Wesley Dodds returned home after a hard day at the gym to be greeted by no one. Sandy Hawkins was not at home, and Dian Belmont was no longer around. Wes was a bit sorry to receive no welcome from either of his little extended family. He settled down in his armchair by the fire, only to smell a perfume. Glancing up, he saw a woman drop down from above. She wore an animal-print costume, complete with a tail. She was lovely, yet clearly predatory.
“Welcome home, Sandman. I am the Cheetah!” she purred as she walked in her sultry manner around him. “You shall have cause to remember that name long after this night. The memory’s nature will depend entirely upon your actions. If you displease me, then you will look back on this night in sorrow as the night you lost the two you love the most!”
“I’ve heard of you from Wonder Woman! What right do you have to barge in here? And how do you know my secret?” he asked, sensing it was futile to bluff about the secret. If she had been here long, she had likely already seen his laboratory and his equipment.
The Cheetah laughed a deep, throaty laugh that was still oddly girlish. He noticed that she was also very young. “The association you have with Wonder Woman is the cause of my visit. You see, I have agreed to deal with you for someone else who promises to help me gain my revenge upon the Amazon in turn. (*) You will regret nothing if you obey me.” She raised her red nails and said, “It’s an arrangement of the type that is often described as being ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll not rip out Dian Belmont’s throat’!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Acts of Vengeance.]
Wes tensed. “You have Dian? And Sandy, too? If you hurt them, I’ll hunt you down and leave you in front of the fireplace like the animal you dress in imitation of in that costume!”
The Cheetah smiled, and a cold look came into her green eyes. “Enough threats. I traced you through the designer of the handmade suits you used to wear as the Sandman. A rich man’s indulgence to fight evil in designer wear!”
Wes nodded slowly. He had long been scolded by Dian about the waste of wearing such costly clothes to fight crime. Now his own wealth had betrayed him. Wealth made him scan her face anew. She, too, was obviously wealthy. In fact, she looked like someone from the society papers. But who?
“You bring me a certain chemical being tested in a government lab according to my sources, and I’ll tell you where your friends are,” said the Cheetah. “Fail me, and I’ll show you their graves!”
The Sandman made his move, but he was rattled by having an enemy here in his home, and he could not help but feel overwhelmed by worry about his family. He jumped for the blonde in the tight costume and fell down hard as she lithely dodged aside.
“The labs of Bannermain Chemicals are where the nerve gas is being developed under government contract. Bring back the gas described in that paper on the table by midnight, or I’ll be a very angry kitty, indeed. Bye-bye!” she trilled as she leaped out his window and disappeared into the night.
Wesley Dodds rose and cursed himself for carelessness. “Dian, Sandy — hold on! I’ll save you or die trying!” he vowed.
He returned to his home hours later after a weary and worrisome vigil, now carrying a container with extreme care. He had been at a desperate meeting with an ally, and he hoped what he carried would turn the tide in his favor. He entered and faced the sultry she-cat called the Cheetah.
“Well done! You brought the neuro-toxin!” she cooed. “I’ll reward you as well. Here is a lock of Dian’s hair. It proves that she is still, or was still alive when I took it!”
“Here is the toxin,” he said. “Now where are they? You promised!”
The Cheetah raked her nails against the canister and hurled it to the ground. “I know you never reached Bannermain. I was there ahead of you, waiting!” she hissed.
“If you were there, then you don’t know two things: One: Sandy and Dian were freed while you waited at the company. They were freed from the rented home of Priscilla Rich, your other identity! The toxin you wanted was just a ruse, anyway. It was always part of a cat-and-mouse game of the kind you delight in! You wanted to see if you could turn me traitor by using fear and worry to haunt me! Then you planned to ambush me for your boss. Whoever he is, I’ve learned that he also has Superman and the Flash, among others. I’ll save them after I deal with you!” And he rushed her.
But the Cheetah kicked him in the face and rolled to freedom. “I am not Priscilla Rich! I hate that weak, pale milksop!” Her fury grew by the minute, as he hoped it would. After picking up his ally, the Sandman had stopped by the Perisphere to check on the Justice Society’s files, and her profile there indicated that she was mentally ill and did not realize that Priscilla was her true name and life.
As he drew his gun, she actually smirked. “Fire it!” she hissed. “Your gas has no effect upon me. I took pains to make myself immune!”
But as he fired, he watched her face change color as a red mist filled the air and left her blinded, not knocked out. “That’s not your sleep gas!” she choked.
A figure in green dropped through the skylight and struck her over the head. She fell dazed and sat staring up at two Sandmen, one in the classic green suit and one in the current purple and gold.
They bound her quickly, and the man in purple said, “I said there were two things you didn’t know, Prissy. The second thing is that I am not the Sandman!”
The Cheetah remained oddly calm as they turned her in to the authorities.
Dian Belmont and Sandy Hawkins rushed into the room to greet them when they returned. Embraces and handshakes followed as the group enjoyed the moment.
The true Sandman removed his gas mask and took off the green-suited costume he had taken from the JSA Headquarters at the Perisphere, where he had read of Cheetah’s true identity and had tracked down the address of her home where Dian and Sandy were being held.
His friend removed the purple and gold hood to reveal the features of Lee Travis, the Crimson Avenger. “Using my red mist in your gas-gun and switching suits did the trick on her!” he said.
Sandy smiled and said, “Yes, and our buddies are free now, too. I just heard from the JSA!”
The Sandman had changed his costume and had given his current yellow and purple one to the Crimson Avenger, who had switched out the chemicals used in the gas-gun. Lee Travis had originally helped Wesley Dodds develop the original ideas for both the gas-gun and the wirepoon and had readily agreed to the plan. He was the oldest friend Wes had. They both knew that the insane Cheetah would likely not recall the identity she had learned in her madness and split personality.
“Poor Prissy Rich,” said Dian. “Though I’m older than she is, I knew her from the debutante circle.”
“She is a dish, though a weird one,” added Sandy.
Wes nodded. “Tragic, yet brilliant, too. She devised this whole game for her own pleasure and planned to turn me in to this mastermind Kil-Lor, who had sent her for me while sending others after our JSA buddies.”
Sandy nodded. “Yeah! The Flash said they beat them, but it was a close call.”
“I’m glad the JSA is OK,” said Lee. “Now, how about we talk about a few more ideas for crime-fighting tools I had in mind?”
“Sure,” chimed in Sandy, “but I don’t want to catch Wing wearing my costume, OK?”
They laughed and entered Wesley’s laboratory.