Power Girl (vol.2) #8 (March, 2010)
“A Groovy Kind of Love”
Writers – Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art – Amanda Conner
Colors – Paul Mounts
Letters – John J. Hill
Associate Editor – Rachel Gluckstern
Editor – Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $2.99
Welcome friends to the penultimate entry in our Vartox Week Spectacular! We’ll wrap up our deep-dive on The Man tomorrow!
Picking up where we left off last issue, Power Girl and Vartox are fighting off a gaggle of IX Negaspikes, which were created thanks to Kara freezing the one beastie with her super-breath… then shattering it into dozens of pieces… which all grew into their own full-blown IX Negaspike. During the melee, she notices that this new bunch of monsters isn’t quite as alert as the one she destroyed… and so, she has a plan. Vartox isn’t so sure he’s up for a repeat performance.
After Power Girl suggests he might just be scared, he comes around. The pair use their hyper-freezing-breath to ice up all the IX’s… then smash ’em!
Leaving even more of the critters… however, as Power Girl assumed, they are completely docile. Ya see, she figured out that no matter how many bodies the IX Negaspikes were shattered into, there wouldn’t be enough brain-power to keep them all “on task”. They send the now cow-like monstrosities deep into space.
After the dust settles, Vartox makes another plea to Power Girl to hear him out about why he visited… and exactly what he’s “chosen” her for. At this point, Kara’s almost punch drunk… and agrees to dinner.
We shift scenes to a creepy club in Manhattan where Satanna and her army of animal hybrids are convening. She is trying to track down the Ultra-Humanite in order to do some brain-swapping… or maybe the Humanite already did… I can’t be sure. There’s also word of a “creepy bald man” delivering some new tech… we’ll meet him later.
Meanwhile inside the Head Ship, Vartox changes into his Valerian formal eveningwear… which amounts to a see-through robe and an eye-patch over his you-know-what.
Power Girl ain’t havin’ none’a that… especially if she’s expecting to eat. She sends him off to get into something less comfortable… though, by the looks of it, I’m not sure what could possibly be less comfortable than that. He returns in a sorta disco-looking tracksuit.
He excuses himself to finish cooking, and suggests Pee Gee go change into something a bit fancier herself. He directs her over to his on-board clothier, and after making him promise to turn off all of the cameras, Kara hops in. She returns in a beautiful gown… and Vartox is left speechless.
So distracted, in fact, that he doesn’t realize that their romantic dinner is burning!
Kara suggests they just order some take-out… and, next we know, the giant head-ship is hovering over a Brooklyn pizzeria.
While they dine, Vartox explains the reasons for his visit. He’s there, of course, so Power Girl can help repopulate the planet… only, it’s not exactly how we (or she) might imagine. He tells her about the contraception bomb… and also about his dead wife, who he claims was murdered (which… I suppose is kinda true).
Then… he gets down to it. Valerians don’t mate the same way humans do… they don’t perform the “act”… no physicality, and in his words, none of the “sticky stuff”. Kara’s confused… but also a bit curious… hell, so am I. He shows her to the “Fertility Room”.
Now, here’s where it gets weird… er. On Valeron, males and females both get pregnant (not Vartox though). Their replication is more of a spiritual thing… as though they give birth to themselves… regeneration of their souls and stuff. It’s really weird. It also involves a “Pregno-Ray”, the very mention of which causes Power Girl to busts a gut. Vartox chose Power Girl because her Kryptonian make-up will be able to stimulate the “fertilizer” without causing her any negative side effects.
Power Girl figures, what the hay… and offers her services. Moments later, she re-fertilizes Valeron.
After which, Vartox gives her what appears to be, a most sincere thank you. Kara’s all “okay, okay… you can go home now.”
We rejoin Pee Gee as she arrives back at her apartment. She’s greeted by her cat (and a dead roach) before passing out in bed.
We wrap up with Satanna… who is still seeking out the Ultra-Humanite. At the moment, however, she’s having a meeting with that “creepy bald man” we mentioned earlier… turns out, it’s Doctor Sivana!
There’s this weird trap I fall into when reviewing comics. I doubt it’s something completely unique to me… but, when I’m reading something… I almost can’t help myself but to look for the nebulous quality known as “heart“. Nebulous, because I can’t put into words exactly what I mean by it… it’s more of those “you know it when you see it” sort of things… and you know it’s missing when you don’t. This run on Power Girl absolutely has heart… the humor is human, and the characterization is genuine.
Here we get to brush aside all of Vartox’s bravado… and we’re left with that tragic character, not so different than the one we (or whoever among us was already alive and reading) met way back in 1974. This is a man who wants to do right by his people… not a silly gigolo, but an altruist. Risking harm and humiliation in order to re-fertilize his beloved Valeron.
What’s more, it was really nice to see Power Girl “come around” to him. Seeing him less as a sex-pest, and more as a man… a champion to his people… hell, the only hope of his people.
The creative team does a spectacular job here having Vartox straddle the line between obnoxious and unselfish. As we’ve learned during Vartox Week… this fella is far more complicated a soul than you’d expect this silly-looking Sean Connery rip-off to be. He’s the kinda guy… if he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. So, it’s nice… some thirty-six years after he first appeared, to finally see him “win” one. It was certainly a long time coming…
Going back to the concept of “heart”… the art brings that in spades. The looks Power Girl and Vartox share… there’s annoyance, sure… but there’s also… I dunno, it’s hard to explain. Not so much pity… as, an almost playful curiosity from Power Girl here. Like, she thinks Vartox is a creep… but also sees him as harmless… amusing, even. Amanda Conner truly brings both of these characters to life… and it’s a shame she (and the rest of the creative team) wouldn’t be around on this title much longer. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now… the art here is pure “candy”. Just love it.
Overall… yep, track this one down. Hell, track this entire run down, Vartox-less issues and all… it’s a great snapshot of what made the tail end of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe special. Hopefully you have an easier time than I did finding it “in the wild”. If the hunt ain’t your thing… this issue is ready and waiting for you via DC Digital.