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 & Bob Layton)
In-story information
Alter ego Helena Rosa Bertinelli
Team affiliations Birds of Prey
Batman Family
Justice League
Outsiders
Checkmate
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.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Origin[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was kidnapped as a child (aged 6) and raped by a rival mafia don purely to psychologically torture her father, and is a withdrawn girl.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.[1] 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,[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.

Outsiders and Birds of Prey membership[edit]

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

Huntress is asked to serve to fill in an empty spot of the Outsiders after Arsenal sustains major injuries on a mission.[6]

The 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.

The 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.

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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.

Other versions[edit]

Flashpoint[edit]

In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Huntress joined with the Amazons' Furies.[11]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Justice League Unlimited[edit]

Huntress, as she appears in Justice League Unlimited.

The Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress has appeared in Justice League Unlimited voiced by Amy Acker. In the episode "Double Date", Huntress's 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 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 the Question uncover a government conspiracy against the League. After he has been captured by Project Cadmus and tortured for information, she later rescues him with the help of Superman, whom she contacted by using a communicator taken from Jimmy Olsen. 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 third season episode "Grudge Match", in which she uncovers a plot to use mind-controlled female 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".

Batman: The Brave and the Bold[edit]

Huntress appeared in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Tara Strong. In the episode "Night of the Huntress!", she, Batman and Blue Beetle have to stop the gangster Baby-Face and his wife Mrs. Manface. Blue Beetle develops a crush on her in the episode. While this version's real identity is that of Helena Bertinelli, her costume looks more like the costume worn by the Earth-Two Huntress. In addition, she is portrayed as a young college professor rather than a high school teacher. 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 the mental control of Starro. 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.

Arrow[edit]

Jessica De Gouw as Helena Bertinelli in Arrow

In the Arrow episodes "Muse of Fire" and "Vendetta"[12] Jessica De Gouw plays Helena Bertinelli. She is the daughter of Frank Bertinelli, a high profile mobster. 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 return in the episode titled Birds of Prey.[13] 

Film[edit]

An alternate version of Huntress made a cameo appearance as one of Superwoman's lieutenants in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

Video games[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steve Ekstrom IVORY MADISON: TALKING ABOUT HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE NEWSARAMA March 10, 2008 http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=149603
  2. ^ JLA Secret Files #2
  3. ^ JLA #40
  4. ^ Batman: No Man's Land #0
  5. ^ Legends of the Dark Knight #120
  6. ^ Outsiders #8
  7. ^ Secret Six (Vol. 2) #7
  8. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #1-2
  9. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #4
  10. ^ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #5
  11. ^ Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
  12. ^ Josh Wilding - 8/21/2012 (August 21, 2012-08-21). "Jessica De Gouw Cast As 'The Huntress' In ARROW". Comicbookmovie.com. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  13. ^ Natalie Abrams - 1/27/2014 (2014-01-27). "Arrow Exclusive: The Huntress Returns for "Birds of Prey" Episode!". TV Guide. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]