In a small retirement home in Bludhaven, the Huntress and Catwoman watched from the rooftop.
“So why do you think this Queen of Cats will show her skintight self here?” asked Yolanda Montez.
“Her father lives here… he’s dying,” explained Helena Wayne. “A trust fund pays for his care — it came from mother’s will.”
“Your mother? Is he some old gang member of hers?” said a puzzled Catwoman.
“Not quite. Now hush!” warned the Huntress.
They saw a sleek Jaguar pull up and a sultry blonde in a red minidress, fishnets, and heels climbed out with feline grace. She carried a package under one arm.
“That walk! That hair! Those nails! That’s the Cat Queen!” hissed Catwoman.
“I’m afraid so,” nodded the Huntress.
They waited until she entered the room of an old man who was feeble from illness more than from age.
“The game is up. You can surrender out here where Karl won’t see it,” offered the Huntress from the shadows outside the room’s window.
The blonde beauty shook her head. “Please let him have this! It will restore him!”
“It won’t cure his illness,” said the Huntress. “It will only prolong his agony. Didn’t you see how sick Blake was? The cloak keeps the user alive, but it could not cure Blake, nor can it save Uncle Karl.”
The blonde saw her father lying there still and in a coma. She turned and kissed him before walking toward the window. One agile spin brought her to the earth below.
“You deduced who I was, huh, Cuz?” she said with a sneer.
“Yes. I knew Mother’s will provided for her brother Karl Kyle’s care,” said the Huntress. “He had been ill for years. It came from the hard life he led as a crook and as the costumed King of the Cats.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The King of the Cats,” Batman #69 (February-March, 1952).]
“The cloak could save him, or so I thought; I didn’t think it would just prolong his pain,” said the blonde, whose name was Michelle Kyle. “He told me that his sister was Catwoman. He told me she married Wayne, and to him it was obvious based on her private confessions that she could never love any man except Batman. He figured out who Batman was. He raised me knowing that my aunt and uncle were Catwoman and Batman. He never wanted her to reform. It hurt him. That’s why you never knew I existed.”
“I learned about Karl’s health from a check of the Wayne estate papers,” said the Huntress. “I’m ashamed to say I never tried to visit him before, nor did I know he had a daughter who so wanted to cure him.”
“I vowed to get that cloak, which I learned about from reading every cat-related story I could find. I hoped to save him. I have the right moves to have claimed it myself from Blake’s defended estate, but my partner showed me how much fun it would be to first dirty Catwoman’s image again and then turn the golden girl heiress into her mother’s criminal double!” She laughed bitterly.
“Partner?” gasped the Huntress. “I thought such total personality alteration was beyond any daughter of the Cat King. You’re tough, agile, and fast, but you aren’t an inventor!”
Michelle Kyle grinned wickedly. “See you in your dreams!” she called as she flung herself into the Sprang River, which passed behind the nursing home. As the two heroines tried to spot her, her lithe form vanished in the rapidly moving current.
“She got away! Or did she kill herself out of sorrow over not being able to save Karl?” asked Yolanda.
“She was holding the cloak when she jumped,” said Helena. “I’d bet she is still alive and will be back.”
That night, as Helena rose from her bed and reached for the hidden closet that hid her Catwoman outfit, a young man stepped between her and the door.
“Helena, stop!” he said softly.
She woke up and said, “Dick! Thank goodness you got back. I was trying to fight the conditioning, but I see I failed.”
Dick Grayson hugged her. “I learned it all from McNider,” he explained. “He signaled me with his JSA device. He also told me about Alfred and your comment to Yolanda. Never try to whisper around a guy with hearing as keen as his! I just left Alfred’s room, by the way. He’s fine.”
“Dick, the Cat Queen — Michelle Kyle, my cousin — did something to me that makes me dress like mother after I go to sleep,” she said.
“You weren’t asleep, just sort of entranced,” said the man who was Red Robin. “Remember, you fought, talked, and even displayed a real sultry, cat-like personality while under the spell. You were no zombie-like sleepwalker. That’s why I wasn’t afraid to try to wake you.”
Helena nodded. “How can we cure me?”
“I know how,” said Dick. “I learned hypnosis techniques from Professor Nichols as a teen.”
The next few hours saw the restoration of Helena Wayne in mind, body, and emotion. Dick cured her of the suggestions that had been so deeply planted in her sleeping or dozing mind.
“It was not a sleeping state, but it was triggered by your going to sleep,” he said. “That was a catalyst — excuse the expression. Someone with a genius-level mind did this to you. He or she learned who you were from Michelle and used that knowlege to invade your mind and sap your will from the second you began to sleep.”
“Who could control the dreaming mind so easily?” asked the Huntress. “Alfred said I was even walking like mother.”
“Let me do some checking,” said Red Robin. “To the Batcave!”
In the Batcave a few minutes later, Red Robin pulled out a computer printout. “Our old enemy Hugo Strange could possibly have done this, but he is dead, according to his imprisoned daughter, Lady Bane,” he said.
The Huntress nodded. “Professor Jonathan Crane played mind games, too, but no real phobia was ever induced in me. If it was him, he’d have made me afraid of cats or something!”
“Same goes for Professor Milo — remember how he once made Bruce fear bats?” added Red Robin. “You’ve seen the Starman costume he wore during that case.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Man Who Ended Batman’s Career,” Detective Comics #247 (September, 1957).]
Then the Huntress said, “He or she did this to me from afar. Could we trace some kind of radiation or transmitted signal?”
Red Robin smiled. “Great idea, but no luck. We don’t happen to have a Bat-brainwave-detection device! How Kara would get a kick out of that! You know how she always teases me about my Bat-this and Bat-that!”
“Well, just call her Barbie,” said Helena. “I’d love to have seen her dolled up by Punch!”
“Punch has a broken jaw now,” said Dick dryly.
“Being made extra feminine or helpless is always a nightmare for our Kara,” said the Huntress.
Red Robin jumped to his feet. “That’s it! I have an idea. Do the words Nightmare Hour mean anything to you?”
He explained his plan as they headed for the car.
Red Robin carefully lowered the Huntress down the side of an old radio station outside Gotham City. She planted a device against a wall and gave a thumbs-up gesture.
He swung down alongside of her and listened. “Voices — one female and one male. I’d say this supposedly empty old station is home to our Queen of Cats and her sick partner, just as I figured,” he said.
“Let me handle them both,” said the Huntress. “I owe them. You play backup.”
Red Robin hesitated. “Gosh, I don’t know. You’ve had a rough time.”
“I need to do this alone,” said the Huntress. “I need to prove that I’m still Batman’s daughter, not some mental case pawn.”
Red Robin understood the need to live up to the legend, so he agreed. “Just say the name, and I’ll crash on inside,” he added.
The Huntress dropped inside and faced a wall of weird machinery and two figures. One was the sultry blonde Michelle Kyle, the Queen of Cats. She still wore the skintight, sleek black cat suit and heels, but she had added the cloak from Tom Blake’s old costume.
She reacted to the slight sound of the Huntress hitting the floor. She kicked her in the head and punched her in the throat. “Sorry, Cuz, but this time, the best woman is going to win!” she said.
“I’ve no doubt of that!” replied the Huntress as she caught her cousin’s leg and shoved upward.
The Cat Queen spun in midair and landed on all fours. She purred and swung her cat o’ nine tails at the Huntress. “Dance for me!” she sneered.
The Huntress did dance as she darted upward and executed a perfect triple flip to land on her foe. “And they say blondes have more fun,” she quipped.
The Queen of Cats grunted and tossed her female foe into a wall. “We do!” she cooed and ran for the rear.
The second figure was a deformed man in a black cloak and business suit. His cloak ended in a hood that framed a distorted face out of a nightmare. “At last we meet, after sharing our nights for so long,” he said.
“Doctor Dreemo, I presume,” she said.
“Yes. The name is, of course, merely a stage name, like the one my late father used when he hosted the dream interpretation radio show Nightmare Hour back in the 1940s,” croaked the malformed man.
“My father brought him to justice after he realized Doctor Dreemo was using his image and show to con people out of their secrets for blackmail and extortion,” she said, walking toward him. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crimes Goes to College,” World’s Finest Comics #17 (Spring, 1945).]
“We would all pay to preserve the stuff that dreams are made of, or to avoid that which forms our innermost nightmares,” he said.
“The Queen of Cats told you who I was, and you used these machines of yours to go one step beyond anything your father ever dared do,” she said. “You invaded my mind and conditioned me to become a version of Catwoman.”
Doctor Dreemo nodded. “Yes. It was a test of my talents and a joy for little Michelle to see her cousin turn into a villainess! Purr for me, kitty!” he chortled in a sick manner.
The Huntress heard the approach of feet and whirled to fire her drawn crossbow. She struck the lithe form of the Cat Queen, who gasped and crashed to the ground.
“You’ve shot me!” she hissed.
“You’re next!” said a grim Huntress as Doctor Dreemo cowered near his machine.
“I can’t fight. I’m weak — ill. The effects of being born in the zone of nightmares!” he pleaded. He hit a switch and said, “You will become what you fear the most!”
“Dream on!” said the Huntress, gripping his cloak and drawing him closer. One raised fist led him to faint. “Some tough guy,” she scoffed and dropped him to the floor.
Red Robin swung inside. “Well done!”
She switched down the lever the mad Dreemo had pushed and smiled. “Thank you.”
Red Robin lifted up the prone form of Doctor Dreemo. “I knew the station where his beloved father put on the old show would be a perfect hiding place,” he said. “I assumed the son was taking over for his dead parent.”
“True, but like he said, he did far more than his con-man father ever did,” said the Huntress. “He literally reprogrammed my mind from afar, like someone programming a computer with a remote.”
“He knows our secrets, as does Michelle,” noted Red Robin.
The Huntress shrugged and looked at Dreemo. “Superman’s memory device can fix that. As for Michelle, she has never revealed all she knew, so far…”
She raced across the room to retrieve a crossbow bolt. “She’s gone, and there is no blood. Maybe that weird cloak works for her after all!” she cried. “She’ll head for the nursing home!”
“No, she won’t,” said Red Robin. “Karl died a few hours ago. I learned that while you were inside. The staff said she had already called in and learned that, too.”
“Then she has lost her father,” said the Huntress sadly. “Maybe… she’ll just leave the city and grieve for my uncle.”
“I’d like to believe that, but I doubt it,” he said. “I think sooner or later the Queen of Cats will strike again.”
The Huntress nodded. “At least I feel cleared of my own wrongful acts, and we can vouch for Yolanda with the police.”
Red Robin agreed, and they walked out to turn in Doctor Dreemo.