But even as Catwoman and Wildcat exchanged congratulations, the slinky and deadly Deathknell struck again elsewhere.
“My song of death removed Johnny Bravo, who dared drop me from his tour,” she said, stepping over a body wearing an orange-fringed jumpsuit. “He had such nerve thinking I wasn’t opening-act material! The vain creep!”
She crumpled into a ball the issue of Rock Star she held in her hands. “Next, Miss Yolanda Montez will pay for giving my concert a scathing review in her little column,” vowed the woman in the robe and jumpsuit. She shook her raven-trussed head and stalked out toward her final victim.
That night in the Montez home, Yolanda Montez stretched, trying to ease her sore muscles. She frowned as her brother gave a token knock before rushing inside her bedroom.
“Yolanda, could you get me a ride in the Star-Rocket Racer?” he asked. “And could you introduce me to Jade? She is so rad!”
Yolanda smiled. They had been through several talks about her career as the new Catwoman already. She ruffled his hair and said, “Jade is too old for you. Besides, you’re too green for her!”
“Very funny,” he said.
She watched him leave, and she yelled, “The Racer is something I’ll work on, OK?”
“Cool!” he said.
She reclined and thought about how to find Maty. Her options were few.
Yolanda knew that the police had had no luck in tracing the missing Maty Lopez, either. She considered calling in Wildcat but hated to seem dependent upon him. Thus, she searched Maty’s office in hopes of finding some clue that might explain why she had been kidnapped.
Sitting on the top of Maty’s desk, she flipped through files, but nothing came up except typical work-related material. Nothing in it suggested a dangerous involvement with anything that could have motivated an abduction.
She idly tugged on her feathered earrings and frowned. Maty disliked me, she mused. She had a thing for Rick. I mean, she dislikes me and has a thing for Rick. I can’t go around declaring her dead. I want to think that I can find her and solve this whole puzzle. Got to preserve my identity, too. Of course, I could go back to wearing the female Wildcat costume I used during Crisis. Uncle Ted would not mind.
Then a tall woman entered unannounced, wearing a green robe over a green and gold jumpsuit. Yolanda knew her from a story she had done a while back. “Bridget O’Maura!” she began. “If you’re here for an interview…”
“I’m here about an obituary, you witch — yours!” said the dark-haired beauty.
“I wrote my opinion, nothing more or less,” explained Yolanda as she uncrossed her red-tight-covered legs and stood up. “Nothing personal.”
“Die!” screamed O’Maura, the villainess called Deathknell. She opened her mouth, and Yolanda belted her across the room.
Those music industry deaths I’ve been hearing about from Meg must be her doing! she mused as she tackled the Irish woman, choking her. She acted like her voice could hurt me… more than her bad singing, I mean.
She pressed hard on the woman’s throat, then yelped as she herself was knocked off. She rolled backward and crouched on her hands and knees.
Deathknell gasped for breath and sang. And Yolanda lost all sense of place and time, then fell forward in a swoon.
Carlos, Maria, and Jose Montez were relieved three days later when Yolanda came out of her coma.
“Baby! You don’t know what a scare you gave us!” cried Maria.
“What happened?” muttered Yolanda. “I fought a woman… Bridget O’Maura, in fact, in my office. She had some type of sonic spell.”
“She left you for dead in a coma,” said Jose. “You been out for days!”
Yolanda groaned, “Is my secret out? Is the cat out of the bag, so to speak?”
“No,” said Maria. “She wanted to kill everyone who had given her bad reviews or damaged her singing career. You are just another victim.”
“You had a famous visitor,” said Carlos, “Dr. McNider! He said your whole nervous system had been attacked. Trauma, he called it.”
Yolanda sat up. “I hit her in the throat before she sang. I guess that weakened her death song. I’m lucky to be alive.”
“The Wildcat says he tracked this O’Maura, or Deathknell, as she calls herself on stage, to Ireland,” said Carlos. “She fled the country thinking she had killed all her enemies. He says he lost her trail after that.”
“Sheesh!” said Yolanda. “I would be the first critic to attract a super-villain singer by a bad review!”
“You could take her!” said Jose confidently. “Her old man fought Doctor Mid-Nite. He’s the Baleful Banshee!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Case of the Baleful Banshee,” All-American Comics #65 (April, 1945).]
“You just love this mystery-man stuff, don’t you?” said Yolanda.
“I don’t!” said Maria. “That girl from your magazine is still missing, too. Her mother has been on the news asking for help from any witnesses!”
“I’m getting out of here,” said Yolanda. “I may be Maty’s last hope. Plus, tonight is my premiere!”
A laugh from Jose left her blushing as Yolanda stood up and hastily closed the back of her hospital gown. “Even a Catwoman’s dignity can be hurt,” she said, shrugging.
The Black Widow watched with pleasure as Dr. Eric Barrok completed his final series of tests on a captive Maty Lopez. The girl had been subjected to injections, potions, and genetic mutation for days now.
Dr. Barrok was a genius in the type of bizarre science popularized as pseudo-science in fiction by H.G. Wells in The Island of Dr. Moreau. He also could turn men into beasts and vice versa. Meanwhile, the Black Widow — alias Princess Helene of Crete — could transform people into animals via a potion she claimed came down to her from Circe of myth. Now the two had combined their talents to create the savage Mastiff, amongst other animal-men.
They sought Catwoman because of a desire to see how their process could affect her feline skills. Having settled for Maty Lopez, they enjoyed every moment as the woman merged with a panther through the weird science.
When they finished, Maty Lopez was still a beautiful woman with reddish brown hair and a stunning figure, but she now had the perfect balance, night-vision, claws, agility, and stamina of a predatory feline. She also had a hatred for Yolanda Montez, because she blamed all of her troubles on her successful co-worker.
“She is magnificent!” said Barrok. “Better, perhaps, than the true Catwoman. She still refuses to reveal just which friend of hers is the feline femme fatale.”
“We no longer need a cat-woman,” said the Black Widow. “We just made our own. I suggest we contact Dr. Pym, the Insect Master, to see if his own experiment was a success. I did pay for it as well.”
Barrok seemed jealous. “Bah! That madman and his bugs! I can do more with animals than he could do with his ants and bees!”
Maty purred softly as she was released.
“Go! We have your genetic progression charted, so we have no need of you!” said the Widow.
Maty snarled and raced out the window, arching her back and landing perfectly below. Soon, she was back home and wearing a sultry yellow cat costume.
“Tonight you get yours, Montez!” she hissed as light reflected from her eyes and nails. “Tonight, you face La Garra!”
Yolanda Montez, wearing a sheer green dress to the premiere, enjoyed the attention of photographers and stars alike. Got to love this job! she thought. If this piece goes well, Rick is sure to OK my proposed plan to learn what happened to Jim Rock of the Electrics. That Eddie and the Cruisers film makes such a story a natural!
She heard a low growl and looked up. Perched high above the street on a flashing neon sign crouched the yellow-clad Maty Lopez.
“La Garra wants you, Montez!” she cried. “You robbed me of everything — my career, my man, my safety!”
Yolanda’s keen eyes detected the woman, and she recognized Maty’s voice. Oh, no! thought Yolanda. What is she doing? That skintight feline suit and those moves make her as much of a cat-woman as me!
She had completed her work, so she was able to slip off toward the shadows. But she was tackled from above the second she entered the alley behind the stadium. She fell hard and gasped as La Garra clawed her dress into shreds. “That was a loaner!” cried Yolanda as she struggled to get free. She elbowed Maty and said, “How did you get these powers?”
Maty laughed, “Hatred gave birth to them. Hatred of you!” She tore at Yolanda’s long hair and received a swift left hook.
They crouched and circled each other warily. Yolanda rolled under a parked car and kept spinning until she had separated herself from her mad foe. She reached her own car and threw on her own costume.
Just as she slipped on the hood, La Garra charged her on a loudly purring Catcycle. “Like it? My old bike altered by a special friend!” she hissed.
Now clad as Catwoman, Yolanda barely managed to leap out of the way as it tore toward her. She kicked out and missed her foe. I’m tired of fighting every cat-themed maniac around, she thought, from Queen of the Cats to Lionmane to this loco broad!
Catwoman spun around and delivered a kick that tripped La Garra, who slashed out at her with her claws. “Missed! Now that I know your powers, I’m ready for you! Why don’t you just calm down? Maty, I never meant to make you an enemy!” she pleaded.
Maty Lopez sneered at her. “You lie! You played up to Rick when I wanted him. You flirt with every man in the office!”
Yolanda jumped high to avoid her charge. “That’s your perception,” she said. “I’m just fun to be around!” She rolled into a ball and landed nearby.
Dodging another clawing, she caught La Garra’s arm. She twisted and sent the woman down to the ground in a wrestling hold taught her by Ted Grant. “Maty, I could break your arm. Don’t make me do it!” she said.
Maty screamed and twisted to bring her leg around in an amazing kick. Yolanda gasped and released her, only to tackle her again.
“This has to end!” said Catwoman. “I can get you help. You have not committed any real crime yet. I can forget this attack if you get help!”
La Garra laughed, “You are the one in need of help!” She raked her claws across Yolanda’s hood and gasped as she received a shock. She screamed and fell flat.
“I’m sorry, Maty. I rigged my costume’s interior. If it is torn, then the micro-wiring inside delivers a stunning shock. I got the idea after fighting Diamondback, but why am I telling you? You’re out cold!” She laughed at herself. “As for flirting, I owe this little trick to a male admirer of mine who is good with his hands.”
She frowned and said to herself, “If this was a comic-book, that shock would have robbed Maty of all memory of who I am. Bad enough the old Diamond King still knows my secret.”
While that was not the case, Maty Lopez did choose to keep Yolanda’s secret for her own reasons.
“When I get out of this psycho observation ward, I’ll kill Montez,” ranted Maty Lopez as she sat in her room. “Then I’ll be the head writer, I’ll get Rick Devon, and I’ll be in music videos!”
Elsewhere, the Black Widow and Dr. Eric Barrok watched a woman fly through rings and generate deadly, accurate energy-blasts from her hands. She did all this with a casual ease.
“Well done, Pamela!” said Dr. Pym, the Insect Master. “You’ve made your mother and I very proud!”
His wife, the Queen Bee, smiled warmly. “See, Dr. Barrok, Black Widow, by funding our work, you enabled us to turn our own daughter into a human/insect hybrid,” said Janet Pym.
“Excellent! A bee, a woman, amazing!” said Princess Helene.
“I prefer to just be called Wasp,” said the blonde woman as she landed.
“Took her nom du crime from an old foe of Wildcat’s,” explained Insect Master.
“Indeed! I may have her kill a cat for me if either Lopez or Catwoman cross our path,” said the Black Widow.