Power Girl (vol.2) #7 (February, 2010)
“Lust in Space”
Writers – Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist – Amanda Conner
Colorist – Paul Mounts
Letterer – John J. Hill
Associate Editor – Rachel Gluckstern
Editors – Bryan Cunningham & Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $2.99
Woof… what a time I had tracking this one down.
Visited all of the shops within a 50 mile radius (and called shops upwards of two-hours away… and nobody had it! Heck, most of them didn’t even realize there was a Power Girl series pre-Flashpoint! I tell ya, you get some odd looks as a stocky bearded man when you ask if they have “any more Power Girl“. The things I do for this blog…
Anyhoo, I managed to come across this one in a disorganized last ditch 50-cent bin dive… I guess luck was on our side! Or maybe, just maybe, it was a Vartox Week Miracle! This copy does have a bit of a scuffed up cover, which is probably why it’s been left to rot in a 50-cent bin, but that’s okay. Not like I’m planning on flipping any of the Tomes of Vartox… to do so would make me rather a heathen.
I was unable to find the two follow up issues to this one though. No shops in the Central Arizona area has ’em… so, unless I just happen across ’em at a Used Books Store or a Record Store, we’re going to bounce around Vartoxville a bit from here on out.
We open on… Valeron! Vartox the Hyper-Man (the Hyper-Man?) is battling Kashkavon Yeti Pirates. One of whom refers to him as a “Tynolan”. Being the Vartox-savvy readers we are now… that just doesn’t make sense. Vartox only found his home on Tynola after the destruction of Valeron. Feels like we’re getting a bit fast and loose with the main man’s origin. Anyhoo, he’s victorious… only, as a parting shot the Yeti’s detonate a Contraceptive Bomb in the Heart of Valeron’s capital… Crystal City. Now, the Valerians will not be able to reproduce!
So, it will be left to Vartox… the Manliest Man who ever Manned (and the lone non-sterile Valerian) to keep Valeron pumping out babies. For which, he’ll need a suitable mate.
Valeron Chancellor… Groovicus Mellow… offers Vartox a few pennies for his thoughts, and it’s clear from the get-go, he’s chosen Power Girl for to makin’ da babies. He compares her “physical endowments” to be on par with his own. Which… I mean, I don’t have any measuring tape… so, we’ll just take his word for it.
Speaking of Power Girl… on Earth, she and Dr. Mid-Nite are tracking down the villainous Blue Snowman. Blue Snowman’s caption refers to their being an old Wonder Woman villain… and, they ain’t lying! First Appearance: Sensation Comics #59 (November, 1946). Only appeared a handful of times… and, far as I can tell, this issue was the first time since the late 1940’s that they’d appear.
Pee-Gee and Mid-Nite make short work of the baddie… and take a moment to admire their pipe (because, snowmen need pipes, ya see). They deduce that there is likely millions of dollars worth of tech in the thing… and what the Snowman was trying to steal wasn’t worth half’a that.
This chat is interrupted by the arrival of… Oh. My. God. Vartox has a spacecraft shaped like his head. He makes his intentions clear… he’s here for Kara Zor-L.
Also, we get a caption telling us that Vartox’s real name is Vernon O’Valeron… which, ya know… it ain’t. That was a phony civilian ID that he and Superman came up with back in the long ago, so Var could pose as a Galaxy Building Security Guard. Vartox is Vartox.
Neither Kara nor Pieter are all that impressed. And so, get this… Vartox fires off his “musk” in their direction. It apparently smells like “burnt armpit hair and elephant urine”… and it’s enough to kayo poor ol’ Mid-Nite. Vartox shrugs it off… ya see, his seduction musk ain’t for dudes. Kara isn’t affected… which doesn’t seem to trouble Var as much as you’d think.
Then… Blue Snowman wakes up, removes her helmet… and charges at Vartox, intoxicated by the musk!
Unable to win Kara over with his words, Vartox decides to impress her with his fighting prowess. He summons forth an IX Negaspike via a transport leash… which kinda looks like Zack Morris’s cellphone.
Blue Snowman hops into battle to protect her beloved Vartox… and is… uh, eaten. Like, right away.
Vartox is then smashed by the Negaspike, sending him through a bunch of walls, Looney Tunes style. He hits so hard that the transport leash breaks!
Power Girl attempts to take care of business… however, the beast is far too strong. Vartox shakes it off and leaps back into the fray… but is equally ineffective. Kara decides to buy them a moment of time by Fastball-Specialing the Negaspike into a nearby mountain range.
As they pursue the beast, Vartox reveals that this is a futile venture… the Negaspike is un-defeatable. Ya see, he was just going to fight it a little while before using his transport leash to send it back home… making it look like he’d bested it in battle. Now that the transport leash is busted… looks like they’re kinda outta luck.
Power Girl ain’t pleased… heck, she ain’t even flattered. At this point, however, she does tell Vartox to quit referring to himself in the third person. Oh by the way, Vartox has been referring to himself in the third person for this entire issue up to this point.
We wrap up with Power Girl using her super-breath to freeze the Nagaspike… then she shatters it with a punch. Vartox is all… “you might not have wanted to do that…” because, ya see… all of the Negaspike bits… have already grown into full-blown beasts of their own!
Okay… this might just be my favorite thing right now. I had so much fun reading this that I don’t know where to start.
I suppose I could get my continuity-crankiness out of the way first, right? I mean… if I didn’t address this stuff, what kind of continuity-crank would I be? Probably a happier one…
This is kind of a mishmash of everything we knew about Vartox… the Valeron/Tynola bit… and also, his “civilian identity”… when it was established that Vartox never had one on Valeron, he was simply Vartox. I suppose as a “funny, ha-ha”, Vernon O’Valeron works as good as any… it’s just a funny name.
Now, this is what I always assumed Vartox to be… a sorta gigolo, an egotist… I mean, he just looks the part. So, when we went all the way back through his roots over the past several weeks of Vartox Week (hrmm), I was rather taken aback by just how wrong my first impression was.
I will say, initially… I was a bit turned off by the depiction in this very issue for reducing the character to… I dunno, acting like he dressed? I’m not sure I’m explaining that all that well… hopefully you get my jist. He’s always looked like a goofball gigolo… and now he’s acting the part. Ya dig?
That having been said… maybe it’s a case of my own confirmation bias (is that the right term?) trumping my normally slavish adherence to continuity, but… man, I loved this. Everything from Vartox’s head-shaped ship… to him firing his phermones… to his trying to impress Kara by fighting an unwinnable fight. This Vartox certainly “brought” the charm… in spades!
And of course… that art. Damn. I can’t for the life of me figure out why we haven’t covered more Amanda Conner books here on the blog… I think this might only be the second one! We’re going to have to do something about that… this is pure candy. Amazing work… really couldn’t imagine this issue having the same charm under anyone else’s pencils.
Overall… this gets a tremendously high recommendation… continuity coughs and all. If you’re trying to track it down, I hope your hunt is a lot easier than mine! This issue has been collected in the Power Girl: Power Trip trade paperback, and is available digitally. Run, don’t walk!