Real Name: Helena Bertinelli
Voiced by Amy Acker
The daughter of mob boss Franco Bertinelli, young Helena did not understand until years later what business her father was involved in, only that he was a man who commanded both fear and respect. However, this was not to last, as her parents were murdered by Steven Mandragora, their super-strong bodyguard, as she looked on from a closet. Permanently altered by that event, she swore revenge and—inspired by vigilantes such as the Batman—she trained in martial arts and weaponry—particularly a handheld crossbow—and, eventually, donned the costume of the Huntress to avenge her parent's deaths.
Inducted into the Justice League during their recent expansion, her membership was later revoked following her attempted murder of Mandragora, who was in state custody while awaiting trial. Infuriated that the League would protect a killer, she teamed up with the Question, who helped her track him down just as he was reunited with his recently-kidnapped son. Unwilling to kill the child's father before his eyes as Mandragora did to her years before, she allowed him to be taken back into custody. Today she fights crime without the aid of the Justice League, although she teams up frequently with the Question, who she hooked up with following their initial alliance.
Bruce Timm on the Huntress #1 (circa 1999): "For a while there, we were toying with the idea of bringing in a Batgirl-type of character [onto Batman Beyond]. We were getting a lot of pressure from lots of different areas, saying, ‘You have to do a new Batgirl.' We were getting pressure from different corners to do that, and we're not really against the idea, [but] we just don't want to have a recurring Batgirl character as much as the old Batman show had. We don't want to have someone who teams up with him every episode. But we were talking about doing an updated version of the Huntress, so that may happen (courtesy of [website name removed]).”
Bruce Timm on the Huntress #2 (circa 1999): "The only established DC hero that will probably show up in Batman Beyond is the Huntress, just because we think she's an interesting character and we kind of want to do another female crime-fighter along the lines of Batgirl, but we didn't want to just do 'Batgirl Beyond.' We thought the Huntress would be a natural. We're actually working on a story for that right now, so the Huntress will probably be on Batman Beyond (courtesy of The Critical Eye).”
Gail Simone on Huntress #1: “The thing about Huntress that I like is, with her, the ‘attitude’ thing that so many characters have isn’t just a pose. Under the right circumstances, she’ll not only cross the line, she’ll put a crossbow bolt through it (courtesy of The Pulse).”
Gail Simone on Huntress #2: "It's wonderful to write Huntress in any media. I love that she'll hug a baby then put a crossbow bolt through a kidnapper's leg (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine)."
Grant Morrison on Huntress (circa 1998): "She's sort of a fiery Italian woman; the more I think of her in those terms, the more interesting interplay I get between her and Batman. He's pretty much said the reason she's in the JLA is so he can keep an eye on her and guide her development. [...] That's what Batman wants and she doesn't want him to feel that he's getting away with it. But he is, and that's what's creating a really interesting tension between those characters [...] he's basically forced her to become a better superhero (courtesy of Wizard Magazine)."
Bruce Timm on casting Amy Acker:
“I’m as guilty of type-casting as anyone, and just naturally filed
Amy [Acker] away in my brain-file as ‘Fred’ [from Joss Whedon’s Angel],
but when I saw how awesome she was as
Huntress Image | Birds of Prey Image
"I've got special arrows too; the pointy kind that'll go right through you."
Huntress (to Steven Mandragora) in "Double Date"
With each entry written for the Watchtower, it grows increasingly tedious to continue to reiterate how the Crisis on Infinite Earths has complicated the histories of DC Comics' stable of characters. It goes without saying that every DC character who can trace their origins to a date earlier than 1985 was effected by this continuity-altering event, from icons like Superman and Wonder Woman all the way down the list to guys like Bat-Mite and Ambush Bug. However, seldom are the after-effects of Crisis as tragic they were in the case of Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante better known as the Huntress. This is largely due to the fact that, before the Crisis, the Huntress' true identity was not Helena Bertinelli, but Helena Wayne.
In her initial incarnation, the Huntress—who made her first appearance in All-Star
Comics #69 (November / December 1978)—was the daughter of the Earth-2
Batman and Catwoman (there was an earlier Huntress,
who served as an enemy of the Golden Age Wildcat, but she is unrelated to this
version). As it turns
out, the Golden Age versions of the characters had settled down in their old age,
gave up their costumes (and, in Catwoman’s case, crime), and wed; eventually
having a daughter. Young Helena,
while not being particularly groomed for a life as vigilante, was still trained by
her parents in their former professions. However,
fate would intervene, as
Although her existence was negated—her prior incarnation was impossible without a Golden Age Batman and Catwoman—DC Comics found a way to make use of the identity, if not the character itself. So, much like Power Girl, Fury, and others, the Huntress was shoehorned into the new DC Universe continuity with a new origin that lacked the heritage of her pre-Crisis incarnation. Thus, the new Huntress debuted in Huntress Vol. 1 #1 (April 1989) as Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a Mafia crime boss. The sole survivor of a mob hit that murdered her entire family, Helena sought revenge and, with the help of her bodyguard, who trained her in martial arts and a variety of weapons, she became the Huntress to seek out the man responsible for the act—a Mafioso named Mandragora. Since then, she has been absorbed into the Batman family of characters, although Batman himself disapproves of her continued activities and would love nothing more than to have her retire. This dynamic—in which Batman has rejected her, leading to the Huntress' continual attempts to prove herself to him as a competent hero—resonates with their pre-Crisis relationship, as though the Huntress is subconsciously trying to prove herself to her “father.”
relationship between the Huntress and Batman’s circle of confidants has only
grown more complicated as the years have passed.
Once such complication occurred in the Nightwing
/ Huntress miniseries (May-August 1998), where the duo had a one-night stand
during a shared case; an act that reeks of near-incest when one considers that
Dick Grayson is Bruce Wayne’s adopted son. Another
occurred during the recent No Man’s Land
story arc, where
The Huntress is a character in flux, and she has been since Crisis tore her world apart. Many attempts have been made to pin her down, but none have truly succeeded. She’s clearly the bad girl in Batman’s family, but her character remains undefined, and she often seems to be included in storylines (such as Loeb and Lee’s recent Hush) simply because she looks great in a skimpy outfit. Perhaps the character is troubled by [comic fans’ collective] memory that she was once the Batman’s daughter—and perhaps there’s a certain pain in her character that comes from a sense that she’s been abandoned by him.In terms of the DCAU, the Huntress has had a few noteworthy false starts; for instance, she never appeared on BTAS or TNBA (she did, however, appear in The Batman & Robin Adventures #19; June 1997) and a planned appearance on Batman Beyond never materialized (which, considering her parentage, would have made for an interesting plotline). In fact, prior to Justice League Unlimited, her only noteworthy appearance in other media was as an ongoing character in the 2002 series Birds of Prey (promotional image seen here), where she was (again!) the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, but teamed up with Oracle and Black Canary, as her post-Crisis incarnation currently is. Fortunately, this series only lasted one season, which freed up the Huntress' rights for Unlimited.
Making her debut amongst the crowd scenes of "Initiation," the Huntress (seen here) did little in the first season, appearing mainly in group shots, such as the mission in "Dark Heart." This changed—along with her outfit, which now resembles the Jim Lee-designed costume from the recent Hush arc—in the latter half of the second season, where her origins were delved into, and a romance with the Question (another of her former lovers in the comics) was kicked off following their team-up in "Double Date." Currently an ex-League member (she was fired following her attempted murder of Steven Mandragora) it is unknown whether she will return for the next season, or whether or not she will encounter the DCAU's version of the Dark Knight. Although it seems as though the creative team is trying to define her character as one independent of Batman—arguably a first for the character—the fan in me would still like to see such an encounter before the end of Unlimited. However, should this team-up actually happen, one can only hope that this Batman will look a little kinder upon his long-lost daughter, and that they can achieve an understanding that transcends their shared history.
Images courtesy of Toon Zone, Comic Art Fans, DC Comics, and Birds of Prey Online.
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