A handsome man in a costly business suit walked slowly out the door of his mansion, entered his foreign sports car, and drove recklessly toward Gotham City. He was refined and mature-looking with graying hair. A young man on a motorcycle tore through the streets of Gotham City with a glazed look in his own eyes. Finally, two other men of different ages and backgrounds made their own desperate journeys toward Gotham City.
None of them really had a thing in common with the others except for the fact that they were compelled to rush to the city. It was a city most of them had never visited. In the course of normal events, they likely would never have gone there. However, their fevered expressions, frantic haste, and glazed eyes marked them as those set apart from the common walk of humanity.
The irony was that these individuals had no idea that they were not acting alone. Each had no idea that others shared his compulsion. All they knew was that the One who controlled them wanted them to go to Gotham City to find one young woman. They would die before failing in their mission.
The fastest man alive was also rushing into Gotham City. His name was Wally West, though whenever he wore his colorful red costume he used the celebrated name of the Flash. He carried a pretty blonde woman who held him tightly, looking grim and worried. Wally noticed Frances Kane’s expression. Since he knew her so well, it really didn’t take much of an outward sign to signal Wally that the lovely blonde college student was very worried. He even knew what bothered the demure girl. Smiling, he tried to make her forget her stress.
“Frances, I’ll buy you a We visited the Batcave, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt and utility belt T-shirt,” he joked.
She smiled. “Thanks, but I’m not big on any costumes, remember?”
The Flash nodded, knowing that she referred to her own powerful innate gift to control the forces of magnetism. She had no desire to use those gifts as a costumed heroine, even alongside Wally and his friends in the New Titans. They had been good to her in times of trouble, and they had sheltered her when her mother had cast her out of the only home she had ever known. (*) Still, Frances was not eager to be a crime-fighter. She wanted to be a normal young woman and nothing more.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Possessing of Frances Kane,” The New Teen Titans #17 (March, 1982).]
Wally had brought her to Gotham City for a purpose related to her loss of family. Her mother had rigidly held to the wrong and hurtful belief that her daughter’s powers marked her as one lost to evil and unworthy of belonging to their family. She hadn’t spoken to her in months. Frances had been heartbroken by the loss of her relationship with her mother, and since the loss was perhaps initiated by the deaths of her brother and father in a car accident that Frances alone survived, the girl was completely alone in the world. Wally had been all too aware of her need and her pain. He had been close to his parents and remained so. He’d also been close to a loving aunt and uncle who’d both died years apart, and mourned their loss. He knew from growing up in Blue Valley and from his time in the Teen Titans that the sense of warmth and belonging that came from such a support group was a wonderful thing that many never knew. Thus he had asked his longtime best friend Dick Grayson to see if he could track down any remote Kane relations that Frances might come to know as family.
The brilliant Dick Grayson, alias Nightwing of the New Titans, had been busy. He had made peace with his friends in the team following a difficult time of captivity and mind-control. He had parted from his lover when she was forced to take part in an alien ceremony of state that he viewed as being as final and separating as a marriage. He had returned home in time to help his team find an alien invasion, and now he had returned to Gotham City to make peace with his mentor Bruce Wayne, alias Batman.
Certain events had occupied the young hero too much to take back the reins of team leadership from Donna Troy just yet, but he knew she was capably overseeing the team in a troubled time. Of course, she still had family issues of her own to deal with, not to mention getting used to calling herself Artemis instead of Wonder Girl. (*) Jason Todd, the new Robin, had temporarily taken his own place on the team and was learning things with the Titans that even a partnership with Batman could not teach him. Changeling was still dealing with his stepfather Steve Dayton, who as Mento had gone mad last year and was still behaving mysteriously, and Cyborg was standing by his pal. Raven was recovering from her own time as a brainwashed cult member in the Church of Blood. Starfire was mourning the loss of her Thanagarian husband. Jericho and Kole were getting to know each other all over again after her brush with death during the Crisis. Lilith had returned from Olympus but was too preoccupied tracking down the Children of the Sun alongside the strange winged alien called Azrael to involve herself much with her fellow Titans. Aqualad and Hawk were each dealing with the loss of their loved ones. And Roy Harper, alias Arsenal, was knee-deep in diapers as he cared for his baby daughter Lian. (*)
With all the tumultuous events involving not only the New Titans, but also Batman and his allies in the re-formed Justice League of America, Dick was happy to be able to contact Wally with welcome news.
“I’ve got good news,” Dick had said. “Not only is Frances related to some living Kanes, but we know one of them. Betty Kane is a distant relation. I called her, and she happens to be passing through Gotham for a tennis tournament. She’ll be here later today. Can you bring Fran to the Gotham Plaza Hotel?”
“That’s great!” Wally had replied. “I never even thought about Betty. Didn’t exactly take much Bat-training to locate her, did it?” He laughed.
“I did call her via Bat-speed dial,” Dick had quipped.
Thus Wally had rushed over to greet Frances as she exited her college class, and he had revealed the surprise.
“A pal of mine, Nightwing, learned you have some kin,” he had explained. “We even know one of them — Betty Kane, no less.”
Frances had been pleased, but surprised. “The model? The tennis player?”
Wally grinned. “Like, yeah! She is happy to hear about you and is coming to Gotham. So, shall we?”
“Sure,” said Fran. “Betty Kane, huh? I wonder if she’ll like me.”
Wally grinned. “Not at first. You’re too gorgeous. Still, she’ll come around.”
The Gotham Plaza Hotel was a luxurious locale that routinely housed stars of screen, television, stage, and the world of sports. It was a place where the wealthy could enjoy every privilege money could buy.
Blonde and beautiful Betty Kane, wearing a pink miniskirt and white top, was there now, and she was bored. She lounged across a plush chair and pondered her life thus far.
She was a famous athlete, model, and spokeswoman. She enjoyed the sensation of knowing that she was physically at the top of her game. She had mastered tennis, gymnastics, and martial arts, and was also secretly a whiz at the sciences as well. Still, Betty wanted more. She had eagerly accepted Dick’s offer to meet this unknown relative, since she still felt the loss of her Aunt Kathy even years after she was killed by the League of Assassins. (*) She also missed her old heroic career that seemed to have faded away by her own choice far too soon. (*) She had given up being the original Bat-Girl for her tennis career and had inadvertently let that Janey-come-lately redhead to become the second Batgirl, eclipsing Betty’s own brief career almost entirely in the public eye so much that, when she briefly became Bat-Girl again while teaming up with Teen Titans West, most people assumed that she’d stolen the name. (*) Now, years after giving up her costumed crime-fighting career, she wondered if that had been a mistake. She sighed and fluffed her hair in the mirror, then answered the door.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Vengeance Vow,” Detective Comics #485 (August-September, 1979), “Bat-Girl,” Batman #139 (April, 1961), “The Coast-to-Coast Calamities,” Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977), “Titans East, Titans West, and Never Shall the Titans Meet,” Teen Titans #51 (November, 1977), and “When Titans Clash,” Teen Titans #52 (December, 1977).]
“Dick, that is you beneath the beard, right?” she said. “I can tell it’s fake.”
Dick Grayson nodded with a grin. “I use a disguise at times when I mix with the heroic set while not in costume in Gotham,” he explained. “Can’t be too careful about people connecting Dick Grayson, who is something of a celebrity here, with others who might be revealed as super someday.”
Betty smiled and kissed him. “Oh, you could, like, just let the press think Dick Grayson, boy socialite, is, you know, having a wild and passionate affair with glam tennis babe Betty Kane.”
“Or not,” laughed Dick. “You look great, Betty. Seems like only yesterday you were sporting your Bat-compact and tear-gas powder-puff.”
She put one hand on her hip. “Well, a girl crime-fighter has to be prepared. Imagine, King Cobra and his Cobra Gang are, like, trying to put the venom bite on you, and a bomb is ticking away… and your mascara is majorly smeared.” She laughed. “I’m teasing. You thought I was serious, didn’t you? Some detective!”
Dick smiled. “Betty, you know how sorry we all were about Kathy.”
She nodded grimly. “Thank you. I miss her. She saw me as something more than, like, a pretty face or a party girl.”
Patting her arm, he said, “Frances needs family, too. You and she share a great-great-great-grandfather or something, and she is hurting. Her mom disowned her because she has magnetic powers.”
“That is sooo kewl!” said Betty. “Some of the guys on the tennis circuit thought I had magnetism, too.”
“She’ll be here any second,” said Dick. “Thanks for seeing us.”
“Seriously, I’m glad to find a long-lost relation,” said Betty.
As Wally West and Frances Kane entered, Betty frowned. “I’ve seen you before,” she said. “Weren’t you at Donna Troy’s wedding? Purple-hued dress, strap heels?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “We are Gathered Here Today,” Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (February, 1985).]
“Why, yes,” Frances replied, smiling. “I saw you there, too, but we didn’t get to talk. I was star-struck. I mean, Michael Jackson was there.”
Betty took her hand. “Michael is rad. When he thanked the girls in the balcony at the Grammys, he was really talking to me.”
Wally and Dick shook hands and watched.
“You know, Franny, we could be so totally simpatico,” said Betty. “Blondes with brains, y’know? We must go out sometime. I’m, like, heading for the Big Apple for a Special Olympics appearance and some celebrity playing, all for charity. Wanna come?”
Frances smiled, taken aback by Betty’s outgoing personality. “Well, I can’t really get away from school now,” she said, “but we have so much to talk about. It’s a thrill to meet you.”
Betty sat down and pulled Frances next to her on a large sofa. “So, about this magnetism…” she began.
Wally and Dick exchanged glances, and Wally stepped up. “Uh, Betts, Fran is kinda sensitive about it,” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Betty said, effecting a shocked look as she placed her hand on her chest. “But listen, Fran — anything that makes you stand out from the crowd is so totally righteous, y’know?”
“Good thing Batman had me learn so many languages,” Dick remarked. “Valley-speak is a real test.”
Wally grinned. “You are, like, so totally right!”
Time passed, and when Dick finally led Betty down to the lobby to get her mail, Wally took a minute to see how Frances was doing.
“So, kid, you okay?” he asked. “Betty is a real dynamo. She can take some getting used to.”
Frances smiled warmly. “I like her. She isn’t what I expected at all. Beneath that glitz and gab, I think she has real depth.”
“See?” said Wally. “I knew that she’d be delighted with you. Who wouldn’t?”
At that moment, the four mysterious travelers burst into the room. Their glazed eyes indicated that they weren’t in their right minds, but neither were they slow. Energy bursts blasted out to stun Wally as he rushed to protect Frances.
As Frances screamed, all the metal in the room exploded toward the grim figures, who had burned through the glass deck doors with the same energy that they’d emitted via their odd wands. She struggled and held them off before one lucky blast slammed her to the floor.
She was quickly scooped up along with Wally, and the odd group flew off with their prisoners.
“We have her!” said all of them as one.