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The Power Company

“As he watched the spacecraft hurtle into the atmosphere, the scientist pulled his wife a little closer to him and a rush of optimism washed over him. Their world was coming to an end but, for their only son, a new world awaited. Through him, Atlantis would live on.

The rocket had been aimed at “the asteroid Juno, where our telescopes detected civilization” identical to the human race and was equipped with a suspended animation chamber to protect the infant during the long journey. The unit proved to be an unexpected blessing when it arrived in a remote section of Juno and was soon buried in the world’s dense jungle. An incredible 10,000 years passed before an archeologist named Vorne found the vessel and triggered its escape hatch. The fresh air instantly revived the baby boy and the explorer looked on him as the child he and his wife had prayed for.

Ma and Pa Vorne soon realized that young Zarl was an unusual child, one given to balancing heavy furniture in the palm of his hand when he was still in the crawling stage. The gravitational difference between Earth and Juno (presumably in tandem with other unknown factors) had clearly had an effect on the toddler. At the encouragement of his parents, Zarl took the persona of Power-Boy, protecting his home of Midville and defending Juno against its greatest threat, the insidious Creeping Jungle. The ecological nightmare virtually choked half the planet, transforming everything in its path. “Even the stones sprout jungle vegetation.” After a variety of options (“fire, acid, bombs”) failed, Zarl successfully “used atomic rays to check its advance.”

The people of Juno wore an Arabic style of clothing with loose-fitting shirts and pants, vests and turbans partially covered by hoods and short capes. Power-Boy differed from the majority by wearing a more skin-tight green tunic (with a red triangle icon on his chest containing the English letter “P”) and red tights along with green boots and the obligatory turban (yellow — with a jewel) and hood/cape (red). As Zarl, he wore the tradional Juno garb and disguised himself further with eyeglasses. Thanks to an accelerated educational program, Zarl was already part of Juno’s workforce as an inventor.

Some fifteen years into Zarl’s revival (as time is measured on Earth), the planetoid was chanced upon by Superboy as he returned “from a brief mission in outer space.” Almost immediately, he witnessed the world’s resident hero destroy an incoming meteor and, after a crash course in Juno’s language and history at a library, the Boy of Steel decided to pay a visit to the hero he’d now identified as Power-Boy.

Deducing that his counterpart would also have a secret identity, Superboy isolated him with his x-ray vision and strolled up to Zarl Vorne, addressing him as Power-Boy. Once the Boy of Steel demonstrated his good intentions, he and Power-Boy became fast friends, comparing their parallel origins and going into action together.

The joy of having a super-companion was soon diminished when Power-Boy inexplicably fell ill. Superboy graciously offered to fill in for him but Juno’s protector felt compelled to accompany him when the Creeping Jungle made a resurgence. Leaving Power-Boy at the edge of the vined threat, the Boy of Steel conceived a radical cure for the planet’s ills. Fashioning an enormous saw blade, he literally cut the planet in half and sent the infested portion hurtling into Juno’s sun. Before the surviving portion of Juno could be devastated by the loss of fifty percent of its mass, Superboy “sliced another uninhabited planet in half. I’m now joining a new half to Juno. I’ll seal the edges together with super pressure later.”

Unknown to Superboy, his companion had been snared by the Creeping Jungle and was plunging towards a fiery doom, as well. Miraculously, Power-Boy’s vitality returned to him as the Creeping Jungle reached the rim of the sun. Witnessing the narrow escape with his telescopic vision, the Boy of Steel finally deduced the cause of his friend’s strange weakness and made a quick departure. A skywritten message explained everything:

“Juno’s magnetic field reacted to my body from Krypton, producing invisible rays which weakened you. Thus, I was responsible for your weakness. Farewell forever.”
Power-Boy has since made an unidentified cameo in the crowd scene at the opening of Superboy & The Ravers # 5. And one can’t help but be struck by the contrast of his origin with the post-Crisis history of another DC character. Like Zarl Vorne, she was an Atlantean refugee placed in suspended animation for millennia and revived with super-powers (Secret Origins # 11). Her name is Powergirl.
How odd is that? I, of all people, had no clue that Powergirl’s post-crisis origin actually stemmed from this 1950’s Superboy issue.

Powergirl~Power-Boy

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