As lightning flashed and thunder boomed, a decidedly odd gathering occurred within an old castle that rested in the hills of Gotham Heights. The European castle had been brought over from its original resting place long ago by an eccentric and wealthy recluse. While he had been considered strange by many people in Gotham City, even he would have gasped at the revelation of how his home had been occupied since his own death.
A large round table dominated the main room that started at the foot of a steep staircase. Four figures sat around the table, while a fifth person lounged seductively across the top of the table itself.
She was a sexy blonde in a tight black leather costume and high-heeled boots. Her lips were bright red, and her eyes gleamed with a natural and unaided green. She dangled a shiny bracelet from one hand and batted at the attached charms with her other hand. Her sharp nails were painted bright red. She purred softly to herself as she played with the costly jewelry.
The elegantly clad and highly fastidious young man who sat across from the feline femme fatale watched her from behind a monocle with a look of fascination mingled with disdain. He sniffed in a haughty manner and pulled at the tips of his spotless white gloves.
“Must she do that? I find that mewing of hers rather unsettling!” he said.
The woman in the skintight costume rolled over and placed her chin on top of her crossed hands. She stared at the man with an alluring if hungry smile on her face.
“Now, Pengy, don’t get your feathers ruffled. I simply adore birds!” she said as she licked her lips.
He jumped up and away from the table as an umbrella clattered to the floor. “Now see here, Queen of Cats, I will not allow you to demean me with your cat and mouse games!” he said. “I am the Penguin! Do not try to intimidate me!”
The Queen of Cats laughed deliciously and rolled agilely into a chair. She placed her legs over one arm and sighed with pleasure. “My, my, my! You do need to loosen up!” she said.
A woman with bright red hair leaned forward and placed one hand on the Penguin’s arm. “The hussy! Don’t let her tease you, Ossie,” she said as he returned to his seat.
“Valerie, I must insist that you refer to me as Oswald or as O.C., if you must address me by anything other than my nom du crime,” he said.
She smiled and said, “Sorry, Oswald. You know that I’m proud of my super-villain name, too, but you don’t hear me telling special friends to call me Killer Moth instead of Val!”
A second redhead brought her sword down on the table as she assumed a position just behind an armored man who listened and watched the others as he sipped brandy. “Silence, all!” she said. “The Round Table of Crime must come to order so our right noble liege may give us his orders!”
The Crimelord nodded in approval. “Well said, Lady Crimson. You are my good right arm, as ever. Still, decorum may yield to the high spirits of peers such as these fine rogues!”
The Queen of Cats said, “Crimelord, since we joined your little clique, we’ve acquired a pleasant sum through protecting your thugs — or knaves, if you prefer the term. Still, this pretty kitty is bored! Cat-napping can only do so much for a girl’s morale. I wish to prowl the city.”
“Yeah!” said Killer Moth. “I agree with Queenie. I don’t mind roughing up cops, but ever since that Black Canary witch defeated me, I’ve wanted to fight a costumed type. (*) My old man was always quick to mix it up with Batman, and I’d like to carry on his tradition!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Arrowette: Legacies, Chapter 2: Generational Hatred.]
The Penguin sneered as he said, “My dear, with all due respect to your esteemed pater, my own sire, the first Penguin, was the one who gave Batman fits. May he rest in peace.”
Crimelord smiled and thought, Poor lad. He either refuses to accept that his father reformed, or perhaps he does not know that Cobblepot the elder still lives. Mayhaps he faked his death to escape from the murderous boy!
A hooded figure stepped out of the shadows and approached the table as lightning flashed and revealed a deathly pale face beneath the hood and cloak.
“Egad! Not that terrible Frostbite woman again!” cried the Penguin. “She may be Mister Zero’s child, but her vampiric ways leave me cold!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See World’s Best: Power Girl and Red Robin: Dark Knights: Final Fright.]
“Leave ya cold! That’s a good one! Then again, seeing how this place is all King Arthur-like, cold fowl should be on the menu!” cried the cloaked woman as she shed the cloak and turned a cartwheel.
The Queen of Cats, alias Michelle Kyle, fluffed her long blonde hair as it trailed out from the back of her cowl, and she frowned in disbelief. “That’s not Frostbite,” she hissed. “That’s the Joker’s daughter!”
Indeed, the newcomer was dressed in the red and white motley and bells of a jester. She rolled to her feet and bowed low to the Crimelord. “Call me Harley! As in, Harley Quinn! I’m here to offer my services to you! My, you are a dark and stormy knight, ain’t ya?” she said as she eyed Crimelord.
Lady Crimson scowled and stepped forward as light gleamed off her red armor. Her arms and legs were bare, but her helmet and chestplate gave her the look of an ancient warrior as she wished. “Step away from my liege!” she said.
“Hey, sister, I know when to liege well enough alone!” said Harley. “Why don’tcha fetch us some mead like a nice wench? I’d get the diet kind if I was you, Red Sonja!”
Lady Crimson drew her sword and sputtered in rage as Crimelord said, “Melissa of Lyons, do bring us refreshments. We would hear more from this dizzy damsel. She amuses us!”
Harley capered into his lap and said, “Every king needs a court jester, and I’m just the girl for you!”
Lady Crimson sputtered in helpless anger and then stomped off to get the drinks.
“And what may we do for you?” asked the Crimelord.
Harley Quinn smiled broadly and said, “I thought you’d never ask!”
Several weeks later, a bored Jason Todd stared at his reflection in a mirror in the huge lab within the Batcave beneath stately Wayne Manor. He wore his customary Batwing cape and costume, but his face was now heavily freckled, and his hair was a shaggy red mane.
“I look like Jimmy Olsen gone to seed!” he quipped.
The dark-haired woman in purple and blue who sat across from him laughed and mussed up his hair until it fell off and was revealed to be a wig.
“Mr. Olsen would dearly love to have that much hair. The poor dear went bald long ago. Still, you did look like the old actor who played Andy in those war-era Judge Drew family flicks!”
Batwing smiled and said, “Really? I guess I have learned a few things from Dick and you. I’m no master of disguise yet, but I can still change my looks in a convincing way.”
The Huntress, alias Helena Wayne, smiled and said, “You’ve picked up a good number of skills, young grasshopper!”
He smiled and said, “I have a long way to go before I’ll be as good as Batman’s kids!”
The Huntress nodded sadly. “Even Robin feels like he’ll never equal Dad. I think we’ll both always have that example to shoot for, and it will only make us better at what we do.”
Alfred Beagle entered and cleared his throat to get their attention. The butler moved with a silence grace that still impressed Jason even after he had lived with him for a good amount of time.
“Miss Helena, Master Jason, I fear Commissioner O’Hara needs your help. The Bat-Signal is flashing.”
Jason blinked in surprise and gestured toward a blinking control panel. “It sure is! I was so busy jawing that I failed to see the light. Dick would really give me the business over that if he was home.”
The Huntress slipped on her own bat-shaped mask and said, “It will be our secret. Now, let’s see what the esteemed Clancy O’Hara wants this evening.”
The dynamite duo arrived at Gotham City Police Headquarters, where Sgt. Harvey Hainer Jr. promptly led them into the office of Commissioner Clancy O’Hara. The gruff but concerned O’Hara quickly clasped hands with the Huntress as he rushed forward.
“Huntress, sure and you’re a welcome sight for these weary eyes! Good to see you too, lad! We just received word of an incident at Gotham State Prison! Could you two look into the matter?” he asked hurriedly.
“Certainly,” said the Huntress. “I take it some super-villains are involved in the breakout?”
O’Hara shook his head and said, “That’s just it. The crooks aren’t breaking out! It’s a break-in!”
The stark, high walls of Gotham State Prison had been mute witnesses to many acts of villainy or courage, but this night a strange sight filled the courtyard as a costumed woman crashed a heavily armored vehicle directly through the walls and forced her way deeper into the jail.
The Killer Moth smiled wildly as she steered the assault vehicle and blasted her way through the gates and walls until she had reached a particular wing. “I don’t know where that zany dame found the blueprints for this thing, but I ain’t going to complain!” she said.
Valerie Van Cleef deliberately assumed the diction and verbiage of a tough street girl to mask the fact that she had, in fact, been something of a pampered society girl thanks to the ill-gotten wealth her criminal father had given her mother years ago.
She heard the alarms and saw guards rushing forward with their own heavy assault weapons, but she knew the tank could shrug off their best efforts. “I know Harley didn’t invent this beauty, but the person who did create it must have been a genius,” she said.
Killer Moth pushed a button, and fire gutted out of the tank to block the path of the guards. “Can’t stand the heat, get outta the prison!” she said.
Slipping on an insect-like green helmet and activating her artificial wings, she flew out of the tank and tried to locate the cell she wanted. She glanced over to where other prisoners pleaded for her to free them, and she ignored their cries.
Losers! she thought. Let them rot! I’ll just get this old dude and make tracks! She found a cell in which one ugly and frail little man paced restlessly. “Stand back! I’ll blow open your bars!” she cried.
He nodded and jumped away as she used her wrist-blasters to melt the lock. The door opened easily as she landed and pulled it aside. The little man smiled and followed her toward the tank.
“You don’t seem all that surprised to see me. In fact, the way you were pacing makes me think you almost expected me!” she yelled as they moved up and into the tank.
He grinned and said, “Oh, I saw you in a dream!”
As they prepared to close the hatch, the pair hesitated long enough for Killer Moth’s helmet sensors to detect the arrival of the Huntress and Batwing.
Killer Moth smiled and said, “I hear the names of some creeps I’d like to meet!” She turned to the smaller man and said, “Catch a few winks, Doc. I’m going after some super-types!”