Valeron was a relatively advanced world situated in the Sombrero Hat Galaxy,
with technology that one might anticipate on Earth in another few centuries.
But it was not Earth, despite the presence of a dominant humanoid race. A
glance into the sky revealed two orbs, a pair of suns and a pair of lunar
satellites, possibly known as the Dadra Moons. The atmosphere was composed
of 60 % oxygen (versus 20 % on Earth). Open flames were discouraged on Valeron.
Valeron also had a planetary champion in the form of Vartox, a hirsute
man who wore a brown vest, black and yellow bikini briefs and long boots ...
and nothing else. Although his origins are unknown, Vartox seems to gained
his enhanced abilities as a young adult.
His celebrity soon attracted the attention of a beautiful blonde named Syreena
and the young Vartox was thrown for a loop. She was like no other woman I
had ever encountered, Vartox recalled. For the first time in my life, I knew
what it was to love with a passion ... and be passionately loved back in return.
As our romance flourished, she gave me a dazzling pendant to wear close to
my heart — as she put it, a glowing testament to our everlasting love.
The same time frame saw Valeron wracked by wanton, cold-blooded attacks directed
against public utilities and services owned and operated by the planetary
government. Many lives were lost — snuffed out by an anonymous extortionist
cold-blooded enough to commit multiple murder to insure his payment demands
were met. Inevitably, Vartox captured the super-powered terrorist and was
horrified to learn that it was Syreena, whod used the pendant to siphon surpluses
of hyper-energy from (his) body to hers.
Syreena insisted that, whatever her motives had originally been, shed truly
fallen in love with Vartox and begged him to release her. Crushing the pendant,
he delivered her to Valerons Punishment Bureau and she was given the maximum
sentence. Typically, a lawbreaker was sentenced, accelerated in age by the
worlds futuristic technology and released instantly. Syreena would be given
a life sentence, however, and would be forced to live the rest of her days
in confinement (SUPERMAN #374).
In the years to come, Vartox continued to be haunted by the betrayal of the
great love of his life and threw himself into the role of hero, not just on
Valeron but throughout his galaxy. Now approaching middle-age and with sideburns
and a receding hairline, Vartox finally found a new love, a reddish-blonde
named Elyra. Within weeks of his marriage, the hero of Valeron would find
his new bride dead in their bedchamber. The death of their planetary champions
lover sent all of Valeron into a state of mourning and its medical authorities
vowed to determine the cause of death.
Vartox recalled that for years she suffered from mysterious pains and ailmentsand
the autopsiscan confirmed that there was a connection. The hero was stunned
to learn that Elyra had been biologically linked to a woman from Earth. When
her bionic twin died, Elyra had perished, as well. Using a time-scanscope
of his own invention, Vartox discovered that his wifes twin had been ruthlessly
gunned down by an armed robber on Earth named Frank Sykes. Even more ghastly
was that, thanks to a legal loophole, Sykes would not even be punished for
Vartox vowed to bring Sykes to Valeron for punishment but concluded that
a direct approach was not an option. By hyper-powers, (he) mentally projected
what would most likely happen if (he) carried out such a battle-plan — a
clash between Superman and (himself) ... ending in the death of the woman
he loves. Instead, Vartox met Sykes in the guise of a fellow criminal, manipulated
him into stealing a jewel and convinced him to return to Valeron for more
riches. Despite the hero of Valerons best precautions, Superman spotted Sykes
snatching the gem and attempted to intervene. Still hoping to avoid a potentially
distrastrous confrontation with the Man of Steel, Vartox funnelled some of
his power into Sykes, who sent Superman spinning away like a human corkscrew.
Superman raced after the duo, now travelling 7 & 1/2 light years back
to Valeron via a teleport-beam, and literally outraced the ray to destroy
a fragment of a white dwarf star in its path. On his home planet, Vartox placed
the killer under arrest and explained that not a law was broken, Sykes. I
carefully worked out my plan so youd come of your own free will. And thanks
to your greed, you did. He confirmed to Superman that I planted the gem (in
the jewelry store) myself. I could not let Sykes steal one of the store-jewels
— that would be breaking a law.
Though the Man of Steel was sympathetic, he was concerned about the confinement
of an Earthman on another world for the sixty years that Valerons law dictated.
The hyper-man was accomodating, noting that he has already served his time.
As you can see, Sykes age has been accelerated by 60 years. Now that our laws
have dealt with him, I can accept my wifes death in peace. Heading home with
the 90-year-old Sykes, Superman noted that the scales of justice have balanced
out. Frank Sykes got away with murder on one world ... only to pay the penalty
for it on another (1974s SUPERMAN #281, by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Bob Oksner).
Vartox had his origins in a 1974 film called Zardoz, a critically-blasted
science fiction adventure that featured Sean Connery as the lead character
(named Zed)in a costume disturbingly close to the one worn by Vartox. Connery
had made a few other appearances in DC comics of the past (in the James Bond/Dr.No.
issue of SHOWCASE #43 in 1963 and in a Gil Kane-designed character in the
futuristic Jan Vern strip from 1965s MYSTERY IN SPACE #100 and 102) but it
would be Cary Bates nod to one of the actors most unusual film roles that
was destined to leave him immortalized in the Superman mythology.
Vartox wasnt getting any younger and, after enduring a particularly rough
hit by a criminals z-charge gun, the hero had to acknowledge that the specter
of age is finally taking its toll on my hyper-powers. For the sake of his
world, he felt compelled to find a solution. Via his transcope, he sought
ideas from watching Superman on Earth and believed he had found one in the
form of Karb-Brak, an alien being whod fled to Earth after developing an allergy
to the super-powers that all of his own planets people possessed. Superman
had found a partial cure for Karb-Brak that enabled him to live on Earth in
the guise of a human (as documented in 1976s ACTION COMICS #460-463).
Vartox realized that the energy toxins which caused Karb-Braks dread super-hero
allergy contained the vital elements (that he) needed to revitalize himself.
The hyper-man travelled to Earth, secretly reactivated his allergy and, while
Karb-Brak fought Superman in his fever-rage, Vartoxabsorb(ed) those vital
elements. Intoxicated by the energies in his system and suffering enormous
guilt for endangering Karb-Braks life, Vartox convinced himself that it was
Superman who had been losing his powers, not himself.
In a one-on-one battle, the Man of Steel soon realized he was no match for
the addled hyper-man. His only option was a psychological tactic. Disguised
as Elyra, Lois Lane called on Superman to abandon the fight and return home
to her. Tears streaming down his cheeks, Vartox insisted that she is NOT your
wife — she is MINE!The plan had worked and a contrite Vartox told Superman
to consider yourself fortunate, old friend, to know the love of Lois Lane.
NEVER take her for granted. In the company of Karb-Brak, whom hed inadvertantly
cured as he recharged his powers, Vartox headed homeward (1977s ACTION COMICS
#475-476, by Bates, Kurt Schaffenberger and Frank Chiaramonte & Vince
For all the tragedy that his life had seen to date, Vartox could scarcely
have imagined what lie ahead. Returning to Valeron from a routine patrol of
the galaxy, he was soaking in the sights and sounds of his beloved world when
his hyper-senses detect(ed) a violent vibratory flux spreading rapidly across
the planet. In a matter of moments, the world had detonated like a bomb!
With nowhere else to turn, the inconsolable hyper-man travelled to Earth,
where he choked out the details of the tragedy to Superman. Though the Man
of Steel still endures the scars of immeasurable grief from losing his own
home world when he was a mere infant, he cannot begin to comprehend the weight
of the pain and agony that must now weigh upon his comrades mighty shoulders.
Deep in the grasp of survivors guilt, Vartox found himself suffering visions
of his people blaming him for their deaths.
Regaining his composure, the hero displayed several radioactive fragments
of Valeron and asked Superman if he might use the equipment of his Fortress
of Solitude to analyze the rocks for clues to his worlds destruction. The
Man of Steel was agreeable to the proposal but insisted that his friend set
up roots in Metropolis and mingle with other human beings rather than pull
away from society in his grief.
WGBS sportscaster and eternal jerk Steve Lombard got a first-hand taste of
the legendary Vartox style when Galaxy Broadcasting security officer Vernon
OValeron responded to one of his perioidic pranks on Clark Kent by shoving
his face in the garbage disposal. Clark Kents co-anchor (and childhood girl
friend) Lana Lang took an immediate liking to the masculine security officer
and Vartox responded in kind. Hed originally taken the guise of OValeron only
to satisfy Superman but, thanks to Lana, it was rapidly growing more and more
Vartoxs love-life abruptly took a backseat when his investigation of the
radioactive rocks yielded a heart-sickening conclusion. Hed unwittingly picked
up an undetectable space-element while hed been on galactic patrol, an element
with a violent reaction to oxygen. Thanks to Valerons oxygen-rich atmosphere,
the world exploded within minutes of Vartoxs return. Earth now seemed destined
for the same end, a fate that many on Earth suddenly seemed to share. The
hyper-man belatedly realized that, given the psychic base of his powers, he
was subconsciously broadcasting my dread of Earths impending doom at a telepathic
level so intense, Earth people are being overwhelmed by my fears.
From within the Fortress, Superman insisted that his friends fears were unfounded,
noting that his microscopic assessment of the oxygen atoms around him displayed
no disintegration. Vartox would not be deterred, even reenacting Jor-Els futile
warnings to Kryptons Science Council about his own worlds impending doom.
Momentarily shaken, the Man of Steel burst out of the Fortress and was stunned
to realize that he could now see the atoms of oxygen being destroyed.
Thinking quickly, Superman realized that the radioactive fragments of Valeron
had somehow negated the oxygen effect within the Fortress. At super-speed,
the heroes gathered every chunk of Valeron that they could locate, proceeding
to pulverize the world-saving fragments into streams of microscopic particles
to be spread throughout the atmosphere until the crisis passes — and Earths
oxygen is stable again.
That night, Vartox kissed Lana Lang goodbye. Shed been stunned by the fact
that shed fallen for another super-hero, sighing, You know, its funny — deep
down, I guess I always suspected you were too good to be true, Mr. Vernon
Deep down, one also suspects that Vartox may have wanted him to deny himself
happiness in penance for his unwitting destruction of Valeron. Officially,
though, he felt that his powers would be wasted on a world like Earth that
was full of super-heroes and vowed to find another planet, a struggling civilization
in desperate need of a champion. Such is my destiny, Lana — but it cannot
diminish the love I will always feel for you. Perhaps, if all goes well ...
and if you are willing to wait ... I could even come back some day.
Choking back tears, Lana sniffled, that might just be the best offer Ive
had in a lifetime (1979s ACTION #498-499, by Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte &
A year and a half later, Vartox returned to Lana just long enough to let
her know that hed finally found the world hed been seeking — a planet of
orange-skinned humanoid beings known as Tynola. Indeed, Tynola seemed to be
struck by catastrophes on such a regular basis that hed begun to wonder how
its people had ever survived without him. The answer, which hed concealed
from Lana, was a disturbing one. The hyper-man chanced upon a secret Tynolan
ritual of chants and invocations that they were using to create each and every
menace (hed) saved them from since (he) arrived. Under the pretense of saying
goodbye to his friends, Vartox had made a quick journey to Earth and, fearing
that the aliens were monitoring him, covertly asked Superman to follow him
The Tynolans watched with interest as their newfound champion fought and
defeated a genuine menace called Superman. Ostensibly a prisoner of the Tynolans,
the Man of Steel was now free to eavesdrop with his super-vision and hearing.
He quickly learned that a godlike entity known as Moxumbra was looming just
beyond the planet. The gaseous being was composed of green and yellow clouds
prone to almost non-stop electrical discharges and resembled nothing so much
as a huge, gaping serpentine mouth.
In exchange for periodic sacrifices of super-beings, Moxumbra, from the aliens
viewpoint at least, bestowed its divine radiation on them and gave them the
Power of the Chant. The Tynolans had been secretly bathing Vartox in mosmic
additives to make him palatable to their god. Superman, they were disappointed
to learn, had powers of an entirely different nature from Vartoxs hyper-powers
and was judged incompatible for Moxumbra.
The Man of Steel would, however, make good bait to lure Vartox into the jaws
of the god and, claiming to be executing the notorious villain, they fired
Supermans body into space on a direct course with Moxumbra. As anticipated,
Vartox attempted to rescue Superman and was caught fast by the creature before
the Man of Steel could warn him otherwise. Vartox began to dissolve and, realizing
that he couldnt be pulled free, Superman begged him to use his hyper-energy
to transfer the mosmic energy to his body. Moxumbra discovered that the new
sacrifice was inedible and bolted from the planetary system with the most
colossal stomach-ache in the universe.
Superman was understandly thunderstruck when he learned that Vartox intended
to remain on Tynola. The hyper-man was adamant, though, observing that with
Moxumbra gone, the Tynolans have LOST the chanting powers which warped their
moral judgment. Ironically, NOW they truly DO need a super-champion to guide
them, to help them back on the path of self-reliance(1980s SUPERMAN #356-357,
by Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte).
The post-Moxumbra era on Tynola was considerably less perilous, though, and
Vartox now felt comfortable in taking extended vacations to Earth to visit
Lana. Although she was frustrated by the pattern that was emerging (A few
precious days of bliss, and then well say our goodbyes), Lana was genuinely
touched by his insistence that she not abandon her life and friends on his
behalf. In spite of all your awesome powers, she told him, Youve always treated
me as nothing less than an equal. You dont know what a RARE quality that is
in the men I meet. The ones who arent trying to dominate me feel threatened
by my successful career as a TV journalist.
Admittedly, as Vartox confided in his Kryptonian friend, it would have been
difficult for Lana to join him on Tynola, anyway. Its atmosphere would soon
prove fatal to her or anyone else with an Earth-based physiology. That suddenly
became a moot point when a ghostly being bestowed a protective aura on Lana
and erased her memory of the encounter. Vartox and Superman were astonished
when they found her apartment filled with a poisonous gas, something that
the hyper-man recognized instantly as the Tynolan atmosphere. Having discovered
that the blue glow around her body had somehow immunized her, Lana realized
that there were no longer any barriers to prevent her from joining the man
she loved on his adoptive world.
Superman and Jimmy Olsen were more troubled by the entire situation. Doesnt
that weird protective aura and the alien atmosphere test seem more than a
little suspicious to you? Jimmy wondered aloud. Vartox had rationalized it
away, noting that Ive long been aware of an ethereal hyper-body which dwells
within my physical essence. On occasion, this phantom self has been dispatched
into action without my knowledge — directed by my own own subconscious wishes.
It was, he felt, the only theory conceivable.
In fact, a far more sinister entity was behind the blue aura, a person who
was secretly whipping Vartox into jealous attacks on Superman as his wedding
day approached. In a murderous rage, the hyper-man burst into Lanas going-away
party — determined to kill the man he was convinced was trying to steal his
fiancee. Firing a lethal hyper-charge at the Man of Steels chest, Vartox watched
helplessly as it ricocheted toward Lana and, reacting with the aura, transformed
her into a stone statue.
In a state of shock, Vartox surrendered to authorities. Head in hand, he
told Superman from his cell that I have ceased functioning as a rational super-being.
Let us be candid, Superman — there were warning signs of mental instability.
Citing the mental blackouts in which he supposedly endowed Lana with her aura
and went into his rages, Vartox insisted that what happened today is no ones
fault but my own — and whatever penalty your Earth-justice decrees for me
will not be severe enough.
Privately, Superman felt otherwise. Vartox is somewhat older than I am ...
and his hyper-powers and vast experience have made him a force for good in
the universe ever since I was a super-tot. I dont buy a champion of his caliber
suddenly losing his mind over the woman he loves — not unless an outside
force was at work. Microscopically examining photographs that Jimmy Olsen
had taken at the reception, the Man of Steel spotted a secondary beam directed
at Lana at the moment of her transformation.
Elsewhere, Vartox was being haunted by a ghostly image that he finally identified
as Syreena when he noticed that the remains of her crushed pendant (which
he still carried after all those years) had begun to glow. Using those fragments,
he escaped from prison and trailed Syreena back to her base. Shed anticipated
his arrival and activated a long-dormant failsafe that unleashed poison in
his lungs. The deathtrap was dealt with immediately by Superman, who told
his friend that hed uncovered evidence implicating Syreena in Lanas death.
Grasping at any possibility, Vartox asked his former lover if she could resuscitate
Lana. Y-yes, she responded. There IS one way. I can SAVE her for you, Var
... so you and she can have the happiness you and I were never meant to share.
Working over Lanas stone form, she realized, Perhaps I DO still LOVE you,
Var ... far more than I ever knew ... until NOW! Just PROMISE me you will
never FORGET me.
Vartox began to understand what she was getting at when Lana returned to
life. The restoration had only been possible by Syreena transferring the petrification
field from Lanas atoms to her own. The spell had also erased Lanas aura, a
small price to pay for her restoration. The hyper-man spent another several
days on Earth before returning to Tynola with Syreenas immobile form. Only
a cruel twist of fate could make my wish come true this way, he cursed as
he left the planets atmosphere. I was hoping to go back to Tynola holding
in my arms — the woman I loved (1982s SUPERMAN #373-375, by Bates, Swan and
Dave Hunt & Dan Adkins).
Superman was understandly concerned when Vartox returned to Earth a year
later, once again suffering blackouts and partial amnesia. He couldnt remember
Tynolas location — or even its name — and headed to the only location in
his mind: Earth. With a bit of hesitation, the Man of Steel gave his friend
another bit of potentially bad news. As Clark Kent, hed begun dating Lana
It seems, Superman old friend, he grinned, that Ive checked out of my life
for longer than might have been prudent.
Dont talk like that, Vartox ... and especially dont give that to ME. I KNOW
what kind of problems you can have when you make a career in OUR line of work.
No, no, my friend. I am all right, just a little disappointed ... in MYSELF
for letting the best things in my life sift through my fingers. I should have
married Lana when I had the chance. Besides that ... your alter-ego Clark
Kent is a good man in his own right.
Im glad youre a friend, Vartox — and Im glad youre taking this news well.
You have no IDEA how much Ive agonized over this.
You knew the woman long before I did, Superman, and ... and ... and now —
I will KILL you!
The Man of Steel hadnt seen the hyper-powered slap coming and was helpless
as Vartox incinerated him with a blast of hyper-energy. Blinking, Vartox realized
that the entire conflict had been in his mind. As Superman left him alone
in the Fortress, the hyper-man silently wondered what he had done to deserve
such never-ending torment.
Both he and the Man of Steel would have been far more concerned if theyd
checked into the welfare of Tynola. The FORMER planet Tynola. An otherworldly
dybbuk, an entity capable of occupying someones body, had been on a systematic
quest for power that led it to inhabit and drain the powers of one alien super-champion
after another. Srakka, as the parasite was called, was captured only once
while in one of his alien hosts and he vowed to have that champions body as
his next conquest — Vartox. Aware that it could only enter a super-beings
body if its prospective host was suffering the pain and anger of a great loss,
Srakka decided that a logical course of action would be the destruction of
The plot was all too successful. In a state of fury at losing a second world,
Vartox seemed to slay the super-champion, realizing only afterwards that never
before have I deliberately killed a conscious being. I cannot live with that!
Srakka found that his new body was in not only rage, but self-doubt. Because
he thought that he, not I, had killed my previous host, he went wandering
confused for a time ... until eventually he himself led me to the home of
my NEXT prey.
Having successfully expelled Vartoxs spirit from his body, Srakka abducted
Lana Lang in the hope of gaining access to Supermans Kryptonian form. When
Vartox killed Lana, Superman reacted exactly as hed hoped and went into a
frenzy. The parasite emerged from Vartoxs body with the intent of taking over
the Kryptonian but found himself blocked. The rage had been faked! Holding
the now-tangible dybbuk in his hand, Superman flew it deep into space for
a deep freeze on Pluto.
Srakka had reckoned without the psychic aspect of Vartoxs abilities, which
allowed him to take possession of a willing body and use his hyper-powers
through them. That body, ironically, was yet another would-be lover of Lana
Lang, an obsessed fan named Wally Gurkheim whod stalked the TV personality
in the past. In Wallys guise, Vartox had alerted Superman to the plot and
rescued Lana from seeming death. Speaking from Wallys body, Vartox assured
Lana thatwere it not for his essential goodness and generosity, I would not
have been able to inhabit his body to save you and Supermans sense of loss
at your death would not have been faked for the parasite.
Returning to Earth, Superman found Vartox and Wally back in control of their
respective bodies and Lana assured him that young Mister Gurkheim would have
a job at WGBS before the days out.
Thrusting his hand towards the hyper-man, Superman asked, Friends again?
Grabbing the hand, Vartox responded, Friends FOREVER! (1983s SUPERMAN #389-392,
by Bates, Swan and Hunt)
No one is quite certain what happened to Vartox after that. One account claims
that the former champion of Valeron made a final trip to Earth, arriving in
the wake of the murder of Lana Lang and the disappearance (1986s ACTION #583).
It might also be argued that the hyper-man eventually remarried and started
a family, one that extended several centuries into the future when a clean-shaven
lookalike named Damos worked with Jan Vern as an agent of Interplanetary Investigations
(1965s MYSTERY IN SPACE #100 & 102).
Yet another story suggests that Vartox didnt meet Superman until 1999,
shortly after the murder of Valerons green-skinned previous planetary champion,
Ontor, at the hands of an otherworldly serial killer known as the Anti-Hero
(TEAM SUPERMAN #1, by Mark Millar, georges Jeanty and Doug Hazelwood).
This incarnation of Vartox, who wore a less-revealing brown body suit with
a yellow stripe on the torso, was forced along with other alien heroes to
do the bidding of Brainiac or their respective homeworlds would be destroyed.
Having developed a deep respect for Superman in the short time that theyd
known each other, Vartox used his invisible hyper-shield to protect the Man
of Steel from a lethal blast from Brainiac. On Earth, Vartox and fellow heroes
Paz and Vestion drew a line in the sand and sent the villain into space as
they pursued him. Remain here and take care of your home and your loved ones,
Superman, the hyper-man shouted as they teleported away, for the day may come
when you might LOSE them(1999s SUPERMAN #148 & 150, by Dan Jurgens, Steve
Epting and Joe Rubinstein).
His so-called hyper-powers were psychic in nature and mostly directed through
his hands. Aside from the powers of super-strength, flight, super-sight, intangibility,
teleportation and telekinesis, he was capable of generating blasts of heat
and cold and could place his adversaries in suspended animation. His hyper-charge
amounted to a virtual death-bolt. He could also manipulate his hyper-energy
into forming nets, ropes, force bubbles or other basic objects. With hyper-hypnosis,
he could manipulate crowds into seeing whatever he wished. At one point, he
even defied all the laws of physics and turned a three-dimensional object
into a two-dimensional one. His ultimate exploitation of his abilities temporarily
converted (his) molecular structure into pure hyper-energy, generating a staggering
burst of destructive force.
The Vatmen were apparently one of the first groups of corporate super-heroes (much like Hero Hotline, the Conglomerate, or the Power Company). I believe the "Vat" referred to how the team was created/grown, rather than any Value Added Tax. All of the group either died or went crazy.
The only surviving Vatman we have seen was the man known as Synth, who was a shape-shifter. Synth's brain was also in a state of constant mutation, becoming super-smart one day and not recognizing his own reflection the next. Synth was working with a criminal organization and was guarding Mindy Falconer, the daughter of the man who used to be a super-villain known as The Piper. The Piper was being forced to rob a bank in the city of Vanity, otherwise his daughter would be killed. This brought Piper into conflict with the murdering hero known as Bloodtype and with Aztek the Ultimate Man. Synth and Mindy were actually working together, in order to take over the crime business in Vanity, but their plan backfired and Synth ended up killing Mindy when his IQ changed during the caper.
Aztek The Ultimate Man #1 (mention and appearance of Synth) and #2
First (and only) appearance: Fury of Firestorm Annual #4
A Los Angeles based medical student and user of Venom-X, Todd Walton, a
hallucenogenic drug with side effects, who transformed into a snake-like
man. Todd infected Felicity Smoak with Venom-X and went on a killing spree
in Los Angeles, killing Mr. Shark, the drug lord responsible for getting
him hooked on the drug. Stopped by Firestorm (whom he also sprayed with the
drug through his wrist-shooter...but did he die facing Firestorm, or was
his death an hallucination?). No known links to Eddie Slick, who had introduced
a mutigenic drug to wrestler King Crusher, or to Kobra, who had been based
in Califonia and later had agents who were transformed into snake-men, but
one never knows...
Written by Rich Meyer
The man known as Vext is a god. Not
a New God, but a god in the sense of Thor, Odin, Apollo, and Ares. Vext
was a member of the "Jejeune Realm"
(also known as the Borough of Mawkish Indifference) in the Pan-Dimensional
Pantheons. Vext was, in fact, the "patron deity of mishap and misfortune."
He was the embodiment of the principle of "Murphy's Law" - whatever
can go wrong will.
The problem was that the Jejeune Realm
was being phased out (read: obliterated from all existence) because they
were no longer being actively worshipped by mortal beings. Vext and his
fellow Gods were being evicted from their plane of existence, and unfortunately,
Vext did get the paperwork in the mail to choose his new home. After a
lot of confusion and waiting, Vext was sent to Earth, where he was to have
access to the whole planet and to live among human society, so long as
he didn't try to deliberately influence the course of human affairs, or
attempt to take over the planet, or become a super-hero. So the series
was basically about Vext's adventures as he tried to understand humans
and try to fit in to the routine in Delta City.
Vext took up residence in Apartment
4-A of Mr. Danforth's building in Delta City. He is right next door to
Colleen McBride, aspiring writer and temp. Colleen became Vext's friend
and does her best to help him adapt to the ways of the world.
Mr. Danford, the landlord, is very
hard of hearing and introduced Vext to his archenemy: The Murphy Bed. It
has a mind of its own and is trying to kill him. Really. Vext's other arch-enemy
is the toilet, which never stops running. You're just supposed to jiggle
it, but we all know that never works.
Vext did manage to grab a couple of
high-class guest stars in his first issue. Superman and Zauriel of the
JLA came by to warn Vext against attempting to wrest control of the planet
from Mankind. Not that that was something that had really crossed Vext's
Meanwhile, in a plot thread across
town, the series' also followed the adventures of rogue archaeologist Aaron
Caldwell in his attempts to collect icons and statues of "minor deities" -
the ones that were worshipped or idolized in peoples' homes rather than
temples - in various cultures, and gain power from them. His two lovely
assistants are Samantha and Louisa, and they don't necessarily share Aaron's
enthusiasm for his quest...but they are very good at shooting people. In
the first story, the trio went to the Amazon River basin and secured an
icon of Qrttglbrnglrtch, the nigh unpronounceable Patron Diety of Inadvertant
Armageddon (and as such, the fact that Sam and Louisa massacred the tribe
came as no surprise to the victims).
Vext met his first and only "super-villain" in
his second issue. Well, he wasn't really a super-villain...just a stressed-out
driver in a car who may or may not have had his metagene activated by the
fact that Vext, during his driver's test, turned on the same empty stretch
of road that the driver wanted to use. The driver became one with his car,
which changed into a really cool looking machine and off they went..CRASH!
In similar fashion, Vext also had trouble buying furnishings for his new
apartment (at "Not Too Shabby Discount Furniture").
VEXT #3 features the delivery of Vext's
furniture. What a stir that solicitiation must have caused in the comic
book world! Naturally, the furniture came unassembled. Colleen attempted
to help Vext, but ended up taking him to the emergency room when the furniture
came alive and attacked! No...not really. Vext did manage to trip and fall
on a drawer handle in such a way that he was used as an object lesson and
was berated by a puppet for being careless during a skit in the kiddie
Across town, the folks at GeneTech
discovered that their smart germs had taken a powder and scarpered away.
They had escaped all the way to Burger Biz and were well on their way to
complete control of the planet when they all ended up on Vext's burger.
They couldn't handle Vext's digestive system, and the world was saved.
Soon after Vext's arrival, most of
Aaron's collection of minor icons destroyed themselves, and Aaron (somehow
correctly) deduced that this meant that their plane of existence had ceased
to exist. He also figured out that the four remaining icons were intact
because the Gods they represented had physically manifested themselves
on Earth (three of these would obviously be Vext, Paramour and Rypta Gud'n.
The fourth was never mentioned).
Paramour, the Patron Deity of Relationships
Gone Hellishly Wrong showed up on Vext's door step in the next issue. She
is Vext's sister...or maybe his fiancée...or his ex-wife. We're not really
sure. She was there to stay with Vext, as her last romantic dalliance had
ended with his wife throwing her out. She got the bed and she snores.
Aaron and Louisa went on expedition
to the M'Tanga Plateau in Zaire, Africa. They had already been to Madagascar,
Tasmania, Iraq, Turkey and Timbuktu and not found what Aaron was looking
for, which was Rypta Gud'n (the Patron Deity of Ill-Timed Flatulence).
Louisa got to the heart of the matter with the local tribe (blowing away
the chief and all the witnesses) and went into the methane-filled temple
(which had been sublet to Rypta from Ch'mbalamba, the Serpent God). After
a rather Indiana Jones-esque exit from said temple, Aaron and Louisa met
Rypta outside the temple, where they convinced him (and each other) to
go back with them for observation and tests to figure out how to siphon
off his godly abilities. Naturally, they didn't tell him that last part.
Paramour caused considerable confusion
in issue #5, when trying to explain her relationship with Vext to Colleen.
Vext admonished Paramour to tell Colleen the truth, and she did. Unfortunately,
it was the truth about her and Vext being gods exiled on Earth. Luckily,
Colleen took it pretty much in stride, since in the world of super-heroes
"demonic and angelic visitations have become so commonplace these days".
In another plot thread across town,
Aaron and the girls had Rypta in their now rather smelly penthouse and
were setting up the "testing equipment", which was actually a
device that Aaron hoped would channel Rypta's Godly abilities into himself,
making him immortal. The girls fled the building to wait, and bet that
Aaron would forget to ground the machine. The top of the building exploded.
Rypta was dead, but Aaron was unharmed, and apparently had succeeded in
his quest...but he had ALL of Rypta's abilities, including the flatulence
While all of this was going on, the
Pan-Dimensional Zone Monitor Surveillance center had watched the situation
unfold with Colleen, Paramour and Vext, and we're going to take a hand
in things. Vext told Colleen that it really wouldn't be a good idea for
her to write about the God-thing, as just her knowing as much as she did
was usually grounds for immediate termination by the Zone Monitors. She
didn't take that news nearly as well as she did the Vext-God stuff.
While Vext and Colleen talked, Paramour
prepared herself for a trip to the "Better Than Nothing" dating
service. She picked a very hapless case for her first date: Aaron.
Our final issue opened with Vext dying
on the battlefields of Asgard, Colleen being "modified" by the
Zone Monitors, and Aaron sneaking off to avoid Samantha and Louisa (who
kept one step ahead of him where ever he went in the world). Well actually
everyone was just having bad dreams. Vext was invited in for a cup of cocoa
with Colleen. The End.
NOTE: Vext is the second "super-hero" to
set up shop in Delta City, the first being, of course, The Heckler.
The Viking Commando appeared in ALL-OUT WAR #1-6, plus a left-over
episode in UNKNOWN SOLDIER #266 and 267 and the entry in WHO'S WHO '87 #25.
Only appearance: Green Arrow #12
Created by Kevin Smith, Virago was a female superhero operating out
of Philadelphia. An apparent rookie, she had about a dozen arrests to her
credit, mostly muggings, breaking and enterings, etc. While out on patrol
on the rooftops of the city, she was lured into a trap by a tape recorded
cry for help. The mysterious villain, Onomatopeia, wounded her with a rifle
and then, as she lay kneeling helpless and wounded on the ground, he put
a pistol to her head and shot her dead.
Her origins and identity were unknown. She had no apparent powers although
she did the usual swinging on the rooftops with a rope. If she had any powers,
they didn't come in handy against a guy with a gun.
Her name was supposed to be ironic because she was actually quite a good-looking
lady. I assume she was created mainly to show what a dangerous fellow Onomatopeia
Real name: Ren Uoxon
First (and only) appearance: "The Heroine Haters," Adventure Comics
#384 (Sept. 1969), by Cary Bates, Win Mortimer and Jack Abel.
Known relatives: Danon (father), Mara (mother)
Base of operations: Torma ("second planet of Star-Sun 447B")
Powers: Magna-vision, magna-strength and possibly other powers analogous to
Supergirl's. Volar gained these powers from exposure to the "magna-beam"
invented by Danon.
After her roommates at Stanhope College get computer dates, Linda "Supergirl"
Danvers bemoans her fate - "They're perfectly happy with the guys the
computer chose for them! But even with fellows I like, I still have the uncomfortable
realization that I'm SUPER... and they're NOT! No boy on Earth could meet
This gives Supergirl an idea. Superman keeps records on thousands of champions
on other worlds, so she flies to the Fortress of Solitude and uses his computer
for "Operation Super-Match." Superman arrives and begins to protest
just as the computer selects a super-being named Volar (an anagram for Valor,
perhaps?), who fights crime on the planet Torma. "What a handsome hunk
of hero!" the Maid of Might cheers.
Superman reminds Supergirl that his computer is only a machine and that appearances
can be deceiving, but she refuses to listen and goes to Torma to meet Volar.
The two become friends and fight crime together. Supergirl realizes she "could
really go for Volar." But she senses something strange about the Magna
Marvel and is confused when he shows no romantic interest in her. Meanwhile,
Volar's father frets that "X-Day" is approaching.
Supergirl is also surprised to learn that she is a pariah on Torma. Troman
men consider all women inferior thanks to the teachings of the Visitor, a
philosopher who visited the planet long ago.
The Visitor (who was apparently stood up for the junior-high Harvest Moon
Dance) traveled space, spreading the message that women were worthless and
weak and backing it up with a "suppressor-beam," an energy beam
that brainwashed women into submission. Over the following centuries, each
generation was indoctrinated into believing the Visitor's teachings.
After overhearing Volar and his father discussing X-Day, Supergirl confronts
him. Volar tries to send her away, but, believing him to be terminally ill,
she refuses. When X-Day arrives, Supergirl learns Volar's shocking secret
and flees Torma thinking, "I'm heading back to Earth — where I BELONG!
I found out VOLAR was no HIT... but a REAL MISS!"
A miss, indeed. Volar is actually a woman masquerading as a male to avoid
sexual discrimination. Danon had created a "living mask" to hid
his daughter's true gender. On X-Day, however, he ran out of the last of the
"vitalizing serum" that made the mask so life-like and which made
Volar's voice sound deeper.
"You saw how our men treated SUPERGIRL! The same thing will happen to
you if TORMA finds out its mighty hero is a GIRL!" Danon says. "...You
must give up your career!"
"No, dad!" Volar responds. "SUPERGIRL never let those sneers
and jeers stop her... and I won't either! I'll teach people that a girl can
be as good as ANY man... and BETTER than SOME!" Volar is last seen on
patrol as a woman.
Curiously, on the cover (by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson) Volar bears a
passing resemblance to Pete Ross. He has redish-blonde (orange) hair and wears
a brown top and boots, a white utility belt, black trunks with yellow highlights
and green tights. Inside, he has brown hair and wears a baggy purple top with
white sleeves, a yellow utility belt, black trunks, white tights and purple
boots and cape. About the only things the two versions of Volar have in common
are their "mod" sideburns. After Volar "outs" herself,
she sports a mostly black uniform with purple trunks and boots and a large
white "V" on her torso.
Vox, the Bionic Bandit
Profile by <erdmann>
His sole comic book appearance was inauspicious, campy and an issue late. Yet,
somehow, he managed to earn a guest shot on TV's "Justice League," something
even Hal Jordan and Captain Marvel can't swing. To whom do I refer? Why, none
other than Vox, the Bionic Bandit!
Vox, who was actually a mad scientist cyborg, not a bandit, was the creation
of writers Jack C. Harris and Martin Pasko and artist Joe Staton. Originally
slated to appear in the 50th issue of DC's revived METAL MEN series, Vox's tale
"Killing Me Softly with his Scream", fell prey to the Dreaded Deadline Doom
and was bumped back to issue #51 (April-May 1977). Issue #50 was a partial reprint
of METAL MEN #6 (featuring the Gas Gang), with a new framing sequence. The issue
ended with the Metal Band and Doc Magnus taken into custody by U.S. soldiers
assigned to Project Automation under the orders of Col. S.M. "Whip" Craven.
In issue #51, it was revealed that Craven wanted Doc to turn over the secret
of the Metal Men's shape-shifting abilities so the government could use it to
create superior robot troops. While they talked, the storage room in which the
Metal Men were held was attacked by a group of silent para-military types whose
uniforms bore a large white "V" on the front. The robot captured them and when
Craven attempted to interrogate one, the soldier "willed himself to die" rather
Vox, who spoke through a mechanical larynx, had an aversion to the human voice
because it reminded him of the kind of voice he would never have again. When
one of him men attempted to inform him about the capture of the troops, Vox
screamed, unleashing a sonic blast that killed the man.
The creator of a breed of cyborg soldiers called "Cyboriginals", Vox also wanted
the Metal Men's secret so he could make the troops he provided Communist Block
counties invincible. Leading a second attack himself, Vox captured Doc, Craven
Back at his HQ, Vox failed to extract the secret from Magnus, so he decided
to cut off the stubborn inventor's head. Craven offered to tell all if Vox would
spare Doc and replace his faulty pacemaker with a cyborg heart. Vox agreed and
Craven told him of the responsometers, the mini-computers inside each Metal
Man's head. Realizing he could reverse engineer them from studying the one inside
Iron, Vox promptly went back to trying to kill Doc. Enraged at the betrayal,
Craven suffered a fatal heart attack.
Meanwhile, Gold, Lead, Tina, Tin and Mercury took the forms of Cyboriginals
and tricked the survivors of the first attack into leading them to Vox's base.
There they merged to form a single giant robot (the first appearance of Alloy
from "Kingdom Come," perhaps?) and attacked. Vox ordered the polarity reversed
on the giant electro-magnet holding Iron, sending the robot crashing into his
fellows. It didn't slow Mercury, however. He decked Vox, smashing his mechanical
voice box. Unfortunately, the giant buzzsaw about to decapitate Doc was programmed
to only respond to Vox's voice commands. Fortunately, the Metals were able to
fling Lead into the saw, destroying it at the last minute.
And so, with the creator saved, Craven dead and Vox and his troops defeated,
the Metal Men were ready to call it a night.
And that was the end of Vox... until a couple weeks ago when Cartoon Network
aired an episode of "Justice League" in which a character named Vox appeared
as a flunky to Vandal Savage.
This Vox could also unleash sonic blasts from his mechanical larynx to devastating
and deadly effect. In many ways, he was similar to the henchmen James Bond's
enemies always keep around — ruthless, single-minded and loyal — fitting for
an episode that had a Bond-style plot. Another difference was appearance. While
the TV Vox wore military garb, the comic book version dressed in a tight, pale
green jumpsuit that sported a large white V that framed his bare chest. He also
wore a purple cape, light blue hip boots and a skull cap (which may have been
attached). His lower jaw was metal, whereas the TV version appeared to have
a relatively normal face.
Vox actually could be used to go effect. He was a homicidal insane genius who
though nothing of harvesting body parts from his fallen men to use on new cyborgs.
With a better wardrobe and less campy dialogue, he could be a really creepy
contender against many DC characters.
Written by Richard Meyer
Blackie Stover was an ace pilot with a big problem - he was an alcoholic. He
was able to ride along on his piloting skill, until one day when he was grounded
because he was inebriated before he was scheduled to fly a passenger flight
out of the Metropolitan Flying Field. Stover didn't take kindly to this and
forced himself on the plane, knocking out Charles Collins, the substitute pilot,
and taking it up. Collins woke up as Stover was just trying to take off and
the resultant scuffle caused the plane to crash. No one was injured, but Stover's
career as a pilot was over.
Two years later, Charles Collins was killed by English spies as he tried to
save the life of Deborah Wallace. Collins body was brought back to life by the
ghost of Keith Everet, who had dwelt for many years in Castle Connaught, so
that he could be near Deborah, who was the namesake and near-doppelganger for
his own dead love. Everet was known at times by the sobriquet the Grim Ghost
(originally the Gay Ghost).
Soon after the new Collins returned to America, he and Deborah ran into Stover
in a bar. Unfortunately, Everet-as-Collins did not have the memories of the
original man, and when Deborah asked him to say hello to Stover, he was very
awkward and told the disgraced pilot that they should call off their differences.
Stover asked if Collins would like to work for him as a pilot, and Collins agreed
to talk to him the next day (Stover believed that he must be in some kind of
trouble to even come and talk to him).
The next day, Stover admitted that his "wings" had never been clipped, as it
were, and he had organized other grounded flyers like himself into an outlaw
organization known as the Vultures, complete with costumes. Their activities
were apparently very profitable, and Stover took Collins along on the next raid
because then the pilot would be in "as deep as the rest of us - simple, isn't
it?". Unfortunately, as Stover was about to force Collins aboard a plane at
gunpoint, Deborah happened by in her car. Collins moved in front of the woman
and refused Stover's invitation to join the Vultures, and was rewarded with
a gunshot wound that looked to have killed him. Stover then kidnapped Deborah
aboard the plane, with the invisible spirit of the Grim Ghost close behind.
The Grim Ghost first disabled the weapons of the other planes in the Vultures'
squadron, as they closed in on a gold plane flying in from the coast. As Stover
led the planes in their attack run, the Ghost materialized in Stover's plane
and freed Deborah, handing her a large wrench and telling her not to use it
until they got "the goods on this Vulture crowd". The Ghost then appeared in
front of Stover's plane, whose machine gun bullets passed harmlessly through
him. The Ghost gave the word and Deborah clubbed Stover with the wrench, while
wave after wave of the Vultures' planes made totally ineffective runs against
the gold plane. The confused pilots of the gold plane contacted the Army air
field as the other planes continued their useless foray.
The controls of Stover's plane were different than any other Deborah had ever
flown before, and she lost control. The plane went into a terrifying tailspin.
The Ghost streaked back and took control of the plane, and Deborah thanked him,
but wished that he could do something for Collins, whom she thought was dead.
The Ghost told her that the man was still alive and would be all right when
they got back (and when the Ghost could reanimate him). The Ghost kept the pilots
captive at their hidden landing area, until the Army Air Force planes arrived
to take them into custody.
Sensation Comics #8
Original text copyright DC
Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.