… your baby daughter saw those tapes, but surely with the mento-detector, the KBI can track down the person behind your pin-ups.” She found herself scrambling for the right words as she watched her angry friend lose herself in some fantasy of life on a living Krypton.
Kara nodded. “So you say the Peri is not behind this, in your opinion?” It was as if her earlier comment about having a little girl on long lost Argo City had never happened. Obviously, from her point of view, it had never happened. She had her cousin’s near-total recall, so her lack of dismay at the hallucinations was even more worrying to her friend.
“No. You told me she was about to marry the addled old king there in her fifth-dimensional home when you last fought her, and she clearly resented the old man’s attraction to you,” said Helena. (*) “She’s not likely to lure you there anytime soon. She’d come here and show herself to you, but not bring you back to where the old king could go ga-ga over those legs.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 2: In Search of Superman.]
“So what do we do, mistress of logic?” taunted Kara as she tapped a booted foot impatiently.
“Well, with Dick out of town, I’m your world’s best teammate, and I say you should notice where this skin mag came from — London,” said Helena. “As in home of the exact double Luthor made of you once before — Nike!”
“Yeah! Dick came up with the deduction that Nike was the Bizarro-double Luthor made of me back in 1959,” said Kara. “That baby grew up to be Nike, and she has all my powers and a bad attitude. She looks just like me, so she could well have posed for the pictures using my name. I hate that she is Nike, since that baby was Linda Danvers, the foster girl raised by the kindly Danvers who took me in when the red kryptonite left me a dazed and powerless teen back then. (*) It would hurt them to know their kid turned out so bad. But you are the daughter of the Batman, and everything you say makes sense. Let’s go to England, and let’s find Nike.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 3: Second Childhood.]
Helena dressed quickly, and soon the Huntress and Power Girl flew off at top speed toward England.
At that moment, a blonde woman wearing a black leather bikini with thigh-high boots swooped inside and said, “I’m in. She fell for the bait, just like I told you she would. I know that chippy, since I am her, ya might say, luv!” she laughed.
“Now for a quick costume change and a phone call to dear cousin Clark,” she said. “Wonderful what a bit o’ x-ray vision, super-hearin’, and super-speed can turn up!” She laughed again.
A voice echoed in her ear via super-ventriloquism. “You have pleased me well, dear Nike,” said a rich voice. “The enemy who ruined me long ago on Krypton shall pay for his deeds at long last.”
As Power Girl carried the Huntress across the ocean, she said, “You know, I’m sorry to always blow up at you and everyone around me. I think part of that anger is due to the fact that I am a toddler when it comes to human relationships. I mean, I was born about the same time Clark was back on Krypton around World War I, but due to the fact that my father’s rocket took a slower path here, and my aging was slowed through one of his devices, I only got here a few years ago. Then I emerged here a full-grown woman who had never even had an adult conversation — or any conversation, for that matter — with another human that was not a faked virtual memory created by the Symbioship that carried me here and entertained me with false memories of a whole twenty-year lifespan! (*) I guess I don’t know much about how to relate to other people.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl, Showcase #97 (February, 1978).]
“Those false memories of growing up in Argo City with Zor-L and Allura on a Krypton that never exploded are special to you,” said Helena, “since they represent all you know of the world and family you left behind. But like you said, honey, they are artificially created ones. You’ve got a family here now. Clark, Lois, Dick, and I are your family.”
Kara nodded. “On Krypton, family images are ingrained on mento-disks for safekeeping — a type of holographic family album. I recall my first Rao ball. I wore my hair up for the first time and felt like such a grown woman. My escort Rem-Ty came in a loaned skimmer, and we stayed out to watch the nightwing flock until dawn.”
“Kara, tell me about your first time here on Earth,” said Helena.
“My rocket landed outside of Gotham, and I was soon discovered by Superman,” explained Kara. “My father actually had no idea that Kal-L had escaped, too. He only knew that his brother Jor-L had planned such an escape for my infant cousin. Thus I arrived on Earth with no idea who or what a Superman was, not like the Earth-One Supergirl, who was told of her already established super-hero cousin before she fled a dying world.
“I was grown, so to speak, yet as I said, all that I had lived had been false memories planted by the Symbioship that were designed to educate me and keep me sane during that long trip. My father was skilled in the mental arts. Too bad he messed me up so badly emotionally.
“Kal was still active at the Daily Star as Clark Kent, editor, and as Superman, one of the first of the mystery-men and a member of the Justice Society. Funny, that name Kal is one he never even used, since he never made some memory-stimulating device like his Earth-One counterpart did until decades later. That’s why he and I both really think of him as Clark Kent, not as Kal. Only I sometimes use the name to hold onto that bit of my lost world. I’m just the opposite. I was never Karen Starr till a few years ago. I think of myself as a Kryptonian woman, not an Earthling. Maybe that’s one reason we clashed so often, especially in the early years.”
“There’s London below,” said the Huntress. “The magazine headquarters is near Carnaby Street.”
They dropped in, and Power Girl was greeted by an oily-looking man in gold chains. “P.G.! Good to see you, babe! The issue is burning up the stands, and the money is already at the charity office you suggested.”
She hefted him skyward and said, “If you don’t want me to rattle your bones like jewelry, mate, you’ll tell me all about the photo shoot and how the deal was made. Refresh my memory.”
“OK, OK, pretty bird!” he said. “You swooped in here and suggested it all. You said you’d pose if we gave a third of the money to charity. We did it. I promised we did. You even picked out the clothes, like that fishnet number!”
The Huntress skimmed a computer screen and said, “The money did go to an orphanage.”
Power Girl threw him into a chair, and it broke into pieces. “OK, so how do you contact me for future shoots?”
He crawled across the floor for the door, but she jumped in front of him, posing with her hands on her hips. She scooped him up and said, “I’m waiting! Or would you like to go outside without your clothes on?”
The man gulped and looked at the fifteen-story drop outside the window. “We have no number. You said you’d call us.”
“It was Nike,” said the Huntress. “Notice the clothes she picked out? They fit her leather girl image.”
“So how do we find her?” asked Power Girl.
“I think she’ll find us,” said the Huntress. “She gained nothing from this but annoying you. She even left the money at a charity. She did this to occupy you. Perhaps, if she is so much like you — I mean, a bizarre, morally flawed version of you — she thinks like you. She assumed you’d head to the fifth dimension, like you almost did until I talked you out of it. She wants you out of the way. I think we’d better head home.”
Power Girl sneered at the photographer. “I just exposed all the negatives in that cabinet with x-ray vision. Forget about a second spread.”
He leered at the Huntress and said, “Hey, baby, how about you posing?”
She smiled. “You couldn’t afford me.”
They left in a rush for America.