Birds of Prey: Capital Offense, Chapter 1: In Hot Pursuit

by Martin Maenza

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There was a squeal of tires as a jacked-up pickup turned the corner sharply. Two squad cars, red lights flashing and sirens blaring, were not too far behind it.

In the lead car, the partner of the driver was on the police radio. “Car 23 in pursuit,” the officer said into the handset. “Vehicle has just turned onto Dixon heading south. Requesting back-up.”

From the speaker came the voice of the dispatcher. “Stay on him. A roadblock is being set up.”

“Man,” said the officer driving. “That’s one souped-up monster truck!”

The partner reached for his gun. “Maybe I can blow out his tires.” He rolled down his window, trying to get a bead on the truck in front of them. Two shots rang out, both deflecting off the bumper and frame that supported the tires. “He’s moving too fast!”

And across the evening skyline, a dark-caped figure swung by on a thin line. A bat-like shadow crossed over the street and building tops as it went past.

Inside the vehicle being chased, a large, burly man with curly red hair laughed. On the seat next to him was a bag of jewels he had stolen from the diamond exchange ten minutes prior. He barely heard the shots of the policeman’s gun over the roar of his truck’s engines. “C’mon, coppers!” he said, glancing in the rear-view mirror. “Let’s see if you boys can keep up, shall we?”

He slammed the vehicle into third gear and pushed the gas pedal to the floor. The truck roared off doing ninety-five miles per hour. He looked back again in the mirror as the flashing red lights atop the cars became smaller and smaller. “Ha-ha-ha! So long, suckers!”

The truck barreled through a number of intersections and traffic signals. Luckily, at this hour, there were few cars on the road in this part of the city. That gave the thief clear sailing. “Just a bit more, and I can make the bridge out of town! Then the Gotham P.D. won’t be able to touch me!”

Suddenly, he noticed lights on the horizon in front of him — red flashing lights. Soon he could make out a number of police cars turned sideways across the road behind some wooden barriers. “A blockade?” the man said. “Oh, please! This baby’ll flatten them!” He laid on the horn, which blasted out a custom sound of La Cucaracha. Grabbing the wheel firmly with both hands, he smiled. “Better move, or you’ll be boys in black and blue! Ha-ha-ha!”

Behind the police line, the captain saw the approaching truck. “Hold fast, boys!” he barked. “When he gets in range, open fire!” They all cocked their guns, some automatic while others with heavier shotguns. “OK… now!

The shots rang out.

Behind the wheel, the truck driver scoffed. “So glad I sprang for the armor plating and steel-enforced treads,” he said. “Now, let’s see who’s gonna turn chicken first!” The truck charged ever closer.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a blue-caped figure swooped out of the sky right toward the truck.

The driver felt a great jolt, and the entire vehicle rocked from one side to another as it lifted into the air. “What the hell?!” the driver exclaimed. There was then a loud ripping sound as the engine block was torn from the frame. Panicking, the driver reached for the door to try to escape. He lunged out of the vehicle, expecting the normal ten-foot drop to the ground.

A hand reached out, grabbing him before he hit the ground. “Ah-ah-ah,” said a female voice. “You aren’t going anywhere, mister.”

The driver looked shocked at what he saw. His monster truck was being held in the air with one hand by a woman dressed in red tights with a blue mask, gloves, and boots. This red-haired woman held him by the front of his clothes with her other hand.

“Nice vehicle you have here,” the heroine said. “It might need some time in the shop, though. Something tells me it should be done by the time you get out of jail.” She put the vehicle down on the street, now that it no longer would run. She then dropped the man to the ground, where the police officers quickly swarmed around him.

The police captain approached the heroine. “Well, thank you,” he said. “We could have had a messy situation here without your help.”

“Glad I could help,” she said with a smile.

From a nearby rooftop, a figure appeared out of the shadows. It was another red-haired woman with a blue cape and cowl, dressed in gray tights with yellow boots and gloves. “Superwoman!” she shouted. “What brings you here?”

Done with the police, Superwoman flew up and joined the woman who had just called out to her. “Batwoman!” she said. “Good to see you.”

The dominoed dare-doll glanced down at the street where the police were finishing up. “Nice work on catching Brian ‘Big Wheel’ Wheeler,” she said. “That guy’s the biggest menace on four wheels. We’ve been tracking him for the last few days.”

“I guess I was just in the right place at the right time,” Superwoman said with a smile.

Batwoman nodded. “So, what brings you to Gotham City?”

“I was actually coming to see you.”

“Really? Why?” Batwoman asked.

Superwoman leaned up against the wall. “Well, I was kind of curious. I wanted to see if you were planning to go to the special ceremony in Washington, D.C., the day after tomorrow. You know, the one honoring the contributions of women in American history.”

Batwoman said, “As a matter of fact, I am. But how did you know about that, and why did you assume I’d be attending?”

“Well,” Superwoman said, “I noticed the story in the national news announcing it. That and knowing that, as Barbara Gordon, you served a term as your state’s congresswoman, I thought you’d probably be in attendance.”

Batwoman’s smile half-faded. She’d only worked with Superwoman once before a short while ago, when they’d first teamed up as the Birds of Prey. Barbara had been rather startled when she learned that this woman actually knew quite a bit about her own past. It turned out that Superwoman was actually from the far future, the year 2862, and was a historian that specialized in early American history covering the years of 1763 to 2100. (*) One of her specialty focuses was the costumed heroes of the twentieth century, most of whose secret identities had been derived by that juncture in time. To Kristin Wells, this wasn’t any big deal.

[(*) Editor’s note: Kristin Wells first appeared in Superman: Miracle Monday (1981) by Elliot S! Maggin.]

Kristin had come back to the twentieth century to research the mystery around one heroine whose identity had not been derived. It ended up that Kristin herself would take on the mantle of the very heroine she’d been researching — Superwoman. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Last Secret Identity,” DC Comics Presents Annual #2 (1983).]

Batwoman was still somewhat uncomfortable with this woman, even though Superman had readily accepted her as an ally and as a very close friend. But that had little to do with it. The truth was, Barbara had been very close to Kara Zor-El, the legendary heroine called Supergirl. The two had worked together many times over the years as a female version of the World’s Finest team. Barbara had also felt an incredible loss when her good friend had been killed by the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis. It had taken her a while to get over that and to don her costume once more. Now, to have this woman wearing the familiar S-logo, well that was just something she’d need to deal with.

Batwoman finally answered her. “Yes, I am going, in fact,” she repeated herself from before. “But why is that an interest to you?”

Superwoman smiled again. “Given my interest in history, I thought I’d join you. If that’s all right with you?”

Batwoman thought for a moment. The young woman seemed rather sincere in her interests. Perhaps in some ways she was too eager to try to make friends with her. Still, Barbara felt that perhaps she’d need to give this friendship a try. Kara would want it that way, she thought.

“OK,” Batwoman said. “You can tag along if you like. But let’s keep it low-key, OK?”

Superwoman smiled. “Groovy!”

Batwoman looked at her oddly. “Groovy?”

“Isn’t that the right term?”

Batwoman put her hand on the heroine’s shoulder. “Well, it was… fifteen to twenty years ago.”

“Oh.” The two headed off into the night to discuss the upcoming trip.

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