Subject 07: Huntress AKA: Helena Bertinelli/Wayne
With the release of Rebirth Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1, now's as good a time as any to talk about Huntress. There have “technically” been 4 different women to use the name Huntress in the DC Comics Universe.
Paula Brooks -Golden Age
Helena Wayne -Bronze Age/New 52/Earth 2
Helena Bertinelli – Post Crisis/Rebirth
Charlie Gage Radcliffe ..sigh… she’s got identity crisis worse than Stephanie Brown.
Let's stick with the only two that really matter, the Helena’s. In order to understand Bertinelli, I'll need to go over Helena Wayne's appearances first.
Helena Wayne Earth 2 / New 52 / Pre-Crisis Huntress / Daughter of Earth 2's Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Helena Wayne has about 320 comic appearances since 1977.
All-Star Comics (1977) #69 – First Appearance, Cliffhanger Cameo last page. First Cover appearance, cameo as a small head.
DC Superstars (1977) #17 – First Full and Origin, Second Cover appearance. Origin includes death of her Mother. This is a Key book for Helena Wayne. Through my research I've found that Justice Society #69 and All Star Secret Origins #17 came out the exact same day. The image of Huntress on the cover is from a pitch for a revised version of Bat-girl. As the story goes, Stanton was inspired by the design for the Black Cat, NO, not Marvel's Felicia Hardy but the one from the 1940's. During a meeting Joe Orlando refined the drawing and Stanton finished it. That's how the cover came to be.
All-Star Comics (1977) #70 -Second Full appearance, third Cover appearance. It picks up from the cliffhanger in Justice Society #69.
Huntress (2011) #1 – First New 52 appearance. The book was cancelled and then turned into the Huntress Power Girl Worlds Finest title. It's written by Paul Levitz who is one of the co-creators of Helena Wayne Huntress and was editor on All Star Comics Super Squad #58, which is the first appearance of Karen Starr, aka Power Girl!
Now that we've got Helena Wayne out of the way, let's get to Bertinelli, the unstable one.
Helena Bertinelli is the post Post Crisis Huntress… Guess I should say the First Crisis, since DC's had a few of those. She’s the Rebirth version of Huntress for the Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series. Bertinelli is probably the better known version of Huntress, she’s the version adapted for the Arrow TV series and Justice League Unlimited Animated Series. The first major JLU episode Huntress appearance in was written by Gail Simone, Double Date.
One of the things we’ve seen with Rebirth is a number of call backs to characters and much older storylines. It’s not beyond reason that there will be links back to any number of “pre 52” Helena Bertinelli appearances. Speculators might want to look at the Birds of Prey issues #56-108. You might be wondering why not issue #1?
Well, since the very first Birds of Prey appearance is Showcase 96 #3, that kinda makes BoP#1 less important. To be completely honest, many BoP fans feel the series starts at #56. Which is the start of Gail Simone and artist Ed Benes run. Sadly, the majority of Simone’s run is available in your nearest Local Comic Shop's dollar bin. I should also mention there is one issue that's a little pricey, Birds of Prey #76, is the first appearance of Black Alice.
Jim Lee redesigned Huntress and she appeared a few times during the Batman Hush story arc. This would be the look for her throughout the Justice League Unlimited Animated TV Series as well as the Birds of Prey comics. Artist later in the BoP run just did whatever they wanted for the Huntress costume, this only adds to the confusion. The exposed stomach and shorts was a striking look… Call me sexest, I don't care. However, Wayne's returns would have been easier to distinguish had they kept Bertinelli costume design consistent throughout the series.
Huntress (1989) #1 – First appearance, not difficult to track down, dollar bin fodder. What is interesting is that Joe Stanton was the artist on the series and is also co-creator of the Helena Wayne version of the characters as mention above.
Detective Comics #652 and #653 – two part story. She’s in these, I don’t know if i’d call them key. I think there’s probably better books out there for Huntress/Bertinelli fans to spec on. I'm partial to Batman: Streets of Gotham #5-6 myself.
I going to detour into Batgirl Country. Helena Bertinelli was the 3rd Batgirl and things really go sideways for her during the Batman: No Man’s Land crossover. Understandable since she was doing double duty through most of the crossover.
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83 (1999) – First appearance as Batgirl, full appearance not revealed to be Batgirl yet. It seemed pretty obvious as the storyline progresses, but it isn't explicit. There's a few covers during the arc that all but spell out Helena is Batgirl. She's also still Huntress too… Which is just odd. I guess it was to throw readers off.
Detective Comics #737 – Harley Quinn vs Huntress. This book is already on people's radar since it’s the 3rd in continuity appearance of Harley. It's also Harley's second in continuity cover appearance. It’s a full appearance and her first ever meeting with the Huntress. Most importantly, they fight. As you know by now, any issue where two characters actually do fight is key to me.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120 – Revealed to be the Batgirl and fired in the same issue! I've covered this issue pretty thoroughly in the Cassandra Cain article a few weeks ago.
Detective Comics #741 – Huntress almost dies but get’s some well deserved respect from Batman… Finally! Also, another early but brief Harley appearance. Huntress's journey that started in BSotB#83 comes to end, and a new chapter will begin.
Batman #608- First new redesign for Huntress and first time Jim Lee draws her. While Batman #608 is a popular book for other reason, I think it’s often over-looked by Huntress fans. Helena doesn’t appear on the cover so it's possible most fans are unaware of it.
Batman #617 – Huntress vs Catwoman, nuff said.
Batman #619 – Huntress vs Catwoman round 2… it’s more of a cameo really.
Birds of Prey #57 – Helena Bertinelli joins the Birds of Prey… sorta. Over the years the BoP have had a lot of rotating members. This is where Huntress gets the call from Oracle for help… and let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy call for Barbara to make. It’s also the second issue of writer Gail Simone definitive Birds of Prey run.
Nightwing #30 – Helena Bertinelli returns. Early, if not the first “New 52” Helena Bertinelli appearance, just not as the Huntress. At this point Helena Wayne is using the name.
Grayson Annual #1 – Helena Bertinelli latest origin. Rewriting Bertinelli's past seems to happen several times since her creation. You could go crazy trying to find all the issues dealing with her assorted past origins and retelling.
She also makes many appearances throughout the New 52 Grayson series. Just not as Huntress.
This brings us today's Rebirth Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series.
There's over 1000 appearances between the two Helena's. Bertinelli has almost 800 comic appearances by herself. Both have some romantic involvement with a version of Dick Grayson and a burning desire to avenge. Where they differ is Bertinelli is the hot tempered and Wayne is more cool and collected… Well except that one time Helena Wayne jumped the gun messing with a mother box and it blew up in her face.
Hopefully this helps you navigate the appearance a little better, to find the issues with the version of the Huntress you’re looking for. As always, just hitting the high points here. What you ultimately invest/buy is entirely up to you.
Till Next Week, #allhuntressesmatter