Saturday, September 17, 2005

Favorite Female Characters #4: Pre-Crisis Huntress

All Star Comics 70
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
Imagine a hero that is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Blessed with nerves of steel and unerring cunning, this hero could potentially lead the next generation of super heroes. It would be a heady legacy to live up to, but one that could be ultimately rewarding.

Back before Crisis on Infinite Earths, there was such a hero. Her name was Helena Wayne and she was called The Huntress. Helena was this child I just described, and she played a role in the Justice Society of America and Infinity Inc., before Crisis made her origin impossible and she was killed in in that maxi-series.

From the moment she appeared in full view in All Star Comics #69 to save her father Bruce Wayne, Helena caught my attention and curiousity. She was new to the hero business, but was determined to keep her father safe from threats. With an aggressive attitude and a broken heart received from her mother's untimely death in her origin tale DC Super Stars #17, Helena had a lot to prove.

Helena soon became a full fledged member of the JSA, replacing her "kind of brother" Robin. She immediately gelled with Power Girl and the rest of her teammates, and became a favorite of many readers. When All-Star Comics ended and the stories were moved to Adventure Comics, Helena witnessed the death of her father at the hands of an insane criminal. She knew she had big shoes to fill, and swore to continue to fight crime.

When the young upstarts of Infinity Inc. came along, Helena, Power Girl, and Star Spangled Kid all joined together. Her participation was mostly limited to the first 20 issues and after that she was predominantly seen as a permanent back up story in Wonder Woman.

Those tales really swept me into Helena's world. In her secret identity, Helena was a practicing lawyer. She met a man she liked, and all seemed well with the world. Helena fought crime as The Huntress and had a full personal life as well.

Then came Crisis. Helena died along with Robin (Earth 2) trying to save the world. Though it was a neccesity to give the post-Crisis continuity cohesion, to this day it still bugs me. I like the new Huntress character, but she had never reached the dynamics to me that the original Huntress had. There was a lineage and sense of tradition that Helena lived up to, and her courage and training were unparalleled.

Raise a glass to Helena Wayne, the original Huntress. Cross your fingers that someday her back up stories may be published in a trade paperback so that we may all enjoy her once again.

Recommended Reading: DC Super Stars #17, All-Star Comics #69-74, Adventure Comics #461-466, Wonder Woman Vol 1 #275-299.

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