At some point, Vartox was sentenced to Fort Rozz by Judicator Alura Zor-El. When the prison crash-landed on Earth in 2003, he was amongst the many inmates who escaped. Afterwards, Vartox was recruited by Astra to serve her army's cause.
Flight 237 sabotage
In late 2015, working with The Commander, Vartox planted a bomb on Flight 237 to kill several D.E.O. agents it was transporting to prepare Earth for Astra's plans. After the bomb detonated though, Supergirl managed to catch the plane, saving everyone on board.
Vartox watched the news reporting the Supergirl's heroic actions in a diner. In his truck, he conversed with The Commander regarding the setback in the Flight 237 sabotage and the two deduced that Supergirl could be the second House of El heir sent to Earth - Alura's daughter. Vartox informed The Commander that taking out Supergirl may result in a "public" and "messy" death, eager to ensure the heroine would pay for Alura's actions.
Some days later, Vartox communicated with Supergirl at a 50,000 Hz frequency designed to reach her enhanced hearing, demanding that she face him at National City Power Plant or he would subject the city to the same frequency. Once Supergirl arrived at the plant, Vartox ambushed and attacked her, declaring his intent to get revenge on Alura for his imprisonment by killing her daughter. After a brief struggle, Vartox gained the upper hand and began mocking Supergirl for thinking she could stand against them, unlike her cousin. After wounding Supergirl with his axe, Vartox began choking her until the D.E.O. intervened. Vartox was chased by a firing helicopter but managed to escape.
Defeat and death
That night, Vartox drove to National City, intent on harming the people, when he was stopped by Supergirl, who destroyed his truck. The two had a rematch, but Vartox gained the advantage when he used his axe to knock Supergirl to the ground. When Supergirl pretended to give up, Vartox prepared to make the killing strike with his axe, asking that she give Alura his regards. However, Supergirl used her heat vision on his axe, overheating the weapon and causing it to explode. Vartox was severely burned by the blast, but survived. Not wanting to be captured, Vartox warned Supergirl that the true threat would soon come before committing suicide by stabbing himself in the chest with a fragment of the axe.
Powers and abilities
- Valeronian physiology: Vartox's Valeronian physiology granted him special powers.
- Superhuman strength: Vartox was much stronger than a normal human, able to inflict injury on a solar-empowered Kryptonian like Supergirl.
- Invulnerability: Vartox could take extensive damage to his body; he was shown to be resilient enough to endure physical blows from Supergirl without a scratch. Vartox also survived being hurled through burning debris and caught in an explosive blast.
- Super leaping: Vartox could jump extreme distances.
- Skilled hand-to-hand combatant: In addition to tremendous raw strength, Vartox was also a capable fighter, able to easily evade Supergirl's strikes and inflict specific blows to subdue her. He gained the upper hand in both their encounters, largely due to Supergirl's inexperience in close quarters combat.
- Multilingual: Vartox is capable of learning to speak other languages very quickly
- Axe: To aid him in combat, Vartox wielded a special axe emitting a high level of heat that, when aided by his super strength, is strong enough to pierce a Kryptonian's skin. In their final battle, Supergirl destroyed the axe with her heat vision, after which Vartox used a shard of the weapon to kill himself.
Adventures of Supergirl
Behind the scenes
- Vartox debuted in Superman vol. 1, #281 (November, 1974) as the greatest superhero of the galaxy M104. He was a close friend and equal to Superman from the planet Valeron. Vartox made several appearances in the New 52 Power Girl comic book series, where he tried to woo her. The character was based on the protagonist of the live-action film Zardoz (February, 1974), played by actor Sean Connery. He was created by Cary Bates and Curt Swan.