In a large laboratory outside of Metropolis, a woman with fiery red hair frowned in consternation as she tried to concentrate in spite of the incessant noise that filled her workspace. Alexis Luthor sighed and put down a small pad as she stood up and turned to glare at another extremely strangely costumed woman who lounged across a plush chair that was shaped like a huge clown’s head.
“You gotta love that Melvin and Locke! That little kid’s got the brain of a criminal genius!” said Harley Quinn in a shrill voice as she rattled a newspaper.
Alexis smiled sardonically and said, “That’s all you gain from a perusal of the Daily Star? One of the most respected papers in the nation, and all you find to stimulate your mind within its pages is a simple comic-book?”
Harley sat up abruptly and said, “It’s a comic-strip! Or would that be peeling the costume and skin right offa Power Girl?” She ran a gloved hand through her wild mane of green hair and frowned with ruby red lips that seemed all the more garish in comparison with her chalk-white skin.
“What’s wrong, Lexie? You’ve been a grumpy Gertie all day! Not even picturing the girl of steel all bare and broken cheered you up!” asked Harley Quinn, the Joker’s daughter.
“Oh, I enjoy a good sight gag as much as the next person, but I fear your high spirits are distracting me from my work,” said Alexis Luthor, daughter of the famed Alexei Luthor. “Work which should help us achieve the demise of our foes in due time.”
“So you want me to be quiet?” asked Harley. “Is that it? I can take a hint!” She turned through the paper and whistled loudly until one story caught her eye. “Now this really puts a run in my stockings!” she shouted.
“What?” said Alexis. “Don’t tell me that that bizarre round-headed child finally kicked the football?”
“This is serious!” said Harley. “Lookit! They’re honoring some foreign do-gooder named Wingman! See? He’s getting some medal from his government in Sweden!”
Alexis looked at the story and accompanying picture and said, “What is so terrible about that? Heroes do absurd things, and the public rewards them with acclaim. Besides, why should you care about Sweden? I can’t imagine you had any hidden ties to that nation! Can you even find it on a map?”
“Stop kidding, Lexie,” said Harley. “Wingman is not just some costumed goon with an accent. He or his Daddy or Grandpa or Great-Uncle Sven started the role of hero long ago because he was inspired and trained by Batman! (*) Every time Wingman does something all noble and bright and shiny, it’s like Batman was doing it!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “A Partner for Batman,” Batman #65 (June-July, 1951).]
Alexis Luthor curled her lip in amusement. “I agree, but you must know Batman’s legacy doesn’t end there. He inspired the heroes collectively known as the Batmen of All Nations by his crusading example. (*) I believe they banded together as the Club of Heroes or something along those lines.” (*)
[(*) 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 Batmen of All Nations,” Detective Comics #215 (January, 1955) and “The Club of Heroes,” World’s Finest Comics #89 (July-August, 1957).]
Harley scowled and began to nod slowly as her eyes grew brighter and more manic. “Saaay! That gives me an idea!” she said. “Since you are busy being girl genius, mad scientist babe, et cetera, I’ll keep out of your thinning hair by working on a little scheme to make my daddy proud!”
She spun around madly, and laughter filled the lab as Alexis scowled and tugged at her own hair in irritation. I’m surprised my father didn’t go bald from putting up with her kind, she thought.
In Gotham City a few months later, the Huntress swung agilely over the city streets before landing nimbly on the roof of Gotham City Police Headquarters, where a brilliant beacon aimed its unique glow skyward. The Bat-Signal offered almost the only light in a very dark and rainy night.
“Good evening, Sgt. Hainer!” said the purple-and-blue-clad beauty as she approached the familiar form of the operator of the Bat-Signal.
“Miss Huntress! Hello! This is not a fit night to drag you out of bed, but, well, you are needed once more,” said Sgt. Harvey Hainer Jr. with something of the same apologetic air his late father had displayed during years of summoning Helena Wayne’s own heroic parent, the Batman.
The Huntress placed one gloved hand on his arm as she passed by him and headed downstairs to confer with Police Commissioner O’Hara. “Don’t worry, Sgt. Hainer. It’s my job to make nights like this one a bit safer for those unfortunate enough to be out in the elements.
She moved down the steps into the building she knew so very well. This place is almost like a second home to me, she thought. Dad spent so much time here, either professionally or socially, I grew up here. Even before he became commissioner, he was often visiting James Gordon.
“Lass, you’re a welcome sight for a weary eye this night!” bellowed Commissioner Clancy O’Hara as he ushered her into his office.
“I see you’re not alone, sir,” she said as she noticed a figure standing in the shadows.
“You’ve got a keen eye! I’d expect nothing less from the celebrated Huntress!” said the shadowy figure as he stepped into the light to reveal himself as a balding man in a slightly rumpled suit and overcoat.
“Well, the aroma of pipe tobacco was a giveaway, since Commissioner O’Hara, here, quit smoking years ago,” she said with a smile.
The British man nodded and said, “Anything else you’d like to tell us about me?”
She placed one hand on her hip and said, “The fact that you originally come from Manchester, England, but have lived in London is evident from your unique accent. The slight bulge in your vest pocket suggests that you are carrying a gun, and your association with the commissioner, here, leads me to believe that you are a police officer. Plus, the same tobacco I detected is an import from England. That pretty much leaves little room for doubt. You come from Scotland Yard.”
He nodded and said, “Well, the American girl makes the veteran cop feel like one of the coppers from the Sherlock Holmes tales! I am duly impressed!”
O’Hara smiled and said, “The Huntress has a mind like no other. She is her father’s daughter, for which I am very thankful!” He added, “Huntress, this gentleman is indeed from Scotland Yard. He is here to ask you to join him in the U.K. because of a rather unsettling series of crimes that have plagued his organization of late.”
“I’m Inspector Allingham. I do indeed come to you with figurative hat in hand,” he said. “We could use your help, because as strange as it sounds, London is apparently under siege by one of your odd American super-villains!”
The Huntress frowned and said, “Which one?”
Inspector Allingham frowned and said, “The Joker!”
Hours later, the Huntress piloted the sleek Batplane across the Atlantic Ocean toward the United Kingdom. She was an expert pilot, and so she could afford to divert some of her attention from the craft to her own thoughts.
Inspector Allingham’s claim that the Joker was loose in London doesn’t hold up, since I know for a fact that the clown prince of crime was worse off than before, when we last fought, she thought. (*) He still is in a deep coma, and his body is heavily guarded. However, his evil daughter is at large, and Harley Quinn is more than capable of pulling off any number of Joker-like crimes in her father’s evil name.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman Family: Who Laughs Last?]
As much as I pity any child who had to grow up with that kind of role model, I can’t help wanting to see Harley behind bars, thought the Huntress. She inherited every dangerous criminal tendency her father ever displayed. I’d even suspect that she is more deranged than he ever was. For most of his career, he was never truly certifiably insane, while she certainly fits that description!
The Huntress frowned as she recalled the photos Inspector Allingham had showed her back in O’Hara’s office. The warmth of the comfortable setting had quickly become as chilly and grim as the night outside after the police detective had showed her several grisly scenes of victims united by one unmistakable feature. All three of the robbery victims wore ghastly rictus grins like the ones usually created by the Joker’s toxin. If it is Harley, then she’s definitely carrying on the family business!
She nodded to herself as the names of the crime scenes and or victims contributed to her certainty. The first victim was robbed of a rare first printing of the famous Victorian humor magazine, Punch. There were no witnesses, and he was found dead the next morning when his housekeeper came in to clean. Joker toxin was the cause of death.
The second victim and his wife were robbed of old recordings from a beloved radio show called The Loons. He was one of their early directors, and his copies were priceless to collectors or fans of that comedy team. Both of them died from Joker toxin.
The most recent victim is alive because a neighbor interrupted the robbery, and the thief escaped without getting a chance to kill anyone or claim his prize. In this case, the object he was after was a rare car used on a BBC show by a currently popular humorist named Mr. Legume.
The Huntress landed the Batplane as arranged with British authorities at Heathrow Airport and swiftly made her way to a townhouse in a posh district known as Golder’s Green.
“It’s beautiful here! I’m so sorry Dad’s not here,” she sighed. “The last time we were here was on his birthday. It was ten years ago.”
As Helena Wayne, she unlocked the house and closed the door behind her. She nodded in approval as she noticed how clean and orderly everything was inside the house. Alfred’s great-nephew Ronald does good work. I only had time to call him and ask him to clean the place less than a day ago! I suppose all the Beagle boys are equally efficient.
Helena pushed her long black hair away from her face and approached a wall panel. Ronny thinks this is nothing more than a typical security system for which he alone knows the proper access code. In reality, if the numbers 228626 are entered, an entirely new aspect of the house becomes apparent.
She smiled briefly after punching in the numbers, which would have spelled Batman on an American rotary phone. The paneled wall slid backward to reveal a small doorway.
Helena rushed down the steps beyond the door to emerge below street level in a small chamber in which a computer rested near a lab and a few other curious devices. A motorcycle also occupied the room. Well, the U.K. Batcave is not as spacious as the original back home, but it will do, she thought.
She quickly typed in a computer and scanned stories from U.K. papers. “Ah-ha, as the wise man said! I believe this girl will be spending the evening staking out one very likely target of our faux Joker.”
Soon, the Huntress sat perched on a narrow ledge high above one level of the British Museum. What an amazing place, she thought. I know it was founded in 1753, and among other priceless collections it contains King George III’s private library. For a place that receives over five million visitors a year, one very unwelcome thief could damage the collected heritage of a proud nation unless I stop her or him.
Hours passed, and then her keen senses detected the sounds of furtive figures approaching. I already noted the scheduled movements of the staff guards, she thought. These newcomers are clearly not part of the staff.
She looked down through special contacts that turned the darkness into daylight, and she saw two extremely colorful figures enter from a left wing of the building.
“You certainly shut down the security system with ease, my pet!” said a man dressed in a red and green outfit, slippers, and a belled hood.
“It was nothing in comparison with how you dealt with the undesired attentions of the guards,” said his female companion. “But why did you not kill them? I love seeing those delightfully cheeky grins when they die!” She wore a similar costume, except her outfit consisted entirely of shocking pink tights and a flared multi-colored tunic. Her brown hair was braided with long red and blue bands, which were studded with small bells as well.
“Motley, I don’t kill for pleasure. I kill as part of a larger aesthetic pattern. Mass-murder of hired lackeys is not artistic!”
Motley giggled behind one gloved hand and rolled her heavily painted eyes as if in mock boredom. “Yes, master,” she said in a monotone voice.
“Enough mockery, my sweet buffoon!” said the man. “We need to take the Grimaldi manuscript and be on our merry way!”
Motley choked back a giggle and said, “Yes, Jester! I’m sorry! Can’t blame a gal for bein’ a might high-spirited, now, can you?”
The Jester flashed an impish grin and said, “‘Course not, pet. Otherwise, I’d be bussing Maggie Thatcher herself!”
The Huntress dropped down from above and landed perfectly. “Put your hands up now! Don’t move!” she said in a grim tone.
“Now which is it? Do you want us to raise our hands or to stay still? Women today are sooo indecisive!” said the Jester.
“I don’t agree, or do I?” laughed Motley. She rolled forward as if to fall flat on her face and then wrapped herself tightly in a ball and rolled into the Huntress with surprising speed and agility.
The Huntress tripped over her and barely managed to avoid falling herself, when she heard the bells from the Jester’s costume ring out as he leaped at her. She ducked and allowed him to sail over her head. She then spun around and connected with a high kick that knocked him off-balance.
Before she could face the woman called Motley, the Huntress heard her coming and hurled a pellet in her direction. As the smoke pellet enveloped the colorful female acrobat, she crashed into the Huntress and pulled her cape with a sudden jerk that ripped it from her shoulders.
The Huntress elbowed her in the face and drew the cape down until it covered her head and arms. She slammed her head into a wall and then dodged another attack from the Jester. They must be using nose plugs, she thought. The smoke didn’t slow them down at all!
The Jester lashed out at her with a belt he had removed from beneath his tunic. The Huntress cried out as it sliced across her hip and left a bloody gash. Razor sharp — he means business! she mused. Then again, so do I!
The Huntress moved into the path of the whirling lash and caught it with one hand. She ripped it out of Jester’s grip and punched him in the nose three times. As he fell, she whirled around and saw the cape-covered form of Motley struggling to rise.
Approaching the woman, the Huntress raised one fist, when the entire object exploded in her face, and she fell backward from the impact. Stun grenade of some kind! She tricked me! she thought.
She heard wild laughter and looked up to see the Joker’s daughter sitting on a display case above the landing. She wore a purple suit, and her green hair was swept upward wildly.
Harley’s changed her look! She’s a female version of the Joker in costume and in manner, mused the Huntress as she reached for her crossbow.
“Don’t kill her!” Harley Quinn screeched. “It’s too early in the game! We want her to live so she can see Daddy’s influence!”
“Cor!” said Motley. “You and your rules!”
“Don’t mess with me, sister!” warned Harley.
“Does that injunction apply to us?” said a newcomer as two costumed men entered the area. The two men were dressed in matching suits of armor, and both wore beards with thick mustaches.
“The Knight and the Squire!” cried the Huntress as she recognized England’s famous crime-fighters. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Batman of England,” Batman #62 (December, 1950-January, 1951).]