Huntress: Who is The Avenging Archer?

On the Hunt

Huntress:You want justice served? You want vengeance taken? You want honor restored? Then do it yourself. That’s omertà. When blood cries for blood, you answer the call. And you answer it alone.

Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood

A Mafia boss looks over reports from his lieutenants. Drug and firearm sales are up, the police are still taking bribes, and there’s a golden opportunity to enter human trafficking. He smiles until the lights unexpectedly go out. His guards scream in fear and pain as loud cracks reverberate through the air. The noise dies down. All is silent for a moment. The office door flies open.

The boss runs for another exit, but falls as his knee explodes in pain. Looking down, he sees a crossbow bolt stuck in his flesh. The boss tries to draw his gun, but another bolt pierces his shoulder. He screams as a final bolt impales itself in his head. Huntress lowers her weapon, crosses herself, and leaves as sirens approach.

Huntress is one of DC’s most popular antiheroes. She’s been a member of the Justice League, The Outsiders, and the Birds of Prey. So who is she? How did she become a vigilante? Why are there two Huntresses running around? Let’s find out.

Daughter of the Bat: Huntresses’ Backstory

Alfred:Master Bruce, I thought you might want to know; your daughter’s doing rather well. You would be most proud. Most proud indeed.

Birds of Prey, “Devil’s Eyes” Season 1, Episode 13)

Huntress debuted in DC Super Stars #17 in 1977. She was created by Paul Levitz and Joe Stanton, who had been told to make a Batgirl-esque character to join the Justice Society of America. Stanton later revealed that Spider-Man villain Black Cat was a major inspiration for Huntress.

In the parallel universe of Earth-2, Batman and Catwoman finally settled down. They married and had a daughter named Helena Wayne. Helena was a mostly normal child who grew up to be a lawyer. Tragedy struck when Catwoman was murdered. Helena went into the family business and became a vigilante called Huntress to avenge her.

After taking down her mother’s killer, Huntress was invited to join the Justice Society of America. She struck up a friendship with Supergirl knockoff Power Girl and formed a partnership with Robin, who had taken Batman’s place as Gotham City’s guardian. Huntress and Earth-2’s Robin participated in the Crisis on Infinite Earths and were killed during the climax.

Helena Wayne was recently brought back in the series Earth-2. This story focuses on a world where the Justice League died stopping an invasion from the planet Apokolips. Helena was serving as Robin when Batman sacrificed his life to end the war. She became Gotham’s new protector to honor her father, assuming the identity of Huntress, and joining the JSA.

Blood for Blood: Huntresses’ History

Huntress: [entering a bedroom] “Steven Mandragora, been a while. I’ve changed some since we met last, but you haven’t changed. All these years you’ve been building your empire with thievery and murder. [pulls out her crossbow] But it ends tonight.”

Justice League: Unlimited “Double Date” (Season 2, Episode 6)

The second, better known Huntress debuted in Huntress #1 in 1989. She was created by Joey Cavalieri and Joe Stanton, who ditched the Batman connection for a noir style. Her new origin is an ironic twist on Batman’s back story.

Helena Bertinelli was the daughter of Mafioso Franco Bertinelli, leader of Gotham City’s “Five Families.” The other families betrayed the Bertinellis, slaughtering most of the family. An eight year old Helena only survived because Franco hid her in a closet before the gunmen broke into their home

Helena swore vengeance on Gotham’s mafia. She traveled to her ancestral homeland of Sicily to learn the art of assassination. A grown Helena returned to Gotham to eradicate the mafia as the Huntress. This crusade brought her into conflict with Batman, who despised her lethal methods. Despite their issues, Batman came to respect Huntress and sponsored her induction into the Justice League.

While targeting one of the crime families, Huntress learned that Mafia don Cassamento had been connected to her mother. When she confronted Cassamento, she learned that he had an affair with her mother and was her real father. Huntress wanted him dead, but was unwilling to spill her father’s blood. She ultimately used her connections to have Casamento assassinated.

Shortly afterward, she worked with the Birds of Prey on a case. She was a natural fit and joined the team. Oracle and Black Canary hoped they could help Huntress stop killing while Huntress recognized the Birds of Prey would need someone who was willing to cross the line when necessary.

Sniper: Huntresses’ Powers and Personality

[Huntress has just shot a villain in the face]
Black Canary: “Hey, how’d you know about Cheetah’s healing factor?
Huntress: [reloading] “Healing what now?

Birds of Prey #97

Huntress is an expert at martial arts, often supplementing her skills with cheap tricks and improvised weapons. Her combat skills impressed Lady Shiva, arguably DC’s deadliest assassin, enough to earn Huntress the nickname Iron Owl.

While Huntress is good in hand-to-hand combat, she is lethal with her signature crossbow. She specializes in long distance shots, but is also skilled at trick shooting. Huntress has been known to shoot bullets out of the air with her crossbow, which should be nearly impossible.

Huntress is rude and snarky, but ultimately means well. She tries to minimize casualties from her assassinations, and her teammates can usually convince her not to kill. Outside of her vigilante career, Helena Bertinelli is an elementary school teacher, which helps her rein in her more violent persona. Show up for parent-teacher conferences on time unless you want to be perforated.

The Actors Who Play Huntress

Huntress debuted in Legends of the Superheroes, where she was played by Barbara Joyce. A superpowered version of Huntress starred in Birds of Prey, with Dark Angel’s Ashley Scott in the role. Scott reprised her role for a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earth.

Angel’s Amy Acker voiced her in Justice League: Unlimited. Prolific voice actor Tara Strong voiced Huntress in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Dracula’s Jessica De Gouw played Huntress in Arrow.

Huntress makes her film debut in Birds of Prey, where she is played by Fargo’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead. So far, she appears to be the only character other than Harley Quinn using a superhero costume in the film.

Didya get all that?

An anti-hero hunting the most dangerous game

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