Captain Comet received the kiss of Princess Glynix and the reluctant handshake of her sour aide Zogg as the hero departed Liquel II, the world of the blonde space princess. Vartox stopped him.
“Look, Captain, I wondered if you’d care to see Tynola, the world I protect?” asked the heroic Vartox. “Glynix can teleport us there as quickly as she brought you here from Earth. You drove off those battle-happy video pirates and defeated Draaga and the others, so how about a bit of rest and relaxation?”
“Well, sure,” Captain Comet said, smiling. “I can’t imagine that much has gone wrong while I’ve been gone. Unless Maxima has rampaged again or Dolphin has been kidnapped again. Or yet another Supergirl look-alike has appeared.”
“I would enjoy showing you the wonders of Tynola,” explained the balding Vartox. “The people are in need of heroic defense, and I am duty-bound to serve them as you and our friend Superman serve Earth. My hyper-powers allow me to make the world a better place, but I do miss friendship on this world, where I am always a man separated from real comrades or peers.”
Captain Comet had truly known what it was like to feel alone, since he had been the first super-hero of Earth, a few years before Superman’s debut as Superboy, and he had thus been without peers as well. “Tynola must be a special place to get a man to leave his friends on Earth to protect and serve an alien race,” he mused.
“I left a loved one named Lana Lang behind on Earth,” said Vartox. “I miss her beauty, her spirit, and her fiery red hair.”
“I left a fiery redhead behind, too,” said Comet, “not that she and I are involved. I’m actually rather attracted to another young woman — a blonde. I–”
Vartox and Captain Comet suddenly flickered into space just outside Tynola’s orbit. “What’s wrong?” asked Comet, gazing at an almost-blinding force-field. “That energy shield is blocking us from your world.”
“It will not do so for long,” muttered Vartox as a worried look crossed his tanned face.
They flew forward, only to be deflected from the field’s powerful energy. “Great guns!” cried Comet. “That thing stood up to both of us. Let’s examine it a bit more closely.”
“No time for that,” said Vartox. “My people below may be in peril. I won’t fail them!” He charged forward and generated a bolt of pure hyper-energy. The bluish radiance hit the field, and he poured on more power. “Got to break through,” he said through gritted teeth as beads of sweat ran down his face.
“Wait, I think you may be making a mistake!” warned the clever Captain Comet. “That field is not what it seems to be. I suspect it is not designed to keep us out, so much as it is to get you to unleash your hyper-energy! Don’t do it anymore!”
“Too late! Can’t stop!” cried Vartox. The power pulsed out of the heroic defender of Tynola as he grew weaker with every surge of power.
Captain Comet knew he had to get his friend away from the parasitic field before it drained his very life-force.
Maxima, the beautiful and deadly warrior princess of dead Almerac, stalked the halls of the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency as Colonel Rick Flag and his love, Karin Grace, held each other in his office.
“Oh, Rick,” she said tearfully. “That horrible star-band almost killed you, and it would have been all my fault! If you and Melisande had not saved me, what would have become of us?”
He embraced her and said, “It’s over. Don’t blame yourself. You could not control that weird space relic.”
The door exploded with a blast of mental energy as Maxima levitated into the room. “I demand we set out to rescue Captain Comet from the vile machinations of the little blonde space princess who took him away from me!” Maxima shouted. “She simmered and wept until his heroic heart was filled with pity for her. Now who knows what fate she had in mind for him?”
“Look, Max, he’s a big boy,” started Flag. “The best hero I’ve ever seen.”
He gasped as she suddenly lifted him off the floor with one hand. “I warned you not to presume to address the warrior princess of Almerac as Max,” she said. “I also tell you now that I shall not be dictated to by the likes of you or your concubine, or that girl in the shorts! I go now to free Comet!” At that, she released Flag and stormed off.
He was rubbing his pained neck as Karin rushed to his side. “Rick, that barbarian is out of control!” she cried.
Rick Flag grinned ruefully. “I’d say she has always been out of control. She waited ’til Comet left, then mentally implanted a fake Donna Reed persona on that other alien killer, Gilotina, who is in the kitchen baking bread as we speak! She ignored the chain of command — Dolphin is field commander in Adam’s absence — and she has thrown tantrums from the very start! All because she is lovesick over Comet, and he won’t give her the time of day!”
“I think he was sweet on Lesla,” Karin said.
“I think he likes Lisa Snart, but is torn because of her rather wild mannerisms,” said Flag. “Adam is like a guy from the 1950s; I mean, he really is from the 1950s! That blonde bombshell is a bit hot for the Eisenhower era. I should know.”
Maxima flew past the room where Starman sat with Dolphin planning their wedding. She ignored them as she soared by Debbie Domaine and Rachel Green working out in the gym. Moonbow didn’t even look up from her archery practice as Maxima quietly left. Only the pretty blonde from New Genesis called Melisande saw her departure, and she slipped on her silvery sandals and flew off to see what was going on.
“Maxima, where do you go in such a rush?” asked the girl with straight blonde locks and a short silver tunic.
“I go to find Captain Comet,” she said, enraged. “Do not try to stop me!”
“No, I would not,” said the smiling girl. “But I will come along for the trip.”
“I have decided to use my mental bond with Adam to facilitate locating him,” said Maxima. “My own energy detection devices from Almerac show he was teleported away from this spot. Now I hope to home in on his powerful mind and locate him.”
In orbit around Tynola, Captain Comet knew he had to act fast. He slammed his body between Vartox and the energy-draining field, and the hero of Tynola fell back free but weakened.
Captain Comet frowned as he probed the field. “I’m not giving off any energy, so it is dormant, but I sense a powerful mind with an ancient evil behind this creation. Someone wants your world to die. We have to stop him. I’ll stand by you.”
Vartox groaned. “I thank you. I know of no one other than Superman whom I would rather be allied with. But why does this entity want to harm the Tynolans?”
“I think it is partly for power,” said Comet, “and, frankly, partly for sheer evil malice!”
“How can we stop it if we can’t enter the world’s atmosphere?” Vartox said, rage and worry churning within his noble heart.
“I have a plan,” said Adam Blake. “I’m going to bring it to us.”
Captain Comet flew closer, sending waves of mental power outward. He concentrated and tried to compel this evil being to come to them. His face grew pale, and he used his awesome power in a way almost foreign to his nature. He never liked intruding his mental powers upon others; that way was the road to abuse of power. This time he felt justified as he sought one goal alone — to draw out the oppressor who threatened to destroy the world below them.
Vartox tried to add his own mental energies to the effort, and slowly the field dimmed as a humanoid figure flew out.
“Did it,” sighed Comet as he dropped his probe.
“Ah, dear boy, but do you fellows realize just what you have done?” said the pink-skinned, black-caped figure who soared up from the surface of the planet. “You’ve lured me out. Indeed, I marvel that a mind could be as advanced as yours has proven to be and yet also be so pure, so good, so heroic — in short, so utterly sickening — and opposed to all the dark forces I relish so much.”
“I know of you!” said Comet, his photographic memory instantly identifying this ancient evil. “Superman told me about you.”
“Who is he?” asked Vartox as he prepared for a fight to save his adopted world.
“His name is Starbreaker, the cosmic vampire,” said Captain Comet grimly. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Coming of Starbreaker,” Justice League of America #96 (February, 1972), “The Day the Earths Screams,” Justice League of America #97 (March, 1972), and “No More Tomorrows,” Justice League of America #98 (May, 1972).]
At that moment, Maxima and Melisande appeared, and with her usual lack of forethought, Maxima immediately attacked the gloating Starbreaker. “You dare threaten the chosen consort of Lady Maxima?” she raged as she struck the pink-skinned monster with all her power.
“Maxima, get back — he absorbs energy!” warned Captain Comet just before Starbreaker drained the warrior princess of all kinetic energy, and she hovered limply in zero gravity before him. The cosmic vampire grabbed her by the hair and tossed her through his energy field to hurtle down to Tynola far below. Vartox took that moment to follow her, passing through the field seconds before it closed anew.
“Melisande, this fiend has your powers!” were the thoughts Captain Comet projected to the young girl in the short silvery tunic.
She frowned. “I sense that. He has has the capacity to release those absorbed energies as an attack. I cannot do that.”
“Follow my lead!” said Comet.
Starbreaker grinned. “My, what interesting women you know, old boy!”
Captain Comet projected a mental shield around Starbreaker that only let the cosmic vampire perceive what Comet allowed him to see. “You hope to beat me with raw brute force? How quaint!” laughed Starbreaker, who saw only Captain Comet charging him with his fists raised as if to fight.
Meanwhile, Melisande slipped up to him, her very proximity filtered out of Starbreaker’s range of sensory impulses by Comet’s precise attack. Her long blonde hair and flawless face were unseen as she grasped the alien, absorbing all the stolen hyper-energy he had consumed. He did feel the power leave him but was at a loss to understand who or what was draining him. All he saw was Captain Comet swing at him. He tried to block the blow, but to his astonishment, he had no power left. Comet knocked him cold, just as a pained Melisande released all the power back into the cosmic vampire.
“I could only cut him off from the energies he was draining from Tynola for that brief time!” she cried. “His power is incredible!”
Captain Comet kissed her. “You did great. All it took was the chance for you to cut off his source just long enough for me to get at him!”
On the surface of Tynola, Vartox bent over the fallen Maxima, who rose fitfully, vowing revenge upon Starbreaker. The champion of Tynola certainly admired her strength, spirit, and looks, and he warned her not to rush into combat so soon after her horrid fall through the atmosphere.
“Bah! I am born and bred for battle!” she said with a haughty toss of her red hair. “I shall never let mere fleshly concerns keep me from the fray.”
Reminds me of Lana, he thought, smiling.
A Tynolan woman suddenly rushed up to him. “Vartox — champion! You have saved us again! I see the monster is beaten!”
Indeed, Starbreaker’s still form was carried to the ground by Captain Comet and Melisande, since the energy-field had vanished along with its creator’s awareness.
“Well done!” said a thrilled Vartox. “Captain Comet, you saved my world.”
Comet smiled. “Melisande did the work!” The pretty blonde blushed with pleasure.
Maxima cast a bitter look at the shapely girl and said, “I was ready to come to your aid as well.”
As she spoke, Vartox was approached by still more Tynolans. All touched him, thanking him for his valor as he greeted them warmly.
Maxima, noticing the awe in which he was held by the Tynolans, stepped up to the broad-shouldered hero and said, “Vartox, you are revered by these people because of your power and warrior prowess, yet you treat them as if you served them and not the other way around! Why?”
Vartox rubbed his balding head and said, “I never thought of it in any other way. I have my powers for a reason, so naturally I am duty-bound by honor and compassion to use my abilities to safeguard those who lack such strength. If I ruled these people simply because I have the power to do so, I would be little more than a tyrant, betraying basic human rights.”
Maxima snorted with disdain. “Surely, I agree that our power should require us to protect others, but I also feel we should be honored, no — worshipped for our might!”
Vartox stepped up to the tall woman and, to her utter surprise, kissed her passionately. Stepping back, he said, “I just took what I wanted by my power. Did that make it my right to do so regardless of your feelings? See, my lady, power does not justify imposing our whims upon others. I am sorry I did so, but I hope I made my point.”
Maxima frowned, blinking in shock as strange feelings rushed through her. “I… see. Perhaps… you could teach me more. Perhaps… I could even aid you as another champion of Tynola. Perhaps… I wished for your kiss.”
Vartox smiled as well. “I would be honored. I have longed for company… friendship… romance.”
Maxima turned to Captain Comet and Melisande. “I shall remain here with Vartox,” she said brusquely. “I bid you farewell.”
Captain Comet grinned. “Good luck to you both. If you should ever need my help, just call me.”
“I doubt that will ever be necessary,” replied Maxima coldly.
Captain Comet said, “I was talking to Vartox.”
Melisande and Vartox laughed merrily, while Maxima pursed her lips and gave a small smile in return.
“Those energy dampeners I invented should hold Starbreaker until you can put him on trial,” said Captain Comet.
Comet and Melisande flew off into the upper atmosphere of Tynola, where they would send their signal to Princess Glynix to be sent to Earth again.
“Good man, that Vartox,” said Adam Blake as they flew.
“So are you,” added Melisande, “so are you.”