A few scant days after the rampage in Los Angeles that she apparently initiated, the mysterious black-clad villainess who robbed the New York Federal Reserve has appeared on television screens across New York, holding hostage a Lictor that had been sent after her and apparently defeated. Calling herself “Spiderella,” the gorgeously gothy femme fatale threatens her hostage’s death if The Diskman doesn’t agree to meet her alone at the old Kitty Kat Klub on Broadway. Her deadline: one scant hour!
While Doctor Atlas, Diskman, and Airlift jet on full afterburners to New York, Flashback sets to work investigating the villainess’s connection to the Golden Age Lady Mesmera, the Countess of Crime and seductress extraordinaire who, by all accounts, died unmarried and childless in a Florida rest home decades ago. As a Black superhero, the temporal traveler’s arrival in the St. Petersburg, Florida of 1958 causes quite a stir and he is nearly given the bum’s rush by a pair of thyroidal orderlies, but he manages to make his case and is shown into the lair of Lady Mesmera – or rather, the slightly kitsch apartment of Dotty DeVries, former speakeasy burlesque dancer turned crime moll turned crime boss turned supervillain turned tart-tongued and dirty-minded retiree.
While fending off her advances, Flashback manages to ascertain that while officially listed as unmarried and childless, Dotty had actually had a son and a daughter on two separate occasions in her youth but as an unwed criminal had elected to give the children up. Returning to the present to share his findings, he and the team learn from Scanner that a former Chicago-area crime reporter, Vic Redmond, had recently sold his private collection of Lady Mesmera memorabilia on eBay, where they were purchased by an anonymous customer and shipped to a PO box in New York near the site of the Kitty Kat Klub.
Disembarking over New York City, the team find that the old three-story brick building that once housed the infamous speakeasy has been converted to loft apartments with a Sbarro franchise on the ground floor. Turning into vapor to check the apartments, Airlift finds them either empty or clearly occupied by ordinary people, although one of the empty ones bears clear signs of having been where Spiderella taped her threatening broadcast. Investigating the pizzeria, the heroes find nothing unusual and the patrons and employees claim not to have seen the woman in question – until, looking more closely, Diskman notices green lipstick residue on their collars. As one, the crowd stand up and attack the heroes!
As the heroes try to defend themselves while stopping the mind-controlled civilians, Airlift sneaks into the back of the store to poke around, and after dunking a rampaging cook in his own sink, finds what he needed: a false wall that opens onto a staircase leading down to the real Kitty Kat Klub, twenty feet below street level!
After subduing the civilians, the heroes proceed downstairs to find a reconstituted and reimagined Kitty Kat Klub, now an opulent fetish den, complete with open bar and burlesque act – which, of course, is Spiderella herself, taunting the heroes from the limelight. The Diskman wastes no time in attempting to subdue her, throwing his shield as soon as she attempts to speak; his powerful throw and dead-on aim are unerring, but the blow is intercepted by a nimble patron! It seems that every single person in the bar is in thrall to Spiderella and the powerful hallucinogenic cosmetics she wields, a point which is only driven further home as the heroes are attacked by the “hostage” Lictor!
Thinking fast, Airlift uses his powers to drain the air supply from the Lictor’s armor, causing its mind-controlled pilot to pass out. While Doctor Atlas carefully fends off the furious horde of thralls with dazzling but harmless blasts of his Promethean Ray, the Diskman and Flashback take the fight to Spiderella herself, subduing her with relative ease.
“Why couldn’t you have brought the real Diskman,” Spiderella cries as she slips into unconsciousness. As the heroes puzzle over this statement, Doctor Atlas uses his Scanalyzer to confirm their theory: the villainess is indeed related to Lady Mesmera – she is, in fact, her granddaughter – but she has developed mutant pheromonal powers of her own, possibly as a result of her grandmother’s strange chemical cocktails. But that isn’t the most unsettling thing that the Scanalyzer reveals: seized by a sudden, terrible certainty, the Diskman asks Doctor Atlas to check Spiderella against another set of DNA – that of the original Diskman!
The Scanalyzer bears his intution out, leaving the team with more questions than answers. What was the nature of the liaison between Lady Mesmera and the Diskman? Did love blossom between two foes, or is Spiderella the result of a terrible, decades-old crime? And could that be the motivation for her villainous debut? As the dust settles, the new Diskman cannot shake the nagging feeling that he has just encountered his very first arch-enemy…