Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)
Huntress on the cover of Birds of Prey #57 (September 2003). Art by Ed Benes.
|First appearance||The Huntress #1 (April 1989)|
|Created by||Joey Cavalieri
(based upon the Helena Wayne character created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton)
|Alter ego||Helena Rosa Bertinelli|
|Team affiliations||Birds of Prey
Robin (Tim Drake)
|Notable aliases||Batgirl, Matron|
• Highly skilled gymnast• Highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat
The Huntress, also known as Helena Rosa Bertinelli, is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Based on the Earth-Two Huntress (Helena Wayne), she is one of several DC characters to bear the Huntress name. She was also, for a time, one of the versions of Batgirl and was a longtime member of the Birds of Prey. 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.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Other versions
- 4 In other media
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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."
Fictional character biography
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was kidnapped as a child (aged 6) and raped by a rival mafia don purely to psychologically torture her father, and is a withdrawn girl.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 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
Huntress starred in her own six-issue biweekly Year One miniseries from May to July 2008 by Ivory Madison and Cliff Richards. 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, predominantly 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
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, 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. She is later forced to resign after Batman stops her from killing Prometheus while he is incapacitated.
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. 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.
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 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 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 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  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[clarification needed] to be her old self and wants to be more like the Dark Knight.[further explanation needed]
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.
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. 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. 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.
The New 52
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.
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 woman to keep readers from confusing her with Helena Wayne of Earth 2 according to Grayson series writer Tim Seeley. 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. 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; however, 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.
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. However, 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.
In the aftermath of Minos's betrayral of Spyral and death at the hands of Agent Zero, Helena became the new Director of Spyral. However, this 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.
At the beginning of the DC Rebirth era, Helena Bertinelli 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. Huntress, Batgirl, and Black Canary cooperate to fight common enemies, there she discovers her mother was in charge of the operation and confronted her only to have her arrested.
In other media
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- 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 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 turns into 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 from Dr. Moon's clutches. In the episode "Flashpoint", Huntress rescues Question while Superman fights off Captain Atom and she later has a moment with her injured love interest. In the episode "Panic in the Sky", Huntress 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 Roulette's 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 Justice League member, but Huntress graciously turns her rival 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'.
- This version also appeared in two DC Animated Universe spin-off comic books. She appears in Justice League Unlimited #2 and Batman and Robin Adventures #19.
- The Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Tara Strong. While this version's real identity is Helena Bertinelli, her costume resembles the Earth-Two incarnation's costume, and is portrayed as a young college professor rather than a high school teacher. In the episode "Night of the Huntress!", she helps Batman and Blue Beetle 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.
- The Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress appears in the Arrow live-action television series, 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 fiancée, 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 debts. She misdirects Team Arrow by having a college student drive a rental car registered in her fiancée'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 executive Producer's Marc Guggenheim revealed on his Tumblr page that De Gouw would return as Helena, but the character has not appeared in season 3 nor season 4. She did appear in chapter 13 of Arrow season 2.5.
- An alternate version of Huntress made a cameo appearance as one of Superwoman's lieutenants in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.
- 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 can have her custom character pieces in Lego Batman: The Video Game. She is also an unlockable character in the game's Nintendo DS version.
- 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 is mentioned by Vicki Vale in Batman: Arkham City while talking to Mayor Sharp in an interview.
- The Helena Bertinelli incarnation of Huntress appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
- The Arrow version of Huntress appears via downloadable content as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- The Helena Bertinelli incarnation of Huntress is featured in Batman: Arkham Knight on an instant message chat box on the top floor of the Clock tower.
- Grayson (Vol. 1) #1
- Callahan, Timothy (February 2010). "The Huntress: The Daughter of the Bat and the Cat". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (38): 71–78.
- Steve Ekstrom IVORY MADISON: TALKING ABOUT HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE NEWSARAMA March 10, 2008 http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=149603
- JLA Secret Files #2
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- Batman: No Man's Land #0
- Legends of the Dark Knight #120
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- Outsiders #8
- Outsiders #12
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- Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #1-2
- Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #4
- Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #5
- Rodgers, Vaneta (May 14, 2014). "GRAYSON Creators: Super-Spy DICK WILL Carry Gun, Have a Surprise Partner". Newsarama. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
- Rogers, Vaneta. "SPOILERS! GRAYSON Writers Establish HELENA & DICK's New Status Quo & MIDNIGHTER's Role."10 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. Newsarama.com. http://www.newsarama.com/21536-spoilers-grayson-writers-establish-helena-dick-s-new-status-quo-talks-that-surprise-cast-member.html
- Nightwing (Vol. 2) #30
- Grayson (Vol. 1) #1-4, Annual #1; Secret Origins #8
- Grayson (Vol. 1) 5-8
- McDonald, Joshua (March 17, 2015). "June 2015 Solicitations". Batman-News. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Rebirth #1
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
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