Art from the cover to Birds of Prey #91, by Jesus Saiz

The Huntress, (Helena Rosa Bertinelli), is a fictional character in the DC Universe. She is one of several DC characters to bear that name. Helena was also for a time one of the versions of Batgirl and was a longtime member of the Birds of Prey.

Fictional character biography[edit | edit source]

Origin[edit | edit source]

In the 1989 Huntress series, Helena Rosa Bertinelli, who was born into one of Gotham City's most prominent Mafia families, is a withdrawn girl. At the age of six, she was kidnapped and raped by an agent of another Gotham crime family. Her parents, Guido and Carmela, sent her to boarding school and assigned a bodyguard for her protection. After she witnesses the mob-ordered murder of her entire family at the age of nineteen at a wedding, she crusades to put an end to the crime families. She travels, accompanied and trained by her bodyguard Sal, before returning to Gotham to make her debut as the Huntress. This origin story is heavily revised in the 2000 limited series Huntress: Cry for Blood.


Cover to Batman Chronicles #18. Art by Dale Eaglesham.

Batman rarely accepts the Huntress, and usually claims that this disavowal is due to her unpredictable and violent behavior. However, when James 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 Gordon's crippled daughter 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 worked with the female vigilante, and later clears her name in a murder case.

Huntress briefly became involved with the Justice League International when she happened upon a brainwashed Blue Beetle attempting to murder Maxwell Lord. Impressing the League, she was invited to join. However, besides League members helping her on one of her own cases and getting a tour of the group's New York embassy, she never officially joined the team. This would not be her only involvement with the League.

During the League's restructuring following the Rock of Ages crisis, Batman sponsors Huntress' membership in the Justice League,[1] 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 recently, she realised they had over eight hundred centuries to set up a plan that would result in Solaris's defeat in the future-, as well as helping the League defeat foes like Prometheus and encouraging Green Lantern to fight the Queen Bee's hypno-pollen during her invasion of Earth. However, she is later forced to resign after Batman stops her from killing the currently-incapacitated Prometheus.[2]

No Man's Land[edit | edit source]

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.[3] However, 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.[4]

Huntress then ends up 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 him in line. During Christmas Eve, the Joker attacks Petit's compound. Petit is killed and the Huntress stands her ground, barely surviving the attack. Batman and Nightwing intervene in time and Huntress is taken to a field hospital operated by forces who wanted to rebuild Gotham City.

Cry for Blood[edit | edit source]

In 2000, Helena starred in Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood written by Greg Rucka, art by Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty. The six-issue limited series, subsequently collected, revises Huntress' origin such that at the age of eight, she witnesses the murder of her entire family in their home; 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."

Outsiders and Birds of Prey membership[edit | edit source]


Detail from the cover for Birds of Prey #80. Art by Ed Benes.

Huntress is asked to serve to fill in an empty spot of the Outsiders after Arsenal sustains major injuries on a mission.[5]

The Huntress becomes involved with Oracle and Black Canary in the comic series Birds of Prey, establishing a close friendship with Black Canary in the process as their initial storyline featured them going up against a man called Braun who had seduced and left them both.

The Huntress also appeared in the "Hush" storyline that took place in the Batman comics in 2002-2003. In the storyline, Huntress saves an immobilized Batman's life from a criminal gang when he suffers a fractured skull from a fall after his batrope is cut over Crime Alley. Batman thinks to himself how she is, "so much like I was when I started out", and "she's better than she knows..." In the story, Huntress continues her semi-feud with Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow. She eventually returns with a new costume and equipment, the money for which was given by Thomas Elliot. While under the influence of Scarecrow's fear toxin, she fights Catwoman, thinking her to be her old self and wants to be more like the Dark Knight.

In 2006, the narratives of most DC Comics superhero series skipped one year. In the "One Year Later" stories Huntress works with other members of Oracle's group: Black Canary, Lady Blackhawk, Lady Shiva, and Gypsy. With Black Canary's departure from the team (issue #99), in issue #100 Huntress and Lady Blackhawk are Oracle's top two agents, with full access to Oracle as needed (along with Black Canary, should she decide to return). Helena is made the team's field commander.

Recently, Helena was savagely beaten and kidnapped after teaming up with Lady Blackhawk on a mission to stop the aquatic supervillain known as Killer Shark. Killer Shark's accomplice Killer Queen Shark, (who was in reality a brainwashed Lady Blackhawk), then stuffed a bound and gagged Helena into a torpedo hatch in the submarine they were on. Before she could be killed by a torpedo launch, Huntress cut herself free and attacked the villains defeating Killer Shark and eventually returning Lady Blackhawk to normal.

Huntress: Year One[edit | edit source]

Huntress starred in her own six-issue biweekly Year One miniseries from May to July 2008 by Ivory Madison and Cliff Richards[6].

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 her anger and methods will bring with more mainstream heroes, predominately 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. Helena reflects on why some people are compelled to "relive their childhood." Some “can't let go of something they idealize” (a thought juxtaposed with an image of Batman). Others are “addicted to reenacting their childhood trauma,” (Catwoman). Some “want to protect others from the wounds they suffered as children” (Helena's cousin Sal, raised an assassin, now a priest). She states that her compulsion derives from the moment before her family was slain, when she believes (though she was only eight) she could have acted to prevent the slaughter. The story ends with her renouncing the Bertinelli legacy of crime and “baptizing” herself The Huntress.

In other media[edit | edit source]

Animation[edit | edit source]



  • The Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress has appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited voiced by Amy Acker. In "Double Date", Huntress' thirst for revenge against Steven Mandragora (the murderer of her parents) 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 becomes Question's love interest and partner.
    In the subsequent episode "Question Authority", the Huntress helps the Question uncover a government conspiracy against the League. After he has been captured by Cadmus Project and tortured for information, she later rescues him with the help of Superman, whom she contacted by using a communicator taken from Jimmy Olsen. When the Ultimen clones attack the JL satellite ("Panic In The Sky"), she defends The Question (albeit unsuccesfully) until Captain Atom has recovered enough to save them both.
    Huntress also appears in the fifth-season episode "Grudge Match", in which she uncovers a plot to use mind-controlled female 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 League member, but Huntress graciously turns her offer down. Instead, the two decide to get the aggression out of their systems by going one last round, by saying "two falls out of three."

Video games[edit | edit source]

The 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. She can also have her custom character pieces in Lego Batman. She is also an unlockable character in the Nintendo DS version. Huntress is set to appear in the upcoming video game DC Universe Online.

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Huntress has appeared in two DC Animated Universe spin-off comic books. She appears in Justice League Unlimited #2, and Batman and Robin Adventures #19.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. JLA Secret Files #2
  2. JLA #40
  3. Batman: No Man's Land #0
  4. Legends of the Dark Knight #120
  5. Outsiders #8

External links[edit | edit source]

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