Five months after her return to the land of the living, Karen Sorrell looked over her new apartment off one of the busiest streets of downtown San Francisco. Since her little outburst of heat-vision destroyed her television, she had suppressed her powers completely over those two months and had lived a normal life, as she had sworn to herself that she would do.
Lady Death was an all-but-distant memory for most people. The Justice League of America was stationed safely in their satellite and was back to full membership, Metropolis was back to normal — as much as Metropolis is normal — and Karen hadn’t heard from Superman since the fiasco with the World’s Finest team. It had taken nearly every bit of willpower she had not to fly out and pound the living daylights out of her supposed cousin when she saw him deface the Statue of Liberty, but that part of her life was behind her, or so she thought. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice League of America: World’s Fiercest.]
Karen had settled into her job as an anonymous secretary at the local office of the FBI quietly and without a hitch. She had made a few friends at the office but mostly kept to herself, trying to stay as buried as possible. But that was before he came bursting into her life like a lightning bolt, something that Orion was always good at.
She had been sitting at home watching her TV and trying not to destroy this one when yet another story of the new Supergirl, Lydia-7, came on the news.
“What is it with these people? Lydia lives in New York, all the way across a continent!” Karen complained as she turned the power off.
With a brilliant flash of light that would have blinded most people, her wall caved in and gave way to the elder prince of Apokolips known as Orion, riding astride his Astro-Harness.
“I don’t know what they do where you come from, but on Earth we use a thing called a door,” Karen said.
“We have no time for introductions, Kara Zor-El of Apokolips — only time for your return.”
“Brilliant conversationalist, too,” said Karen. “I’m out of the super-hero business. You know? Retired, kaput, finito, it’s over? I’m living a normal life.”
“There is never a normal life for a child of Darkseid while he yet lives,” Orion said.
Karen’s jaw dropped, and her eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head. “No way. I don’t know who I am, but I know I have nothing to do with that stone-faced monster.”
She stood dumbfounded for a minute, then finally regained her composure. “Whatever, or whomever I may be, I was used by Darkseid once, but not again. You go run back to that walking gargoyle and deliver the message.”
“His plans concern you even more this time. He has shifted his main attack from Earth to a place called Rokyn,” Orion said. “Highfather fears he may have discovered Darkseid’s plans too late.”
“Rokyn, also known as New Krypton, is the place that Kandor was transplanted to,” Karen said. (*) “Darkseid may bite off more than he can chew if he starts a war with seven million Kryptonians.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Let My People Grow,” Superman #338 (August, 1979).]
“Rokyn has a red sun,” said Orion. “Darkseid plans to use it in some way against Earth.”
“With Kal, Lydia, and Valor down for the moment, the only thing that would stand in his way would be J’onn J’onzz and the Green Lantern Corps,” replied Karen.
“There are others, but they would not stand long if the Green Lanterns or the Martian Manhunter fell,” said Orion.
“You’ve got a point, but why come to me with this?” Karen asked.
“Because you are Kryptonian, or at least part of you is, and it is your fight,” replied Orion. “The Justice League have their hands full at the present, and there is no one left.”
“And because you can’t get involved directly,” said Karen, sighing. “Here we go again, playing the pawn in someone else’s games.” Karen walked toward the bedroom of her apartment and said, “Find Batman; tell him to meet me. He’ll know where.”
“How do I find Batman?”
“You’re as subtle as a hydrogen bomb. Fly around Gotham a few times, and he’ll find you,” Karen said.
“We do not have time for your games, Kara Zor-El.”
“This is no game. I need to arrange for transportation to Rokyn right now, and Superman and Batman are the only two I know of who can do that,” Karen said.
“What do you plan to do while I run around this planet looking for a man who dresses up as a bat?”
“Preparing for the trip. And, if I were you, I would check the attitude before Batman does it for you,” Karen said with a slight smile.
“Not likely,” Orion huffed as he flew out through the hole he had made in the wall.
Karen walked into her bedroom and pushed a hidden panel aside. She had hoped never to see it again, but there hung the armor of Lady Death.
“With a few alterations, it just might work,” Karen said to herself.
The midnight skies over Gotham city were usually bleak and without light, but not this night. Orion’s Astro-Harness practically lit up the sky as he flew around the skyscrapers. He heard a faint rustle below and felt the sting of a batarang as it grazed his head.
“Some reason you’re shedding light on my city, or are you just looking for a good time?” Batman asked from below.
Orion almost cracked a smile as he settled to the roof beside the Dark Knight. Even the glare of Orion’s Astro-Harness could shine little light upon the darkly cowled figure of Batman.
“Kara Zor-El of Apokolips sent me to find you — in her words, to arrange for transportation to a place called Rokyn,” explained Orion. “She said you would know where to meet her.”
“I was wondering what Darkseid called her,” Batman said as he pulled a small handheld launcher out of his utility belt.
He fired a bat-rope at a nearby building a swing away. Orion quickly followed him. Minutes later, Batman came to a stop in an alleyway just blocks from the infamous Crime Alley.
“What is so important about this place?” Orion asked as he landed.
“This is the last place that I had a conversation with Supergirl during the Phantom Zone crisis. (*) I assume that this is the place that Karen meant.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Earth Under Siege,” The Phantom Zone #2 (February, 1982).]
“You never assume,” Orion said, whose Mother Box had provided him with more information about the Darknight Detective in the short amount of time since he had left San Francisco than most people on Earth could ever know.
“He heard me land before you did, and with those infrared lenses in his cowl, he can probably see me better than you can,” Karen Sorrell’s voice said from the shadows.
Batman cracked a slight smile and nodded. Both Orion’s and Batman’s jaws dropped as she stepped out of the shadows.
“You both know me as Karen Sorrell–”
The blonde bombshell now wore blue boots that came up to the middle of her thighs, blue gloves, a blue cape, a blue mask that covered her eyes, a white bodysuit, and a red belt that was fastened with a yellow buckle. And the clasp that held her cape on was the familiar diamond-shaped crest of Superman, but instead of the S in the red clasp, there was a bright blue P.
“–but you can call me Powergirl.”
Batman and Orion stood almost dumbfounded, staring at the new Powergirl of Earth-One.
“Before we start arguing about the name or the costume, we need transportation to Rokyn,” said the new Powergirl.
“I’m not a Greyhound shuttle bus,” Batman said.
“No, but with the exceptions of the Hawks, Captain Comet, and Kal, you own the only privately owned vehicle capable of space flight that I am aware of,” Karen explained. “Once I hit a solar system with a red sun, I won’t be able to function as Powergirl.”
“I’m sure that Superman can come up with something better than I can,” Batman said.
“The Supermobile, unfortunately, only seats one, and Bright Boy over here wants to tag along. Katar and Kara never got along too well, and I agree with her reasoning.”
“Orion told me that you knew the JLA was busy, so how did you know that I would be in Gotham?” Batman asked.
“Simple logic, Mr. Holmes, and a good newspaper,” Powergirl said as she turned around, reached behind a Dumpster that she had landed behind, and picked up the Joker by his collar.
“The revolving door at Arkham keeps you busy tracking him down,” Powergirl said as she dropped the Joker, who was bound hand and foot, in front of Batman. A gag had been put over his mouth to keep him from talking, though not for lack of trying, and industrial-grade earmuffs had been taped over his ears for good measure. It was evident that Powergirl had captured him a few minutes earlier and had placed him there as a big reveal in an effort to impress Batman.
“I’ll see about that transport to Rokyn,” Batman said nonchalantly as he pulled out another launcher.
Powergirl smiled as the Batman swung up into the night sky, the Joker securely in his arms.
“Not too many people have ever done that,” Orion said.
“Capture the Joker when Batman is looking for him?” Powergirl said. “It’s not too hard when you can look through buildings.”
“Not that,” said Orion. “It’s nearly impossible to change Batman’s mind on anything.”
Hours after seeing the Joker safely locked away in Arkham Asylum, Batman and Powergirl sat in the cockpit of a black spacecraft painted with the familiar bat emblem on each wing. The Caped Crusader kept quiet about how he had built or obtained such a highly advanced spacecraft in the first place, but it was evidently a closely kept secret known only to a very small circle of trusted allies.
“I haven’t been to Kandor in a while, but if I remember right, the atmospheric pressure will tear this rocket apart,” Batman said as they left the solar system of Earth. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: The last time was in “How Do You Kill a Superman?” World’s Finest Comics #240 (September, 1976).]
“That thought occurred to me, too,” Powergirl said. “As a precaution, you keep a few life-pods in the ship. I know you always like to be prepared for anything. I just rigged a couple of them to withstand the pressures of the Kryptonian atmosphere — I hope.”
“‘I hope’? That doesn’t sound very good,” Orion said.
“What do you care? You’re immortal, anyway,” Powergirl said with a slight smile.
“That depends on whether or not that thing is crushed like an eggshell,” Orion replied.
“So you’ve reworked a couple of life-pods, then what?” Batman asked.
“Simple — jettison them before you get too close to Rokyn to be caught in its gravitational pull,” said Powergirl. “The onboard computers will do the rest.”
“You hope,” Batman said.
“If it doesn’t, we’ll end up in that red sun,” replied Powergirl.
Several hours later, two six-foot-long tubes were fired out of Batman’s ship toward a glowing red star. Powergirl smiled as she watched the rocket turn back toward Earth.
“What if your programming doesn’t work, computer genius?” Orion asked over the communications system between the two pods.
“Well, then these things will be our coffins. Not that it would disappoint old Stone-Face too much,” Powergirl answered.
“Which one — Darkseid or Batman?” Orion asked.
As the life-pods containing Powergirl and Orion sped in their trajectory toward Rokyn, the blonde Kryptonian worked feverishly at the computer in her pod.
“Something bothering you, Kara Zor-El?” Orion asked over the communicator.
“If our trajectory is all wrong, we’re going to miss Rokyn altogether,” Powergirl said.
“And I called you a computer genius,” Orion commented.
“Batman is better at this than I am. I couldn’t override some of his programs. It’s taking us to the closest planet capable of supporting Earth-bound life, a planet two solar systems away,” Powergirl said.
“We’ll run out of oxygen long before we reach it.”
“I managed to override the long-term life support systems, which means our corpses will reach the planet safely,” Powergirl said.
“Then Darkseid has already won.”
Suddenly, both life-pods lurched out of their altered trajectories and began a downward turn toward Rokyn. Powergirl smiled as she saw a familiar green glow from the small window in her life pod.
“Maybe not, Orion, it appears that this area of space has a Green Lantern,” Powergirl said. “I hope it’s one I know.”
Moments later, Powergirl slid open the hatch on her life pod. She almost burst into laughter as a well-placed kick from Orion sent the hatch of his life-pod into orbit.
“Do they not have doorknobs on Apokolips?” Powergirl asked.
The Green Lantern who had saved them didn’t wear the customary union suit of a Green Lantern, nor did she wear the mask that Hal Jordan had adopted to protect his identity. With her knowledge of the citizens of Kandor, Powergirl immediately recognized Todra Than-Ol — daughter of the revolutionary scientist Than-Ol who had once stirred the Kandorians against Superman — but said nothing to that effect. (*) Second on the scene was Valor, who could easily have passed for a double of Powergirl, with the exception of their clothes. (*) Kandor’s longtime crime-fighters Nightwing and Flamebird also came out to investigate this new threat to their city.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superman in Kandor,” Superman #158 (January, 1963) and Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: Strange Visitors.]
“If one of the New Gods makes a trip to Rokyn, it can’t be good,” Valor said.
Powergirl smiled. She had forgotten that Valor also had Kara Zor-El’s memories. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: In Search Of, Prologue: The Life of Lesla-Lar.]
“I don’t believe I know them,” the Green Lantern said.
“Orion I know,” replied Valor. “He’s the son of Darkseid, but the lady I do not.”
“We’ve never met, but for right now the name Powergirl will do,” said the blue-masked woman. “You have a bigger problem than my attempt at overriding Batman’s computer control systems.”
A holographic image of Batman came from the life-pod that Powergirl had been in. “If I know Nightwing, he won’t take either Orion’s or Powergirl’s word for real, so I programmed this holographic image to be played if my name is mentioned,” Batman’s voice said. “They are who they say they are, and the threat to your city is real and even greater than Brainiac’s ever was.”
The hologram vanished, and Powergirl smiled. “I would hate to see him on the other side of a chess board. He’s always one step ahead,” she commented.
“That’s just what I was thinking,” Valor said.