Sharon Dempsey had been working as a dancer in the seedy Kitty’s Korner for three weeks. She disliked wearing the bunny-styled outfit that had been shoddily turned into a kitty costume. She’d wanted to be a ballerina. Still, the tips were good.
She frowned as her tail got caught in the dressing room door for the fifth time. Pulling it free, she prepared to change to go home. It had been a long night. She kicked off her high heels and stopped. A creak sounded outside the door, which she could hear even with the TV on. She turned the television off in the cramped room, just as a news report about the Huntress’ recapture of Lionmane was being aired.
Peering out nervously, she held one pump in her hand as a makeshift weapon. “Who is it? Julie? Lee?” she called, assuming it was one of the other dancers.
She saw nothing, so she changed and walked out the door. As she rounded a corner, she saw the club’s safe ajar. She gasped when her eyes caught a sleek figure crouching near the safe. She screamed as the nightmarish feline figure pounced upon her, and she knew no more.
The next day, Sharon woke up in Gotham General. She had been knocked cold, but was otherwise unhurt. A tired cop entered to take her statement.
“Miss Dempsey, can you recall anything about the robbery?” he asked. “Who hit you? Did you get a look at him?”
“Call me Demps,” she said. “I did see her. It was a woman. It was Catwoman!”
He blinked. “I’d better call the commish.”
Helena Wayne yawned and crossed the marble floors of Wayne Manor. It was good to be back in her old home, even though the suburban quiet had not proven to be so restful to the city girl, so recently after she had recaptured the escaped felon, Lionmane.
She smiled as Alfred Beagle entered with her morning breakfast. “Good morning, Miss,” he said. “I trust you still like the eggs prepared in this manner?” said the loyal man who had played such a role in raising her.
“Of course. You never forget,” she said, planting a kiss on his cheek.
“My, yes. A gentleman’s gentleman does try to remain on top of his game,” he said.
Helena smiled. It was good to be with Alfred again and especially to see the rejuvenated butler looking so fit and keen.
“Master Dick and Miss Kara made the headlines in Metropolis,” he announced. “It seems those rogues Punch and Jewely struck again, but they apprehended the nefarious pair.”
Helena glanced at the story. “Hmm. Punch tied Kara up in a giant Jack-in-the-box and dressed her like Barbie; I bet she was furious!” she said with a laugh.
“Indeed. Their vacation is not proving to be restful,” he said. “Apparently, neither is yours.”
Helena nodded. “I have to get used to the quiet again. I’m used to sleeping downtown among the bustle of urban life.”
“Considering your late father’s iron habits, I’m rather surprised you sleep at all!” replied Alfred.
Helena agreed. The devotion Alfred Beagle had for the Wayne family still touched her.
“Oh, dear,” said Alfred. “Commissioner O’Hara is on the special phone. I allowed the modulator to make him think I was Red Robin. It appears the Kitty Korner was robbed last night.”
Helena frowned. “I’ll handle it.”
Alfred coughed. “Miss, the witness claims Catwoman was the culprit.”
Helena choked on her juice. “I knew that witch could not be trusted. Dick was blinded by her… assets,” she said grimly. “Miss Yolanda Montez is going down hard!” she vowed. “I owe it to mother’s memory,” she added softly.
The Huntress swung across the city she loved and soon found what she sought at the scene of the crime.
The cat motif, the robbery without murder, the costume… all add up to one thing, she mused. Someone is copying mother’s old M.O. I’d guess it was Yolanda. Her rock music lifestyle makes her a bit shady at best, even if she’s managed to fool Syl into making her a member of Infinity Inc. Those flashy gowns and revealing dresses she wears at the music events she covers all suggest she would have the kinky urge to do this. A strip club, no less!
She bent to pick up a tiny fiber. A thread, from what I would bet the manor on, was a whip — specifically a cat o’ nine tails!
Helena made her way back to the Batcave, where a few minutes in the lab confirmed her theory. “These fibers came from a whip like mother’s old ones. Yolanda is really pushing the Catwoman motif,” she said, slamming down her gloved fist.
“How dare she? How dare she! She wears mother’s costume and revives the name and look that we all hoped had been forgotten. Mother paid for her crimes. She paid with her life, in a way. From the day she became Mrs. Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle worked ceaselessly for charity, civic reform, and even animal causes. She buried her old life, and this hussy dares to smear what reputation she had earned by her good deeds!”
Alfred watched silently. It was rare the woman in purple showed such passion. She usually kept such a cold rein on her feelings. This was a trait her late father had early in his career before Dick brightened his life and turned him into the cheerful father figure who protected Gotham City with humor, courage, and mercy. Alfred feared Miss Helena was heading for a sad life if someone did not reach through her defenses soon.
The Huntress knew her mother, the late Selina Kyle, had been notorious as Catwoman. She thought the past had been buried along with the loving, bold woman who had raised her and been a loyal partner to her stalwart father. Now she hurt with an anger both personal and oddly powerful in its display.
Roger Morris was a tired businessman. He closed down his jewelry shop for the night with relief. It had been such a trying day. That spoiled Miss Van Dyne had kept him on his feet all day as she tried on and discarded diamond after diamond. He hoped for a good night’s sleep. He got one, but not as he had expected.
A woman in a purple dress, split high to each thigh, tackled him from out of the shadows. She purred contently as she tied the little man up, and her gleaming high-heeled black boots echoed across the floor as her red-painted nails deftly cracked his safe.
As he watched the black-haired beauty fill a sack with his wears, he could only think, It’s Catwoman, back from the dead!
She laughed with a throaty chuckle and agilely climbed back out the air-conditioning vent from whence she came.
The next day a weary Huntress stalked the Batcave like a panther. She was angry.
“She struck again,” said Helena. “While I staked out the obvious target — Lady Panthia Vyne’s reception — this new Catwoman hit a jewelry store with absolutely no tie to a cat motif.”
Alfred turned to the computer. “Perhaps we should…” he began.
“No! No more study. No more lab work. It’s time the Huntress found Montez and used her fists to teach that Latin harlot what it means to mess with the daughter of the Catwoman!” she said, racing out.
Alfred frowned. “I pray she does not forget that she is also the daughter of Batman.”
Yolanda Montez was the center of attention as she did a shimmy in the popular Night Fever disco. She wore a beaded, fringed, gold minidress and high heels, and every male in the club cheered her on as she danced.
This is just what I needed to unwind, thought Yolanda. The story on the Culture Club wore me out. I mean, I thought I wore a lot of makeup, but Boy George made me look like a librarian!
A staffer approached and said, “Ms. Montez? Your car alarm seems to have gone off.”
She frowned and climbed off the counter. “Sorry, boys, little Yolanda has to take care of business,” she said.
She checked on her sports car and frowned. Some drunk had passed too close and obviously set off the alarm. She clicked the alarm and turned to go back to the club.
A rope dropped and whipped around her ankles, and she fell flat on her face before she was dragged upward to the roof.
“We need to talk,” said a grim Huntress as she reeled in the startled beauty.
Yolanda sliced through the rope with her nails and said, “You’ve gone loco. You could have killed me!”
“What?” remarked the Huntress. “A cat always lands on her feet! Or are you merely pretending to be worthy of the name?” She kicked Yolanda in the mouth, and the fight broke out.
Yolanda kicked off her heels and tackled the Huntress. They rolled around the roof in anger. The Huntress was by far the better fighter, yet she was angry and careless this night. Yolanda rolled into a ball and propelled herself into the Huntress. She grabbed her neck and flipped Helena to the roof. She straddled her and placed her nails across the woman’s face.
“I could scatch your eyes,” said the new Catwoman. “I could rip your throat. But I won’t, chica, since I want you to see that I am no killer. I’m not the bad girl you paint me to be. From the first day on, you’ve resented the fact that I filled the Catwoman costume better than you ever could. Ted Grant made me a winner.”
The Huntress struggled helplessly, then slipped a pellet from her belt and tossed it into Yolanda’s open mouth. She choked and fell off the Huntress.
The daughter of the original Catwoman jumped on her and knocked her cold with a hard right. “You may not kill, but you are going to jail,” she vowed.
The Huntress swung Yolanda over her shoulder and tied her tightly. She felt good, having avenged her mother’s honor. She prepared to carry her to the police when she spotted something. It was a TV in the shop across the street.
It was MTV, showing an interview with the Culture Club. The guest interviewer was Rolling Stone’s Yolanda Montez. The script running across the screen read taped yesterday in London.
“She couldn’t have been the Catwoman if she was out of the States yesterday!” gasped Huntress as cold reason displaced her blind fury.
Quickly, she untied Yolanda and left her on the roof of the club. She swung off into the night, sore, tired, and bitterly upset.
The next morning Helena was awakened by Alfred with his morning tray. “Good morning, Miss… my word!” he gasped.
Helena rose from the silk sheets wearing a skimpy black teddy. “What’s wrong? Oops!” She blushed as she grabbed a robe. “Sorry, Alfred. I don’t know why I tossed this on last night,” she said, blushing. “It was a gag gift from a wedding shower I attended. Stiff Helena Wayne in sexy lingerie was the joke.”
Alfred cleared his throat. “Indeed. Very droll. I fear the faux Catwoman struck again. She robbed the Merrill Music Factory, a record store.”
The Huntress shook out her long tresses and frowned. “I fought Yolanda early last night. I know that she is not the woman we’re after.” Tears formed in her eyes, and she said, “Alfred, I roughed her up badly. She didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t face her. I just fled.”
“It’s all right,” said Alfred. “Never fear.”
“This brings back memories,” she replied. “You were always there for me when I’d wake up at night with nightmares and my folks were at a charity ball or something.”
She sat down on the bed and said, “You know, I’ve been so tired lately. So many vivid bad dreams. The last one involved mother — not as the loving woman I knew — but as a laughing, sultry Catwoman who trapped me and pulled off her mask to reveal…” She stopped and shuddered.
“What, Miss? What did she reveal?” he asked softly.
“My face!” said Helena as the light of realization gleamed in her dark eyes.
In the Batcave, the Huntress and Alfred sat by a computer. She wore her Huntress costume, and she was deeply concerned.
“Alfred, the anger I felt and the tiredness blocked my thinking,” she said. “You were right all along. The Bat-computers show that the Merrill Music Factory used to be the site of a beauty parlor. One mother used as a front for a crime at one time.”
Alfred nodded. “And the Morris Jewelry store was once a domestic services employment place which, again, the late Miss Selina used as a front for a crime plan. That was where I first met her. I blush to say she posed as a blonde maid and charmed me terribly before Master Bruce figured out her scheme.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Duped Domestics,” Batman #22 (April-May, 1944).]
Helena smiled. “You spanked her over one knee. She laughed about it when I was younger. She said Dad had brought it about, and she was somewhat embarrassed that her arch-foe saw her humiliated by a normal, if brilliant man!”
Alfred nodded. “Imagine the way I felt when we later lived here together. I could not look her in the eyes until she set me straight. She was a fine woman.”
“So this Catwoman wannabe is hitting places once associated with or used by the first Catwoman,” she said. “She must know her history well.”
“Almost as if she was family,” said Alfred.