Games! Yes, I know, I’ve submitted a long essay already, but this is a time of love and appreciation for a character in comics.
What better way than to reflect on Huntress in games. Not video games, but other games. Anyone remember DC Overpower?
I played the game years ago, and had a deck set up with Huntress, the HawkAvatar version of Hawkman, Shadowhawk from Image Comics, and the Falcon from Marvel. Always kept her in reserve because I loved using her Sneak Attack power as a surprise. As it turned out, she was often the one that helped win a match for me.
Huntress also had her own appearance as a HeroClix figure.
There was a few variants of her, to be honest. I have three different forms of the above (love to get my hands on the others).
I never had the opportunity to play HeroClix, but perhaps sometime in the future.
Before I really get into this, I’ll admit something; I’ve always been a Helena Bertinelli fan, but, this attraction with reading about the character and her stories really began with Helena Wayne. Because I’m old enough to remember the original Huntress’ first appearance in comics (by that, I mean Helena Wayne, not the Golden Age villain Paula Brooks who fought Wildcat… I’m not that old).
Helena Wayne made her appearances in All Star Comics and DC Superstars, and had a few stories in the Batman Family Dollar Comic format as it came to it’s last few issues. In 1980, Huntress had a backup feature in Wonder Woman for a time. I read them all, because I liked the character. It fit very well with what I would later identify as my love of Batman thanks to his supporting cast. Because in truth, if there was no supporting cast, Batman would be really boring.
Helena Wayne’s end would come in the often heralded and often maligned Crisis On Infinite Earths. Depending upon just who you were, it ushered in a new age of comic stories, but it also destroyed so many characters (a lament that is very familiar today with the New 52).
But the Huntress wasn’t gone, as she made her return as Helena Rosa Bertinelli (or Helena Janice Bertinelli as revealed in Robin 3, Cry of the Huntress). While having the same first name and a similar costume (albeit, changing somewhat over the years… woe to the “Belly Window”), Bertinelli had a very different origin.
It’s sort of that aspect that I really find interesting about the Huntress. Both versions, really. Both Wayne and Bertinelli have an origin that is often reserved for male heroes. That being the tragic backstory. We can all recite without failing the origin of Batman, how a young Bruce Wayne watched as his parents were gunned down in Crime Alley. Captain America watching as his side kick, Bucky Barnes was strapped to a buzz bomb and sent on his doom (in the comics, though the movie did have Cap watch Bucky die as well… or did he?). The Punisher, Spider-man, Daredevil, Spawn, Green Arrow, even Superman had a tragic back story that had a direct affect on them. Whether that was the death of a family member, being touted as the last son of a destroyed world, have a sudden disability, or an attempt to steal their fortune from them.
While this is the way of things for male heroes (not always, but often enough), female superheroes often get something completely different. Often it boils down to a female version of the male. Supergirl, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Hawkwoman, et al. Or, the mother happened to have been a superhero, and so it just became family tradition. Such as with Black Canary. The only difference has been Wonder Woman, who was the first of her kind, and didn’t have a male counterpart. To an extent, both versions of the Huntress also have very unique beginnings.
Both Wayne and Bertinelli had extremely personal loss happen to them before they took up the name of the Huntress. Wayne’s mother, Catwoman, was blackmailed to perform one last big capper. And as a result, she was killed. Bertinelli saw her entire family killed before her very eyes. Where the two stories differ is where the attitudes of Wayne and Bertinelli change a great deal. Helena Wayne was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Throughout her life, she’d have been taught a certain set of morals, how to approach situations, and was even trained by both parents to become the top physical condition she could be. Bertinelli on the other hand, was the daughter of a Gotham Mafia family. Wherein lay the differences, as Helena Bertinelli would know about the shady backdoor dealings of the criminal underworld, which would also make her actions much more violent (as seen quite fittingly in Huntress: Year One by Ivory Madison, Cliff Richards, Art Thibert and Norm Rapmund).
It’s this unique aspect to both their origins that drew me to the character. Helena Wayne when I was not even ten years old, and Helena Bertinelli when I was in my late teens. I often have voiced my own misgivings about the New 52 and the treatment of Helena Bertinelli. Those misgivings, as I would recollect, weren’t much different to what happened in 1985 during Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’m often wondering why both can’t exist in the same universe, even if one happens to be from a parallel Earth. A meeting like that would actually be rather exciting, considering how different their attitudes are. At least it does appear as though Bertinelli hasn’t been completely given up on, as she appears in the TV Series Arrow.
At the end of the day, I’ve really become a Bertinelli fan because of the fact that she’s existed in my lifetime for a longer and more recent time. But you can’t merely hand wave Helena Wayne because of that. If it wasn’t for Helena Wayne, there would be no Helena Bertinelli. Personally, if I had any say in the issue at all with DC, it would be to keep both characters alive and well.
Because oh the stories you could tell with both of them.
It’s Friday (mostly) and my ask box is open for questions.
Things you may ask about:
1. General questions about the Huntress, Power Girl, or anything Earth-2.
2. What Huntress books to pick up to learn more about Wayne or Bertinelli.
3. Who I think are the best writers and artists for the Huntress.
4. Any clarification on continuity as it pertains to either version of the Huntress.
5. Any other questions about the DC Multiverse, characters, stories, etc.
6. Any other random question like favourite tv show, movie, novel, etc.
Questions I won’t answer/won’t get posted:
1. Negative questions or opinions on other members of Huntress fandom.
2. Character bashing of either Helena Wayne or Helena Bertinelli.
3. Any personal information like where I live or where I work.
All questions will be tagged as ‘Ask Huntress Wayne’ and they may be asked using your username or anonymously.
I ♥ HUNTRESS WEEK → Starting on 3 November - 10 November
Thirty-six years ago, an awesome lady with an affinity for crossbows and the colour purple made her debut in the November-December issue of DC Comics Superstars #17 as well as the December issue of All Star Comics #69, both printed in 1977. Her name was Helena Wayne and she was the daughter of Earth-2’s Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.
As the Huntress, Helena Wayne was more than just the daughter of Batman and Catwoman continuing a rich legacy on Earth-2, she was also a valued member of both the Justice Society and Infinity Inc, two superhero teams that took on dangerous threats as they attacked her world or two. When not kicking around criminals on Gotham’s streets at night, Miss Wayne could be found prosecuting them in court as a public interest lawyer.
In addition to being all of those cool things, Helena Wayne did more than just make the Huntress a popular character and permanent fixture in the DC Universe. Her popularity with fans also helped open the doors for another equally popular version of the Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, who made her debut in January of 1989 in Huntress #1.
As Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress became the first Italian-American superhero who was also a woman, a Catholic, and a teacher all rolled into one. While she started off as the daughter of an organised crime family, she was also the first Italian-American character to break free of the stereotype that often associates Italy with the mafia in comics. Instead, she established an identity and a life that was uniquely her own.
Though she did not see eye-to-eye with the Batfamily on many things, and was expelled from the Justice League for doing what she felt was right, she was nonetheless a valued member of the Birds of Prey and established meaningful relationships with various superheroes of the DC Universe, including Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Dinah Laurel Lance, Renee Montoya, Vic Sage (The Question), and many more.
While it is unfortunate that these two great women have not had the luxury of co-existing in the same continuity together (Infinite Crisis notwithstanding), the Huntress is nonetheless a character who many fans have felt empowered by for three decades in both of her incarnations.
To celebrate what the Huntress has meant to us for the past 36 years (both as Wayne and Bertinelli), my friends and I have decided to devote the week of 3 November - 10 November to doing just that: sharing our love and enthusiasm for this one or both versions of the character. (Hence the name ‘I ♥Huntress’)
Day Zero: Why I Love Huntress will take place on 2 November as the ‘prelude’ to Huntress Week in which Stephanie from La Cacciatrice and myself (and possibly Morgan from FY Helena Wayne if she’s able to) will write about what the Huntress has meant to us, though everyone is also welcome to share your story as well! The more the merrier!
Other than that, I ♥ Huntress will officially start on 3 November with Day One : Origin using ‘I Heart Huntress’ as the Tumblr tag (#iHeartHuntress if you’re on Twitter). :)
Hope to see the Huntress tags flooded with love that week! :)
My favorite DC heroine — The Huntress!
I grew up with the Earth-2 version, enjoyed the Helena Bertinelli incarnation and adore the current New 52 version.
Some “expert” on tumblr wants to argue that they’re different characters & complain about me posting pictures of both - whatever. They’re different versions of the original to me.I like them all and don’t feel I need to explain or defend my fandom. I’ve been reading about The Huntress since she was introduced back in the Seventies!
HELENA BERTINELLI | Celebrating 36 Years of Badassery.
What does ‘36 Years’ mean? More info coming soon…