July 13, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #31: The Huntress

Offhand, I could not tell you which Huntress is in this picture.
Offhand, I could not tell you which Huntress is in this picture.

Superheroes, for the most part, don’t age.  Marvel and DC have their superhero universes set in some sort of sliding scale timeline, where almost everything that’s happened since the superhero line was created somehow only occurred over a ten to twelve year period.  That means that even though there are Fantastic Four comics depicting Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in the trenches of World War II, today neither of those gentlemen are that old.  Aside from a handful of World War II era heroes and villains who have managed to stay active and keep their ties to the war (Captain America, the original Justice Society), or even the rarer other type (Frank Castle is a Vietnam vet), heroes are pulled from eras they existed in to avoid explaining how Batman swings through the streets of Gotham without a walker.

But there are ways to allow heroes to age, and one of them DC used to have was Earth-2.  Originally the home of the Justice Society of America, Earth-2 was the place where the Golden Age heroes did their thing.  And while none of them quite reached the state we’d consider “elderly,” some of them did marry and have children.  One of them was the Earth-2 Batman, and he had a daughter, and oh man, is this one messed up history.

To start, the Earth-2 Batman, like the Earth-2 Superman, Wonder Woman, and a few others that have been around since the 40s without gaining a new identity, was supposed to be the Golden Age version of that character.  These versions wore what looked more like their original costumes, and in most cases had some gray hair but otherwise looked like they were in fantastic shape for men and women their age.  And while some teenage sidekicks were eventually allowed to hit their 20s, their Earth-1 mentors never did.

Since Batman could age, he could also do other things his Earth-1 counterpart would never be allowed to do:  marry and have kids.  So, Earth-2 Batman married Selina “Catwoman” Kyle and they had a daughter, Helena Wayne.  Helena eventually took the costumed role of the Huntress, a purple clad caped woman who had a few traits of both parents, who subsequently did another thing their Earth-1 counterparts couldn’t do:  die and stay dead.

She is sooooo grounded.
She is sooooo grounded.

The Crisis on Infinite Earths would put an end to her.  One of the things the Crisis did was eliminate doubles.  There was a Lex Luthor on Earth-1, 2, and 3.  Luthor of Earth-1 got to live.  Luthor of Earth-3 was the sole hero on his Earth and he died when his universe ended.  Luthor of Earth-2 tried challenging Luthor of Earth-1 over which of them should be in charge of the villain team, so he was vaporized by Brainiac.  Wonder Woman and Superman of Earth-2 went away.  Various other doubles died here and there.  Usually it was the Earth-2 version, leaving the more popular Earth-1 version alive and well, with the exception of Supergirl and Power Girl.

There was no double for the Huntress…but when her already dead parents ceased to exist in the new combined Earths timeline, the writing was on the wall and she died alongside Robin of Earth-2 and Teen Titan Kole.

The thing was, though, many concepts from the pre-Crisis period, no matter how ridiculous, eventually found a way into the post-Crisis DCU.  Huntress was one such concept, but she couldn’t be Batman’s daughter.  So, instead, they made her a brand new character.

This time around the Huntress was Helena Bertinelli.  Like Batman, Helena watched helplessly as a child as her parents were murdered in front of her.  Unlike Batman, her parents were hardly pillars of the community.  This Helena’s father was a mafia boss.  Helena swore to get back at the men who had her parents killed, and likewise to bring down organized crime in her hometown of Gotham City.

You’d think Batman would be behind all this, but he actually seemed to not like her very much.  Batman would insist she was too violent or angry at times.  That seemed odd.  True, she did carry a crossbow as a weapon, and didn’t seem afraid to at least consider lethal force, but she got along well with both Dick Grayson and Tim Drake.  Actually, she got along really well with Dick Grayson a couple times, if you know what I mean.

Watson does.
Watson does.

The best explanation ever given as to why Bruce disapproved of this Helena may come from a side chat he had once, where he pointed out it wasn’t so much her methods as the fact she reminded him of Barbara Gordon…and this was after Barbara had been shot and paralyzed by the Joker in the famous Killing Joke storyline.  His disapproval was more to avoid seeing another young woman get severely killed or injured while swinging around Gotham in a cape.

That seems a bit sexist when you consider all the Robins probably didn’t have that issue.

More obviously sexist...whoever designed this incredibly impractical outfit.
More obviously sexist…whoever designed this incredibly impractical outfit.  Seriously, that look makes no sense.

It also really doesn’t explain how that Huntress got onto the Justice League while Grant Morrison was writing it.  Morrison’s Batman said it was his way of giving Huntress one chance to prove herself, but she ultimately blew it when she almost took a helpless Prometheus’ head off with a pointblank crossbow bolt.  Morrison’s Justice League run was often brilliant, and his team choices were generally awesome, but I never got how she was allowed on the team at any point.  Putting her on the Birds of Prey team made sense.  That all female team, led by Barbara Gordon, worked well and she played well off both Gordon and Black Canary.  But why Batman, who disapproved of her, put her on the JLA never made a whit of sense.

Oh, by the way…Huntress’ day job?  Elementary school teacher.  Chew on that for a bit.

Well, continuity giveth and taketh away.  Flashpoint revived the original Huntress, Helena Wayne, of a brand new Earth-2 where the Justice Society was younger again.  This time around she was originally Robin and then adopted the Huntress role.

Helena Bertinelli?  Apparently, she’s a secret agent in the New 52 along side former Nightwing Dick Grayson.

My guess is we’ll have a new Huntress every twenty to thirty years or so.  Stick around for Huntress 2035, Helena Kent.