You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
Rosie Knight mentioned a bunch of different things when she explained No Man’s Land – and one of them was “Huntress”. I imagine Huntress is a very easy character to explain, without much of a history, and probably a really coherent backstory. Nevertheless it always helps to be careful – and that’s why today we’re bringing in Huntress expert Diane Darcy to explain it all!
So! I hear that Huntress really made a big name for herself during No Man’s Land. But… who is she, and what’s her deal? It’s not complicated, is it?
Diane Darcy: The Huntress, actually, does have a complicated history. Prior to the more famous incarnations of the Huntress — Helena Wayne, then later Helena Bertinelli — there was a Golden Age villain that appeared in Sensation Comics #68 in 1947 called Paula Brooks who used ‘the Huntress’ as her nom de guerre. This Huntress was created by Mort Meskin. This character is also the same Paula Brooks who later married the Sportsmaster and had a daughter with him named Artemis Crock. Post-Crisis, Paula would go on to use the name Tigress, probably in an effort by DC to not confuse her with the more heroic Huntress.
The more heroic Huntress was created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton in 1977, and she made her first comic appearance in All-Star Comics #69. The Huntress also first made a name for herself when she debuted as Helena Wayne — the daughter of the Earth-2 versions of Batman and Catwoman — in DC Super-Stars #17 that same year. The Huntress then became a regular in Justice Society and Justice League stories.
Within a year of her debut, the Huntress proved popular enough to get her own solo series as a feature in Batman Family, then later as a backup feature in Wonder Woman. Her solo stories revealed Helena Wayne to be a lawyer by day and the Huntress by night. Helena Wayne, at one point, even accepted a challenge to ‘fight to the death’ for the title of ‘The Huntress’ from Paula Brooks early in her career. By 1985, DC was preparing to launch Helena Wayne into her own solo title before Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted the DC Multiverse into a single shared universe. This event also resulted in Helena Wayne’s death.
Oh boy. So there have been several other people who’ve claimed the role of Huntress?
Darcy: Post-Crisis, the Huntress was rebooted in 1989 by Joey Cavalieri as Helena Bertinelli. In contrast with the previous Helena Wayne incarnation, Helena Bertinelli had no ties to Batman, Catwoman, nor the Justice Society as she was now born into an Italian-American crime family with her father being a powerful crime boss. It took the brutal massacre of her family by a rival crime family to motivate Helena Bertinelli into becoming the Huntress, which makes her origin similar to that of Helena Wayne’s. (Wayne originally became the Huntress to avenge her mother’s death, then later her father’s.)
With her new origin story in place, The Huntress was then launched into her first solo title in 1989 where she debuted as Helena Bertinelli. However, the book was not an initial success because fans at the time were still attached to the original Helena Wayne version of the Huntress. It would not be until a decade later that the Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress would become a fan favourite character as a result of her inclusion in the Batman storyline ‘No Man’s Land’ by Greg Rucka because of her very layered portrayal in that story.
What’s Helena Bertinelli up to nowadays? Is she still Huntress?
Darcy: In ‘No Man’s Land’, Helena Bertinelli attempted to keep the Batman legacy alive in Gotham during Bruce’s absence. Even after Bruce humiliated her and confiscated her bat suit (that she designed herself), she still sought to protect Gotham’s citizens at her own personal expense, even risking her own life in the process. Greg Rucka would then later reboot her origin story in the miniseries Batman: Cry for Blood, which became the new foundation that informed Helena Bertinelli’s later portrayals. Bertinelli especially found success as a now iconic member of the Birds of Prey when writer Gail Simone decided to use her in that title in 2003.
After DC rebooted the DC Universe again in 2011, the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli Huntress was retconned back into her original Helena Wayne incarnation. With her Earth-2 origin reinstated, Helena Wayne was once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman and once again tied to a new version of the Justice Society. For a time, Helena Wayne operated as the main Earth Huntress before returning to her native world of Earth-2. The same year Helena Wayne returned to Earth-2 (2014) writers Tom King and Tim Seeley created a new version of Helena Bertinelli as an agent of Spyral in their hit series Grayson.
When DC relaunched their line with DC Universe Rebirth in 2016, the new version of Helena Bertinelli that debuted in 2014 became the Huntress in the Rebirth relaunch of Birds of Prey. Since then, Helena Bertinelli has made guest appearances in Batman Family books — including the main Batman title — but has for the most part not made any major comics appearances outside of the Birds of Prey titles.
The Huntress is currently appearing in Dark Nights: Death Metal, and DC has yet to reveal their plans for the Huntress post-Death Metal. If the rumours of DC moving a way from a single continuity in favour of a DC Omniverse is true, it’s possible we might get both the Helena Wayne and Helena Bertinelli versions of the Huntress back in 2021…
Thanks so much Diane! That covers off the Huntress for us! Now it’s on to the next superheroine running around Gotham – let’s get to it!!
Diane Darcy is a Latinx blogger and podcaster primarily known for running the Helena Wayne Huntress website, as well as being a co-host on the Huntress Podcast. Diane’s other interests include manga and anime, horror and sci-fi genre stories, music, travel, photography, web and graphic design, and audio production. You can find Diane on Twitter here!