The Huntress crossed her legs and listened intently as Hourman read from a sheet of paper.
“The drug within the mascara is a form of highly addictive adrenal stimulant not all that different in effect from my old Miraclo drug,” he said. “It goes right through the pores, and the woman was hooked after one use. The duration of the enhanced physical abilities and altered personality is brief, but the craving is powerful. She is suffering withdrawal as we speak. I did what I could for her, along with Doctor Mid-Nite. I don’t know how she came to use this drug, or who made it, or why it was applied as mascara, but the victim obviously would have done anything to get more.”
The Huntress nodded. “Thanks, Hourman. I assumed as much from my initial analysis, but I wanted your expert confirmation.”
Hourman pounded the table. “It tears me up to see young lives in such jeopardy. I felt the need for the adrenal rush myself all too often when I was younger. This girl didn’t know what hit her. She was begging for the stuff even as we treated her. The maker of this drug is nefarious. He or she turned this heiress into their pawn.”
The Huntress nodded. “Bank records show she has been paying out large sums since last month. That’s likely when they hooked her. She actually is a good girl. I assume she was given this drug via the mascara, and unknowingly at that. Once she had it in her system, she gained the enhanced abilities and a raw urge for more. The maker turned her into the Tiger Moth and sent her out to rob in return for more of the drug.”
Hourman nodded. “Odd that a girl with her money would be sent out to rob when she was paying the crook as well.”
“I’ve figured the targets of the robberies were purposeful,” said the Huntress. “All were Wayne holdings, so this crook is out to get me or my family.”
“The Waynes attracted many enemies in spite of all the good your dad did,” said Hourman. “Jealousy, resentment, and revenge come all too easy to some minds.”
The Huntress nodded. “I’m going to follow Carolyn Collins. She was wearing the same pattern of eye makeup. I assume, as a wealthy girl, she is into the new style, and that makes her a possible victim.”
“True,” said Hourman. “My estimation is that Mid-Nite and I can cure the girls in time, but you’ll need to round them up and stop their source.”
The Huntress frowned. “I will. I promise you that!”
Later, the Huntress searched the diary/datebook of the sleeping Carolyn Collins after entering through an open upper-story window. The girl tossed and turned feverishly, and the Huntress could see the evident signs of addiction.
That type of carefully crafted eye makeup is only done by an expert, she mused. She had an appointment at the Cheshire Salon yesterday. That trendy beauty shop is all the rage among the debutantes. I’d wager Leonora visited the shop as well. That’s where they get this new cat’s eye look. That’s where the drug came from, too, I’d bet. I can even guess what feline femme fatale is behind it — the Queen of Cats, my cousin, Michelle Kyle! She’d target Wayne holdings to get at me. Plus, the debutantes are paying her a ton of money.
She departed from the sleeping girl’s room with a determined look on her face.
The next day, a trembling Carolyn Collins entered the Cheshire Salon, wearing a long black dress and boots. Her pale face was agitated, and her blonde hairdo was upswept in a bun.
“Please! I need another treatment,” she begged. “The makeup! I need refreshing!”
A powerful man smiled and said, “Of course, my dear. Come to the private rooms.” He was old and gray, yet had a certain vitality about him.
She followed him to a private room in back and admired the cat motif décor.
“Miss Collins, you need to pay us before you can have your eyes done again,” he said. “The cost of the second treatment is rather more expensive! Two-thousand dollars, to be exact. Plus, you could work it off.”
“What do you mean?” she said. “I can’t do hair or makeup. Why do I feel so strongly that I must have the makeup again? It’s all I think about!”
He grinned. “That is a story best told by my mistress, Miss Kyle!” He exited to bring his mysterious boss back.
Carolyn ripped off her wig and stripped to reveal the costume of the Huntress. She slipped the mask in place and stood ready.
She was greeted by a sultry blonde in a tight black leather costume and high-heeled boots. Her lips were bright red, and her eyes gleamed a natural and unaided green.
“My, look what the cat drug in — excuse the word drug,” she laughed.
“Michelle Kyle, I suspected your paws were in this,” said the Huntress. “You addict the girls and make them pay you for more, or rob Wayne holdings for spite! The costumes and names are just window dressing. They’re all debutantes turned addicts!”
The Queen of Cats purred seductively and raised one hand to display gleaming red nails. “I prefer to think I’m taking them away from the country clubs… giving them useful work!” she laughed.
“You’re sick!” said the Huntress. “Cousin or not, I’m taking you down!” She charged forward, only to be struck from behind. She fell forward, and the Queen of Cats raked her cheek with her drugged nails.
“Time for a cat nap, cuz!” she purred. “Oh, and time for a makeover!” she laughed coldly.
The Huntress awoke to find herself tied to a chair. Her crossbow and belt were gone, and her mask was on the floor. Her head reeled from the drug, and she fought to focus.
She saw the Cat Queen reclining on a divan and admiring a jade necklace that she batted at idly with one hand. She rolled over and looked at the Huntress, eyes gleaming and a wicked smile on her lovely face.
“You know, your late mother, my Auntie Selina, ran a beauty shop as a front for her crimes once, too,” she said. “Its runs in the family, don’t you know?”
“You defame her name with your every act!” said the Huntress. “You’re like her brother, your late father Karl — all bad!”
The Queen of Cats stood up and approached the Huntress. “He died feeling betrayed by his sister.” She gripped the Huntress by her chin and leaned closer. “The clues were all there. The Gotham Gazette robbery featured a rigged bulldozer, or a Cat as that brand is called. The refinery was a cat plant, as it’s called in slang.”
“And the High Rollers Club — your take could be called the kitty,” said the Huntress as she worked to free her hands.
“See? Uncle Bruce taught you something,” sneered the Queen of Cats. “Dear Cosmo Kosmet made the addictive, enhancing mascara, and we called it the cat’s eye look for obvious reasons,” she said as she led the old man back inside.
Kosmet grinned and eyed the sultry Michelle Kyle eagerly. “I was as famous as the Westmores until Wonder Woman stopped me from killing some of my rivals in the studio makeup industry,” he said. “After surviving an almost-certain death, I rotted in jail for nearly forty years! ‘Cosmetic’ Kosmet — that’s what I was called! (*) Yes, I was!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Color Thief,” Wonder Woman #22 (March-April, 1947).]
“And you proved the right to that name with this little creation I’m about to have you put on Huntress, here,” said the Queen of Cats, smiling.
Kosmet drew closer to the bound and unmasked Huntress. “Pretty!” he said. “Nice cheek bones. I could do a lot with this one.”
“Just give her the cat’s eye treatment, honey,” said the slinky Cat Queen.
As the old man applied the green mascara to the helpless Helena Wayne, she tensed and then remained still.
“Purrrfect!” cooed Michelle Kyle as she admired the finished product. “Of course, you can’t make a silky cat out of bat’s ear!” she laughed.
The Huntress struck with sudden fury. Her hands had become free minutes ago, and she faked the listlessness after the drug had been applied. She belted Michelle in the chin, but the agile woman in skintight black rolled over to land crouched on her heels. She hissed and shoved the old man into the Huntress.
Planting her heels firmly, she dropped the evil Kosmet with a swift right. She eased him to the floor and jumped forward.
“We developed an antidote, and I used it on the real Carolyn this morning and on poor Lenora,” said the Huntress. “Oh, and in case your chin didn’t tip you off, I took it, too, before coming here,” she said as she threw herself down to avoid a high kick from the agile Cat Queen.
“You were always clever. Men hate clever!” the Queen of Cats sneered as she turned to hurl a bottle at the Huntress.
The Huntress ducked as it shattered above her and poured dye across her costume. “If that stains, I’ll take it out of your prison pay!” she joked.
The Queen of Cats smiled and jumped high to dodge her cousin’s lunge. “Too slow, dear. Maybe you should lay off the bat-cookies! Those hips are getting chunky!” she said, pulling the Huntress’ cape over her head and slamming her to the ground.
The Huntress rolled aside and rose again. She hurled a batarang, which caught her smirking foe in the hand.
“You broke a nail! I should kill you for that. Oh, well, time for that later. This pretty kitty’s going to leave. Oh, ladies!” called Michelle.
The Silk Spider and the woman from the Bulldozer fight rushed in, eyes gleaming from the drug.
“Be dears and kill her for me, won’t you? Ta!” said the Queen of Cats as she raced off.
The Huntress faced the two drug-enhanced woman and knew she was in for a fight. She figured her best plan was one her famous father had used so often. She relied upon brains and not brawn.
Waiting for their attacks, she then sprang clear so they crashed into one another. She slipped on her rebreather and dropped gas pellets. The vapor filled the shop, and the two women began to cough.
Using the sound to guide her, she dropped smoke pellets as well and kicked hard toward the sound of coughing. She connected and spun to hit them again and brought their heads together with a resounding crash.
They connected with her, too, but blinded and disoriented, they could inflict little damage to the darting darknight darling.
The Huntress swung upward and pulled on the lights above. A dash of bat-acid, and they pulled free to pin the two drug-addled heiresses to the ground. She was on them like the Flash and injected the antidote in their arms. She sighed with relief and called the authorities.
Superman’s memory-reducer will take away their knowledge that I’m Helena Wayne, she mused. As for Michelle, my wily cousin will turn up again after leaving Gotham City. It’s her normal pattern. I’m sure of that.
The Huntress glanced up at her reflection in the mirror and grinned. “You know, that mad Kosmet is good at what he does! I don’t look half bad, at that!” she laughed.