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Essential Huntress Stories
Who Is The Huntress?
Huntress originally appeared in comics way back in the 40's as a villain with the real name Paula Brooks, however it is the bronze and modern age Huntresses I want to tell you about today. Huntress reappeared in the Bronze Age in All Star Comics #69 in 1977. In this incarnation, Helena Wayne, daughter of Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Bruce Wayne (Batman), was the Huntress.
In the modern age of comics, a new version of Huntress was introduced. Helena Bertinelli is the daughter of a Gotham Mafia boss, seeking revenge for her family's murder. This Huntress also appears in Batman's 'No Man's Land'.
In the recent new 52, Huntress returned, first in her own mini series and later in the Worlds' Finest alongside Power Girl. At first the true identity of this Huntress was not revealed but it eventually turned out to be the Helena Wayne Huntress returning.
She is an interesting character, who is not always clearly good or bad, particularly in her Helena Bertinelli incarnation. She often fights the bad guys, but is sometimes prone to more violent moments and is more willing to cross the line that other heroes like Batman refuse to cross.
Huntress: Year One
Written by Ivory Madison with pencils from Cliff Richards, this book tells the origin story of the Helena Bertinelli Huntress.we learn that she was the daughter of a Gotham mobster who witnesses the murder of her Mother, Father and Brother, but is spared from execution herself.
She is sent to live with another Mob family in Sicily, who bring her up, and one of the sons of the family 'Pino' looks out for her as a big brother would, teaching her to defend herself. Then one day, her adopted family are all arrested by the police. She goes to see Pino and foolishly tries to break him out, but is surprised when the police are told to stand down. Soon after she learns that Pino has been murdered.
Around this time, Helena turns 21 and comes into her inheritance. She is surprised to learn that despite her family being rich and powerful she is receiving 'only' $2 million. She tracks down the individuals who are responsible for filtering off most of her inheritance and takes it back from them.
She then sets off on her journey of revenge, tracking down, torturing and in some cases killing those responsible for her family's deaths. Her journey eventually takes her back to Gotham, a place she has vowed to never return to. She uncovers a plot to flood the city and believes that Bruce Wayne is involved in the plot with the Major and the Mob bosses. At this point in the story there are some nice interactions between Helena, Bruce and in particular Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). These are interesting because of the characters relationship with these individuals in her Bronze age incarnation. Catwoman offers Helena some advice on surviving in Gotham and dealing with Batman, and Helena comments that Selina reminds her of someone who was like a mother to her.
In the end, she gets her revenge, tracking down the assassin who murdered her family and taking a hunters trophy from him (his tongue) but doesn't kill him. At the same time she foils a plot to blow the levy and flood part of Gotham. She then vows to 'track and vanquish those who cultivate fear and injustice," starting with Gotham.
DC's Year One titles are always a good jumping in point for characters, and this is a great example of this. Year One is well written and drawn and although her origin has some similarities to other characters, it is different enough to make it interesting and worth checking out.
"There comes a point when, to survive, the hunted must become the Huntress"— Helena Bertinelli
The Huntress: Darknight Daughter
This graphic novel collects the early appearances of the Helena Wayne Huntress. The most notable inclusion is a reprinting of the first appearance of the character from ' Secret Origins of Super-Heroes' issue 17 written by Paul Levitz and pencilled by Joe Staton. However there are other stories worth checking out, where Huntress takes on a variety of DC villains while teaming up with heroes like Robin and Power Girl.
Her origin in this carnation is as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman who got together after Selina Kyle is released from prison a reformed character. Her Mum and Dad have all but hung up their costumes as they raise their daughter, until one of Catwoman's former henchmen blackmails Selina into one last crime. Batman is called to the crime scene as Robin (who has taken over his role) is out of town. Batman grapples with the henchman and in the struggle Catwoman is shot. Helena vows to bring her mother's killer to justice and so takes on the mantle of Huntress.
The subsequent stories see Helena trying to balance her job as part of a research group with her crime fighting. They are quite short and easy to read stories, many of which were originally back up stories to Wonder Woman. In these, she takes on villains such as the Joker and Solomon Grundy, as well as some lesser bad guys like Lionmane, Crimelord and Karnage.
Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads
This story was originally published across six issues at the launch of DC's New 52. It features Huntress travelling to Italy to tackle smugglers who are bringing illegal goods to Gotham. Huntress is acting on an informants advice, but is unaware of what is being smuggled. She tracks down the container and is surprised to find it is women who are being smuggled. Guards are alerted by the noise made by the women who are thanking Huntress for their rescue and in the fight, some crates inside the container are broken, revealing that guns are also being smuggled at the same time.
To track down the criminals behind this, she asks the bellboy at her hotel to arrange for a women to be brought to her room. When she arrives she tackles the woman's handler and is about to ask her about who she works for when the woman calls for help. More bad guys arrive and huntress tackles them and leaves them tied up for the police, but they are killed before the police arrive.
As the story progresses, she traces the outfit's leader, a local mob boss, and discovers the girls are being sent by a man called 'the Chairman' from his dictatorship in another country called Kufra. She also learns that the mob boss is setting up a safe asylum for the Chairman.
She eventually takes down the mob boss on his private yacht, leaving him in the hands of some of the enslaved girls on the boat. She then turns her attention to the Chairman. She finds him in a hilltop hotel on the Amalfi Coast and after battling past the police, she takes on his private security, which includes a beast of a man named the Lion of Kufra, who is able to out muscle her, but not outsmart her. She then finds the Chairman hidden in a safe room and apparently kills him. We don't see the death, but we do see it reported in the following days paper.
This just leaves the Chairman's son who was setting up his father's move to Italy. He is so angered by his fathers death he places a one billion dollar bounty on the Huntress. He is hiding in a cliff top Capri villa, but Huntress finds her way up to him, but does not kill him. She allows him to live on the condition he makes changes in his home country and stops the trafficking of women. He also offers to remove the bounty on her head, but she tells him it is a compliment and he should double it. She boards a plane home but is chased off by security after the bounty. In the Airport she comes across Power Girl who she heads off with. This leads directly into the 'World's Finest' comic book story that was launched a couple of months afterwards.
Throughout this story it is never clearly stated which Huntress this is and it is enjoyable to pick up the clues that are given throughout the book. She travels on a false passport with the surname Bertinelli, but also makes several references that suggest she is Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, particularly when she scares off some dogs and states she is more of a cat person. We later find out in World's Finest that it is indeed the Helena Wayne Huntress.
I really enjoyed this book, and as one of the first stories I read after rediscovering comics it has a special place in my collection. It is well written by Paul Levitz with great art from Marcus To and a really good place to start if you are interested in finding out more about the Huntress.
Other Huntress Titles
There are several Huntress stories out there, although some require a little more tracking down than others. There are several involving Huntress teaming up with other heroes. These include:
- Worlds' Finest (2012) - Huntress teams up with Power girls in this ongoing series, written by Paul Levitz with art from George Perez and Kevin Maguire.
- Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood (2000) - A six issue mini series from Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett, where Huntress is framed for murder.
- Nightwing/Huntress (1998) - A four part mini series by Devin Grayson and Greg Land.
She has also featured fairly regularly in the 'Birds of Prey' title, as well as appearing in Batman Family, and featuring in Çrisis on Infinite Earths'.