Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)

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The Huntress
Art from the cover to Birds of Prey #91, by Jesus Saiz
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance The Huntress #1 (April 1989)
Created by Joey Cavalieri
Joe Staton
(based upon the Helena Wayne character by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Joe Orlando, & Bob Layton)
In-story information
Alter ego Helena Rosa Bertinelli
Team affiliations Birds of Prey
Batman Family
Justice League
Partnerships Black Canary
Dick Grayson
Robin (Tim Drake)
Notable aliases Batgirl
Abilities Excellent athlete, marksman, and hand-to-hand combatant.

The Huntress (real name Helena Rosa Bertinelli) is a fictional character in the DC Universe. Based upon the Earth-Two character Helena Wayne, she is one of several DC characters to bear the Huntress name. Helena was also for a time one of the versions of Batgirl and was a longtime member of the Birds of Prey. Within the current DC comics continuity, Helena Bertinelli is an alias used by Helena Wayne, while the real Helena Bertinelli, thought to be dead, is an agent of the spy organization Spyral.

Publication history[edit]

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."[1]

Fictional character biography[edit]


Huntress series[edit]

In the 1989 Huntress series, Helena Rosa 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was kidnapped as a child (aged 6) and raped by a rival mafia don purely to psychologically torture her father, and is a withdrawn girl.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 entire family 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[edit]

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 Cassamento, the don of a rival mafia family, who was carrying on an affair with Helena's mother, Maria. The story revolves around Helena's exile from Gotham, ordered by Batman, who finds her to be too violent and out of control. 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[edit]

Huntress starred in her own six-issue biweekly Year One miniseries from May to July 2008 by Ivory Madison and Cliff Richards.[2] 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, 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, predominately Batman. She crosses paths with Barbara Gordon (destined, as 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[edit]

Cover to Batman Chronicles #18. Art by Dale Eaglesham.

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. However, besides League members helping her on one of her own cases and getting a tour of the group's New York 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,[3] 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 realises 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. However, she is later forced to resign after Batman stops her from killing the currently-incapacitated Prometheus.[4]

Career in Gotham[edit]

No Man's Land[edit]

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.[5] However, 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.[6]

Huntress then ends up with former police officer Petit and his men, who had broken off from the group led by former commissioner James Gordon, Petit believing that extreme force was the only way to survive No Man's Land. Batman intentionally drove Huntress to join Petit, knowing she could keep him in line and prevent him from hurting any innocent people. During 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 twenty of his men attempt to take control of the compound. Batman and Nightwing intervene in time and Huntress is taken to a field hospital operated by forces who wanted to rebuild Gotham City.

Birds of Prey and the Outsiders[edit]

Detail from the cover for Birds of Prey #80. Art by Ed Benes.

Huntress becomes involved with Oracle and Black Canary in the comic series Birds of Prey, establishing a close friendship with Black Canary in the process as their initial storyline featured them going up against a man called Braun who had seduced and left them both. Huntress continues to work with the group, although Oracle and herself share a strained and sometimes antagonistic relationship due to Huntress' reckless tendencies and Barbara's controlling nature.

She is made one of Oracle's full-time agents in Birds of Prey #68, after responding immediately to a call for help sent by a captive Barbara (albeit only being there to hear it due to having broken into Oracle's base, and the call having been intended for Dinah Lance). With two active agents on rotation, the lighter work load allows for Oracle to set up day jobs for Huntress and Black Canary; as an elementary school teacher and florist, respectively. The realisation of a her childhood dream of being a teacher gives Helena a great sense of fulfillment and inspires within her a 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 wins 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 [7] and leaves the group. She later rejoins along with newcomer Lady Blackhawk who becomes the pilot and 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, as well as field commander.

Huntress also appeared in the Hush storyline. In the storyline, Huntress saves an immobilized Batman's life from a criminal gang when he suffers a fractured skull from a fall after his batrope is cut over Crime Alley. Batman thinks to himself how she is, "so much like I was when I started out", and "she's better than she knows..." In the story, Huntress continues her semi-feud with The Scarecrow. She eventually returns 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 also asked to serve to fill in an empty spot for the Outsiders after Arsenal sustains major injuries on a mission.[8] However, she quickly leaves the team after just one stint.[9]

One Year Later[edit]

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.[10]

Brightest Day[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Helena Bertinelli of Earth Prime. Grayson Annual #1

The New 52[edit]

In the premiere issue of Worlds' Finest (of DC's The New 52 reboot), it is revealed not only that the Huntress of the post-Flashpoint universe is Helena Wayne from Earth 2, but that Helena Bertinelli has been long dead and that all the exploits of Helena Bertinelli's Huntress were committed by Helena Wayne acting in her name.

In May 2014, writers Tim Seeley and Tom King of the DC series Grayson, revealed that the Prime Earth Helena Bertinelli will appear in the series as a spy and partner of Dick Grayson.[14]

Prime Earth 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 woman to keep readers from confusing her with Helena Wayne of Earth 2 according to Grayson series writer Tim Seeley.[15] 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.

Other versions[edit]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Huntress joined with the Amazons' Furies.[16]

Earth 2[edit]

In other media[edit]


  • The Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress has appeared in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Amy Acker. In the episode "Double Date", her thirst for revenge against Steven Mandragora (the murderer of her parents who is unrelated to a Stefano Mandragora from the comics) results in her expulsion from the Justice League by Martian Manhunter. Green Arrow and Black Canary chase Huntress only to find her ready to kill Mandragora until the Question talks her down and Mandragora's rescued son is revealed. Subsequently, she becomes Question's love interest and partner. In the episode "Question Authority", Huntress helps Question uncover a government conspiracy. After Question has been captured and tortured for information, she contacts Superman via Jimmy Olsen's communicator and they rescue Question. In the episode "Panic in the Sky", she defends Question when the Ultimen clones attack the JL satellite (albeit unsuccessfully) until Captain Atom has recovered enough to save them both. Huntress also appears in the episode "Grudge Match", in which she uncovers a plot to use mind-controlled female Justice Leaguers in metahuman cage matches and her rivalry with Black Canary comes to a boil. She plays a significant role in freeing the other heroes and shutting down the organization behind the brawls. At the end of this episode, Black Canary offers to advocate that Huntress be reinstated as a League member, but Huntress graciously turns her offer down. Instead, the two decide to get the aggression out of their systems by going one last round, the winner being determined by 'two falls out of three'.
  • The Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress appeared in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Tara Strong. While this version's real identity is Helena Bertinelli, her costume looks more like the character's Earth-Two incarnation's costume. In addition, she is portrayed as a young college professor rather than a high school teacher. In the episode "Night of the Huntress!", she as well as Batman and Blue Beetle have to stop the gangsters Baby-Face and Mrs. Manface. Blue Beetle develops a crush on her in the episode. Huntress later races for Earth's survival among other heroes and villains in the episode "Death Race to Oblivion!", where she strikes up a rivalry with Catwoman. She fakes her death during the race to help Batman win. During the episode "The Siege of Starro! (Part One)", she is shown as one of the numerous heroes under Starro's mental control. She and Blue Beetle are shown attacking the students at the university, and bringing them under Starro's command through the use of small parasites. She later attacks Captain Marvel, but is easily defeated. She is shown alongside the other heroes in a non-speaking role in the episode "The Siege of Starro! (Part Two)", having been freed from Starro's control at this point. Huntress appeared in the episode "The Mask of Matches Malone!", a Birds of Prey-themed episode written by Gail Simone with Catwoman and Black Canary.
Jessica De Gouw as Helena Bertinelli in Arrow.
  • The Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress appears in the Arrow live-action television series,[17] played by Jessica De Gouw. Introduced in the episodes "Muse of Fire" and "Vendetta", she is depicted as the daughter of high profile mobster Frank Bertinelli. Some time before the show takes place, Helena, who was engaged to a man named Michael, had been negotiating with the FBI to bring her father to justice. She put all her information on a laptop, which her father found. Believing that the laptop belonged to Helena's fiancee, Frank had Michael killed. Since then, Helena has been systematically destroying her father's organization. While trying to kill a corrupt man working for her father, she nearly kills Moira Queen. Oliver tracks Helena and learns of her secret identity as an avenger with her own cause. He starts dating her in order to learn more about her motives. When she uncovers his persona as Arrow they begin a romantic affair. During their brief time together Oliver tries to change her cause, and teach her the difference between justice and revenge making her his protege. She assumes a secret identity, wearing the traditional Huntress costume, although she isn't known under that name. After learning of Oliver's interest in Laurel, believing that she was merely a plaything rather than the more serious relationship she believed they were developing, she turns against him, reveals her identity to her father, departing the city after informing Oliver not to follow her unless he wants her to reveal his identity. Oliver later states that he is sure he will see her again. Helena later appears in the episode "The Huntress Returns". After spending some months away from the country she returns to Starling City after hearing that her father would be in witness protection rather than jail if he testify against other mobs. Helena gets the attention of the police and Oliver after killing her father's lawyer. She later contacts Oliver saying that she would need help against the U.S. Marshals protecting her father, and that if he didn't help she would hurt someone he loves, which later turns out to be Oliver's best friend Tommy. After first tracking down the transport truck for her father, Helena is captured by the police since they knew she would attack her father. After spending some time in jail, Oliver breaks her out and gives her a new identity for her to leave the city. Instead, she steals a crossbow and threatens Oliver's computer hacker friend, Felicity, into finding out where her father's safe house is located. After Helena kills a few U.S. Marshals, Oliver finds her and they fight while her father escapes into the woods. Oliver then shoots an arrow toward Helena, and Helena reveals that while she was away she has been training to catch arrows, thus catching the arrow that was intended to kill her. As a distraction to get away from the police and Oliver, Helena uses her shot gun and shoots Oliver's new girlfriend, McKenna, who is the first cop on the scene. Helena then escapes, vowing that she will not stop until her father is dead. In the season 2 episode "Three Ghosts" Barry Allen is in the Arrow Cave with Diggle and Felicity talking about Arrow's crusade and how them and Oliver has gone up against some nasty bad guys, one he mentions is the Huntress, which suggests that Helena has taken on the persona of Huntress and is currently considered an enemy. She returns in "Birds of Prey" when Arrow and Canary, Sara Lance, help SCPD bring in her father after he returned to collect on old depts. She misdirects Team Arrow by having a college student drive a rental car registered in her finance's name while she rode in with another college student, holding him at gun point. At her father's trial, she ambush's him, but is interrupted by SCPD, the entire trial being a trap, which is unknown to recently welcomed back Laurel Lance. She then has a gang of thugs take hostages when Oliver gets Frank out and Laurel is trapped inside with her. The Canary comes to her sister's aid and fights Helena until Sara's pushed out a window and Laurel is officially captured. She attempts to use their previous meeting from season 1 and her own past tragedies, Tommy Merlyn's death leading to her alcoholism and painkiller addiction and her pushing Oliver and her family away, to help convince Helena to end this. Helena doesn't listen and after Oliver agrees to hand over Frank in exchange for Laurel, she takes Laurel and sneaks out to a dock yard to meet the two and Sara. Frank then realizes what he has turned his daughter into and apologizes for the pain he's caused her and Arrow urges her not to kill him. As she's about to, a renegade SWAT member with a thing against vigilantes opens fire and everyone scatters. Quentin Lance shows up and saves the Arrow from being shot while Canary and Helena fight. Canary almost kills her but Laurel convinces her not to and Helena sees that her father was killed in the crossfire and that she didn't do it and is arrested by Quentin. Oliver later sees her in police custody and she admits that he was right how her father's death wouldn't change anything and that she actually feels even worse. Oliver also admits that he was wrong to think that he could change her when he tried because like her he was also a killer, but now he's not and he tells her that she is not alone. She is then taken to prison and later in "Seeing Red", Oliver brings up how Sara not killing Helena was the right thing to do even though she wanted to kill her when Sara talks on how an out of control Mirakuru drugged Roy Harper has left them no other choice. She defends herself with the fact that Helena didn't have Mirakuru and how Slade Wilson does and that Oliver would have been happy killing him because of the Mirakuru. The show's exectuvie Producer's Marc Guggenheim revealed on his Tumblr page that De Gouw would return as Helena, but the character has been for season 3. She did appear in chapter 13 of Arrow season 2.5.[18]


Video games[edit]

  • The Helena Bertinelli incarnation of Huntress is an unlockable character in Justice League Heroes, voiced by Vanessa Marshall. She can be unlocked by paying 53 orange shields on the menu screen.
  • The Helena Bertinelli incarnation of Huntress appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by Claire Hamilton. She appears both as an NPC in several missions or as a playable character in Legends, a PvP mode where players can use iconic characters in battle simulations. The solo instance "The Hunt" allows players to simulate the confrontation between the Huntress and Santo Cassamento, where she learns that the Cassamento Don is her real father.


The Helena Bertinelli incarnation of Huntress has appeared in two DC Animated Universe spin-off comic books. She appears in Justice League Unlimited #2 and Batman and Robin Adventures #19.


  1. ^ Callahan, Timothy (February 2010). "The Huntress: The Daughter of the Bat and the Cat". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (38): 71–78. 
  3. ^ JLA Secret Files #2
  4. ^ JLA #40
  5. ^ Batman: No Man's Land #0
  6. ^ Legends of the Dark Knight #120
  7. ^ Simone, Gail (w). Birds of Prey 80 (May 2005), DC Comics
  8. ^ Outsiders #8
  9. ^ Outsiders #12
  10. ^ Secret Six (Vol. 2) #7
  11. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #1-2
  12. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #4
  13. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #5
  14. ^ Rodgers, Vaneta (May 14, 2014). "GRAYSON Creators: Super-Spy DICK WILL Carry Gun, Have a Surprise Partner". Newsarama. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  15. ^ Rogers, Vaneta. "SPOILERS! GRAYSON Writers Establish HELENA & DICK's New Status Quo & MIDNIGHTER's Role."10 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014.
  16. ^ Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
  17. ^ Josh Wilding - 8/21/2012 (August 21, 2012-08-21). "Jessica De Gouw Cast As 'The Huntress' In ARROW". Retrieved October 18, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ [1]

External links[edit]