The Huntress
Huntress (Helena Bertinelli).png
Textless cover of Birds of Prey #123 (December 2008), art by Rafael Albuquerque.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAs Huntress:
The Huntress #1 (April 1989)
As Batgirl:
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83 (March 1999)
As Matron:
Nightwing (vol. 3) #30 (July 2014)
Created byJoey Cavalieri (writer)
Joe Staton (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoHelena Rosa Bertinelli
Team affiliationsJustice League
Birds of Prey
Batman Family
Justice League International
Outsiders
Checkmate
Spyral
PartnershipsBatman
Dick Grayson
Barbara Gordon
Black Canary
Tim Drake
Notable aliasesBatgirl, Matron[1]
Helena Janice Bertinelli
The Crossbow Killer
Abilities
  • Extensively trained acrobat and accomplished gymnast
  • Master martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant; proficient with melee weaponry such as a battle-staff
  • Expert markswoman; proficiency in different kinds of ranged weaponry such as crossbow, throwing knives, etc.
  • Master of disguise
  • Highly skilled in espionage; connections to an extensive network of spies and informants (New 52 incarnation)

The Huntress, also known as Helena Rosa Bertinelli, is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. She is the third DC character to bear the name Huntress; originally introduced as a new interpretation of Helena Wayne, no longer depicted as the future daughter of Batman and Catwoman as part of DC's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths relaunch, she was later established to be the modern-day equivalent, namesake and predecessor of Helena Wayne.[2] In DC Comics New 52 continuity, Helena Bertinelli is an alias used by Helena Wayne while the real Helena Bertinelli is an agent of the spy organization Spyral. In Rebirth, this is retconned back to her origins of her being in the mob.

In the first two seasons of the Arrowverse show Arrow, Helena Bertinelli was played by actress Jessica De Gouw. The character made her cinematic debut in the DC Extended Universe film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),[3] portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Publication history

Helena Bertinelli was introduced in her own Huntress series, written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by Joe Staton, co-creator and long-time artist of the Helena Wayne Huntress. Staton recalled: "I think Paul [Levitz] realized that I felt my involvement with Helena had been abruptly cut short [by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths], so I was always in line to be a part of any reworking of the character. I don't recall how Joey Cavalieri came to be the writer on the Helena Bertinelli version, but I think we did some nice work on that run. Helena Bertinelli could never have the deep resonance of Helena Wayne, because she didn't have the whole Batman/Catwoman backstory at her command, but Joey worked her into a different mythos, that of the mob, also dark, noirish".[4]

Fictional character biography

Origin

Huntress series

In the 1989 Huntress series, Helena Bertinelli was born into one of Gotham City's most prominent mafia families. In this iteration of the character, she was kidnapped as a child (aged 6) and raped by a rival mafia Don purely to psychologically torture her father and is a withdrawn girl. Her parents, Guido and Carmela, send her to a boarding school and assign a bodyguard for her protection where she learns all forms of combat. After she witnesses the mob-ordered murder of her parents at the age of 19, she crusades to put an end to the Mafia. She travels, accompanied and trained by her bodyguard Sal, before returning to Gotham to make her debut as the Huntress.

Cry for Blood

Huntress' origin was revised in 2000 in the six-issue Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood limited series written by Greg Rucka, art by Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty. Helena Rosa Bertinelli witnesses the murder of her entire family in their home when she is aged 8; a young Helena Rosa Bertinelli believes Franco Bertinelli to be her father, but her father is actually Santo Casamento, the don of a rival mafia family, who was carrying on an affair with Helena's mother, Maria. Helena is framed for two murders, which puts her in direct conflict with Batman and Nightwing. In an extended retreat with Richard Dragon and Vic Sage (The Question), she tries to achieve better emotional balance, returning to Gotham to confront her true father and learn more about her family's murder. She faces a choice between the more ethical woman she is becoming and the earlier Helena, who still hears the vengeance call as "blood cries for blood".

Huntress: Year One

Huntress starred in her own six-issue biweekly Year One miniseries from May to July 2008 by Ivory Madison and Cliff Richards.[5] The story recounts and expands upon the beginning of Helena's vigilante career. She is in Sicily, days from turning 21 and receiving the inheritance from the murder of her family, which occurred before her eyes when she was eight years old. Learning more about her family's murder at the hands of boss Stefano Mandragora,[6] Helena adopts a costume disguise and weaponry to seek revenge, confronting not only the men who ordered her family's death but the assassin himself.

In the process, she establishes herself as angrier and more violent than a standard costumed hero, foreshadowing the conflicts with more mainstream heroes, predominantly Batman. She crosses paths with Barbara Gordon (destined, like Oracle, to be a close friend and colleague), Catwoman, and Batman, who will become partial mentor, partial antagonist during her subsequent career as a Gotham superhero. She states that her compulsion derives from the moment before her family was murdered when she believes she could have acted to save them. The story ends with her renouncing the Bertinelli legacy of crime and "baptizing" herself The Huntress.

Relationship with Batman

Batman rarely accepts the Huntress, regarding her as unpredictable and violent. However, when Commissioner Gordon questions Batman about his attitude towards the Huntress, Batman replies, "You know exactly why I don't approve...You're not the only one she reminds of Barbara", in reference to Barbara Gordon, who had previously fought crime as Batgirl. Others in the Batman family feel differently; for instance, Tim Drake has a good relationship with her. Early in his career, he works with the female vigilante and later clears her name in a murder case.

Huntress is briefly involved with the Justice League International when she happens upon a brainwashed Blue Beetle attempting to murder Maxwell Lord. The League is impressed and asks her to join. Although League members help her on one of her own cases and she gets a tour of the group's New York City embassy, she never officially joins the team.

During the League's restructuring following the Rock of Ages crisis, Batman sponsors Huntress' membership in the Justice League,[7] hoping that the influence of other heroes will mellow the Huntress, and for some time, Huntress is a respected member of the League. Under the guidance of heroes such as Superman, Helena grows in confidence, even playing a key role in defeating Solaris during the DC One Million storyline; inspired by the time capsules students in her class had been making, she realizes they had over 800 centuries to set up a plan that would result in Solaris's defeat in the future. She also helps the League defeat foes like Prometheus and encourages Green Lantern to fight the Queen Bee's hypno-pollen during her invasion of Earth. She is later forced to resign after Batman stops her from killing Prometheus while he is incapacitated.[8]

Career in Gotham

No Man's Land

In the 1999 No Man's Land storyline, an earthquake levels Gotham City. The United States government declares Gotham City a "No Man's Land" and Batman disappears. To bring order to the city, Huntress assumes the mantle of Batgirl, and she discovers criminals fear her more as Batgirl than they do as Huntress.[9] Batgirl fails to protect Batman's territory from Two-Face and his gang of more than 200 criminals, leading to an argument between her and Batman. Huntress refuses to follow Batman's exact orders and gives up the Batgirl costume.[10]

Huntress teams with former police officer Petit and his men, who had broken off from the group led by former commissioner James Gordon. Petit believed that extreme force was the only way to survive No Man's Land. Batman intentionally drove Huntress to join Petit, knowing she could keep Petit in line and prevent him from hurting innocent people. On Christmas Eve, the Joker attacks Petit's compound. Petit is killed and the Huntress stands her ground, barely surviving the attack as the Joker and his men overrun the compound. Batman and Nightwing intervene in time and Huntress is taken to a field hospital operated by forces who want to rebuild Gotham City.

Birds of Prey and the Outsiders

Huntress becomes involved with Oracle and Black Canary in the comic series Birds of Prey. She bonds with Black Canary when they oppose a man called Braun, who had seduced and left them both. Huntress continues to work with the group, although her relationship with Oracle is strained and sometimes antagonistic due to Huntress' recklessness and Barbara's controlling nature.

She is made one of Oracle's full-time agents in Birds of Prey #68, after responding immediately to Barbara's intercepted call for help (intended for Dinah Lance). With two active agents on rotation, the lighter workload allows for Oracle to set up day jobs for Huntress and Black Canary; as an elementary school teacher and florist, respectively. The realization of her childhood dream of teaching gives Helena a great sense of fulfillment and inspires her stronger sense of protectiveness. For a time her straightforwardness continues to put her at odds with Barbara and even the accommodating Dinah, but eventually, her selflessness and desire to help her colleagues without hesitation win their trust, and she becomes a valued and integral member of the team.

During the Birds of Prey "Hero Hunters" arc, Huntress realizes Oracle has been manipulating her psychologically in order to make her "behave" properly, in the same way, a teacher attempts to reform a troubled child [11] and leaves the group. She later rejoins along with newcomer Lady Blackhawk who becomes another core member for the team. Upon Black Canary's departure of the team in Birds of Prey #99, Huntress becomes Oracle's most senior and trusted operative and field commander.

Huntress appeared in the Hush storyline. She saves Batman's life from a criminal gang after he suffers a fractured skull in a fall. Batman realizes that she is "so much like I was when I started out", and "she's better than she knows..." In the story, Huntress continues a feud with The Scarecrow. She later appears with a new costume and equipment, paid for by Thomas Elliot. While under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin, she fights Catwoman, thinking her to be her old self and wants to be more like the Dark Knight.

Huntress is asked to fill in an empty spot for the Outsiders after Arsenal sustains major injuries on a mission.[12] She leaves the team after just one mission.[13]

One Year Later

In 2006, the narratives of most DC Comics superhero series skipped one year. In the One Year Later stories, Huntress works with Oracle's group. With Black Canary's departure from the team (issue #99), in issue #100 Huntress becomes the team's field commander.

Huntress later returns to Gotham after the Birds disband, aiding Cassandra Cain in maintaining order after Gotham descends into chaos during the midst of the Battle for the Cowl event.

Joined by Lady Blackhawk and Grace Choi, Huntress later assists her then love interest Catman and his team the Secret Six in a massive supervillain battle to steal Neron's Get Out of Hell Free Card.[14]

Brightest Day

During the Brightest Day event, Oracle gathers the Birds of Prey back together in Gotham. In addition to getting the band back together, Oracle adds Hawk and Dove to the team. Huntress aids Black Canary (who had now left the Justice League), in a battle against a new villainess calling herself the White Canary.[15] The Birds soon strike up an uneasy alliance with the Penguin, who ultimately betrays them and severely injures Zinda and Hawk. He attempts to kill Huntress as well, but she and Dove easily defeat him.[16] While Dove takes Hawk and Zinda to a hospital, Huntress binds and gags the Penguin with duct tape, intending to take the villain prisoner in order to interrogate him. After being informed by Oracle that she has to leave the Penguin behind, Huntress considers murdering him in cold blood, but instead opts to leave him alive.[17]

The New 52

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In the relaunch issue of Worlds' Finest, the Huntress is Helena Wayne from Earth 2. The Helena Bertinelli Huntress did exist but has been long dead, with all her exploits having been committed by Helena Wayne acting in her name.

Helena Bertinelli of Earth Prime on the cover of Grayson Annual #1 (February 2015), art by Mikel Janín.
Helena Bertinelli of Earth Prime on the cover of Grayson Annual #1 (February 2015), art by Mikel Janín.

The series Grayson, written by Tim Seeley and Tom King and released in 2014 revealed a new Prime Earth Helena Bertinelli in The New 52 continuity, appearing in the series as a spy and partner of Dick Grayson.[18] Prime Earth's Helena Bertinelli is revealed to be an agent of the organization Spyral, who is presumed dead by the outside world. This incarnation of the character is a dark skinned Italian-American woman to keep readers from confusing her with Helena Wayne of Earth 2 according to Grayson series writer Tim Seeley.[19] Her origin is expanded on in Grayson Annual #1 (February 2015). Helena is described as "the most wanted woman in the world", the granddaughter of Frank Bertinelli and the heir to "the entire Sicilian mob", who "disappeared" five years ago; her disappearance is legendary among criminals.

In the Agent of Spyral storyline she is the Matron of St. Hadrian's Boarding School for girls and a teacher herself. She rescues Leslie Thompsons from a raid by the Der Faust Die Kane (translating to "The Fist of Cain"), a depopulation terrorist cult made up of serial killers and hitmen.[20] During an interrogation, both the director of Spyral Minos and Helena learn of Batman's secret identity. Later, she is the individual that picks Dick Grayson as a candidate to join Spyral. Minos then enlists Dick Grayson as Agent 37 and Helena's partner. Both are tasked with the duty of retrieving the Paragon Organs, which formerly belonged to Paragon. Each organ grants a different power of the Justice League, but these organs are also highly sought by other intelligence organizations such as A.R.G.U.S and Checkmate. Both she and her partner run into Midnighter, who attempts to foil Spyral's current agenda.[21]

Minos sends Helena and Dick to retrieve Paragon's brain, which holds Martian Manhunter's telepathic abilities, but they are too late. Dick later disappears and Helena learns that the Fist of Cain took the Brain and plans to unleash a psychic attack at a peace rally in Tel-Aviv and force people to kill each other. As she makes her way to Tel-Aviv, she later learns of her partner's fate with the use of Spyral's immense technological capabilities with Hypnos and informs them to send the current plans to Midnighter. As she arrives, she finds herself under psychic attack and due to the stress of previously using Hypnos to interrogate and locate her lost partner, she overworks herself. Dick and Midnighter assist. As Helena does her best to stop the crowd from killing each other, she ends up nearly killed by the Fist of Cain's leader, Christian Fleisher. She is saved by what appears to be Mister Minos. After the plan is foiled and Spyral retrieves the brain, she comments that she had various memory gaps from overworking herself mentally. Later, as part of Minos's endgame to out the secrets of Spyral, he shoots her with her own crossbow in an attempt to kill her. She survives and informs Grayson of Minos's plan to kill fellow Spyral Agent 1 (also "Tiger"). After Grayson rescues Agent 1, she reappears and seemingly kills the Minos, unaware that she actually killed a light composite of the real thing.[22]

Helena Bertinelli as Huntress on the cover of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #6, art by Yanick Paquette.
Helena Bertinelli as Huntress on the cover of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #6, art by Yanick Paquette.

In the aftermath of Minos's betrayal of Spyral and death at the hands of Agent Zero, Helena became the new Director of Spyral.[23] This however put her at odds with Grayson, who after Batman's disappearance after his battle with the Joker in "Endgame", began dismantling Spyral with the help of Agent 1, the Tiger. Grayson and Bertinelli were pawns in the twisted mind of Dr. Otto Netz, who used his two daughters to play the world's super-espionage agencies against each other in a bid to take over the body of someone he considered a worthy receptacle. Initially choosing Bertinelli, Netz then attacked Grayson's mind, but Grayson destroyed the villain mentally. In the aftermath, and as part of the DC Rebirth event, Helena left Spyral and assumed the mantle of Huntress, appearing in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.[24]

DC Rebirth

This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (August 2017)

At the beginning of the DC Rebirth era, Helena takes the name of Huntress and crosses paths with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Black Canary (Dinah Lance) in Gotham City. Issue #4 details her origin story as a mafia princess seeking revenge for her family's murders, and she is now tracking Santo Cassamento, who masterminded the murders. She works with the Birds of Prey to track down an impostor who is masquerading as Oracle, Batgirl's former hacker alias. Soon after, she discovers her mother, Maria Bertinelli has survived that fateful night and was now in charge of the operation, who tells her what had really happened: Maria had fallen in love with Santo, and wanting to get away from her husband, she and Santo organized his murder, but Santo went ahead and killed Helena's older brother as well, much to Maria's grief, and she also vowed revenge. Upon hearing this, Helena decideds not to kill Santo, but arrests him and Maria, who had become a powerful crime boss. After the arrest, Helena joins the Birds of Prey, and becomes a new teacher at a local school.

Skills, abilities, and resources

Similarly to Batman, Huntress possess no inherent super-powers and instead relies on her natural abilities. An expert martial artist, Huntress has mastered several unspecified martial arts and is considered a superb gymnast. She is also a expert on various weaponry and is a skilled marksman, able to use weaponry such as a bull-whip, darts, crossbows, throwing knives, etc. Her skills were suited enough to surprise and garner some praise from one of DC Universe's master martial artists, Lady Shiva.[25][26] Huntress is also noted for her high pain tolerance, being able to withstand a beating from aforementioned assassin, giving her the title of "Iron Owl".[25]

Among her strongest skill sets lies in her ability to disguise herself, her mastery allowing her to portray herself as a wide range of people and personalities and is capable enough to convince a serial killer of being their relative in one instance.[26] Huntress's New 52 incarnation retains similar skills and abilities with some newer ones: a former agent of Spyral, she possess extensive espionage training with ties to a network of spies and informants. Her time as a agent of Spyral also made her an expert helicopter pilot and motorcyclist.[27]

Among the weaponry Helena possess includes a customized crossbow, her preferred weapon of choice.[26][27] She also utilizes a customized motorcycle as her main mode of transportation.[27]

Other versions

Flashpoint

In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Huntress joined with the Amazons' Furies.[28]

Earth 2

Main article: Huntress (Helena Wayne)

Injustice: Gods Among Us

In the prequel comic to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Helena is a member of Batman's insurgency, that combats Superman's One-Earth regime, she was very close to Kate Kane and Renee Montoya, Helena is killed in a battle against Wonder Woman, thus angering Kate and strengthening her resolve to fight the regime. She is one of the few deceased members alongside Green Arrow, Dick Grayson, Renee, James Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth.

Arrow

In the Arrow tie-in comic, after the death of her boyfriend Michael, Helena goes to Sicily in Italy where she discovers the existence of La Morte Sussurrata (The Whispered Death), an organisation of killers trained by the Hashshashins of Persia when they migrated to Italy. Helena begins to have sex with various members to earn their trust, one of them being Silvio, who trains her to become an effective killer. She uses those skills to take down her father's criminal empire and her father.

In Arrow: Season 2.5 comic, Helena is released from prison by Lyla Michaels and Roy Harper after Felicity Smoak was taken by Renegades and Oliver having no backup. She helps him to take down the enemies including Lyle Bolton and back Felicity. After their rescuing, they go to helicopter, but Clinton Hogue (former bodyguard of Sebastian Blood) threatens to kill Roy. He is defeated when he is knocked out of the plane towards to the ground. Helena returns to prison, believing that she knew what justice required. As Oliver leaves, she tells him not to let Felicity get away.

In other media

Television

Huntress in Justice League Unlimited.
Huntress in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Jessica De Gouw as Helena Bertinelli in Arrow.
Jessica De Gouw as Helena Bertinelli in Arrow.

Film

Miscellaneous

Huntress makes an appearance in issue #19 of Batman and Robin Adventures and in issue #2 of the comic book tie-in of Justice League Unlimited, set in DC Animated Universe.

Video games

Reception and analysis

In the view of Michael Eury and Gina Misiroglu the character of Helena Bertinelli was introduced and given her own series to capitalize on the popularity of the previous Huntress, Helen Wayne, after that character was eliminated in DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths series. While The Huntress was cancelled after 19 issues, "the heroine has maintained a profile through numerous gues appearances in other Batman titles", as well as in a number of other media.[31]

Sophie Bonadè characterized Helena Bertinelli is an ambiguous female character since, unlike the other members of the Bat-Family, she doesn't hesitate to kill. Together with her predecessor Helena Wayne she is at the forefront of a very marked increase in the number of female characters in the catalog of the publisher DC Comics in the second half of the 1980s. She is a typical character of "Bad Girl Art": She is a woman of action, has an ambiguous morality and is scantily clothed. Among the new characters appearing the Batman univers during that time, the Huntress is the only superheroine, and the second female character in the Bat family to get her own comic series.[32]

Marc DiPaolo called Helena Bertinelli's story a "retreat from psychological darkness into the light" and saw her "as a commentary on the Punisher" and "corrective to his pernicious influence": While she was initially also motivated by revenge, "she was ultimately rehabilitated" and "renounced murder" as a means in her crime fighting.[33]

References

  1. ^ Grayson #1
  2. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2008). The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 49–50. ISBN 9780345501066.
  3. ^ "Margot Robbie Reveals Full 'Birds of Prey' Title: 'The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn'". thehollywoodreporter. November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Callahan, Timothy (February 2010). "The Huntress: The Daughter of the Bat and the Cat". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (#38): 71–78.
  5. ^ Steve Ekstrom IVORY MADISON: TALKING ABOUT HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE NEWSARAMA March 10, 2008 http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=149603 Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Huntress #2
  7. ^ JLA Secret Files #2
  8. ^ JLA #40
  9. ^ Batman: No Man's Land #0
  10. ^ Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120
  11. ^ Simone, Gail (w). Birds of Prey #80 (May 2005), DC Comics
  12. ^ Outsiders vol. 3 #8
  13. ^ Outsiders vol. 3 #12
  14. ^ Secret Six vol. 2 #7
  15. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #1-2
  16. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #4
  17. ^ Birds of Prey vol. 2 #5
  18. ^ Rodgers, Vaneta (May 14, 2014). "GRAYSON Creators: Super-Spy DICK WILL Carry Gun, Have a Surprise Partner". Newsarama. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  19. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (10 July 2014). ""SPOILERS! GRAYSON Writers Establish HELENA & DICK's New Status Quo & MIDNIGHTER's Role"". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  20. ^ Nightwing vol. 2 #30
  21. ^ Grayson #1-4, Annual #1; Secret Origins #8
  22. ^ Grayson #5-8
  23. ^ McDonald, Joshua (March 17, 2015). "June 2015 Solicitations". Batman-News. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  24. ^ Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth #1
  25. ^ a b Simone, Gail (2011). Birds of Prey : end run. Ed Benes, Inc DC Comics. New York: DC Comics. ISBN 978-1-4012-3131-6. OCLC 666229319.
  26. ^ a b c Who's Who in the DC Universe #6. DC Comics. 1991.
  27. ^ a b c Scott, Melanie (2019). DC ultimate character guide (New ed.). New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-7975-4. OCLC 1089398386.
  28. ^ Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
  29. ^ "THE OFFICIAL HUNTRESS UPDATE". Marc Guggenheim.
  30. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 26, 2018). "'Birds Of Prey' Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead Wins Role Of Huntress; Jurnee Smollett-Bell Is Black Canary". Deadline. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  31. ^ Eury, Michael; Misiroglu, Gina (2012). "The Huntress". In Misiroglu, Gina (ed.). The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons an Hollywood Heroes (2nd ed.). Detroit: Visible Ink Press. pp. 186–187. ISBN 978-1-57859-375-0.
  32. ^ Bonadè, Sophie (3 December 2019). Des superhéroïnes à Gotham City: une étude de la (re)définition des rôles genrés dans l'univers de Batman (PDF) (PhD) (in French). Université Paris-Saclay. pp. 133, 135, 145. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  33. ^ DiPaolo, Marc (2011). War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film. McFarland & Company. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7864-4718-3.