Helena Bertinelli: The "Interesting Life", The Unfair Loss

As many of you know, Helena Wayne recently bid adieu to her "alias" Helena Bertinelli. And in case you didn't know, here's how it went down....

To me, this is an absolute tragedy and, in a sense, a travesty as well considering how cavalierly she's treated. "She served me well", "I only borrowed her", and "Shame to waste an interesting life" all were lines that dug pretty deeply into any Helena Bertinelli fan. I believe the implication behind what Wayne is saying is that she took her own life seeing as how the only person who could effectively "waste" a life would be the person in possession of it. Regardless, us Bertinelli fans were both deceived and blindsided by this development as it looked as though with Huntress solo series DC was re-realizing the versatility and potential of Bertinelli. No such luck. To be fair, Wayne did come before Bertinelli but that's just about where all the fairness ends as far as I'm concerned.

Here's my main gripe: I just don't really think if it were to come down to Bertinelli vs Wayne (as far as character is concerned) there would be any good argument for choosing Wayne over Bertinelli. It's not that I hate Wayne per se, I just don't know how you could throw away Helena Bertinelli in favor of her. The line about wasting an interesting life is both an understatement and perhaps the truest thing a comic book character could say in unintentionally breaking the fourth wall. Bertinelli had a fascinating life if you ask me.

First, there's her origin story. There are more orphans in the superhero line of work than there are in the cast of Oliver Twist. It's quite generic for superheroes to be motivated or at least semi-motivated by the death of a parent to fight injustice. This is, in a sense, how Helena gets started as well. However, what sets Helena Bertinelli apart is this...

Often times a hero or protagonist will have an "innocence lost" arc which becomes a formative point in their journey towards becoming hero. Not so for Helena! She was never actually given a chance at innocence, having to witness her father beat her mother routinely in between shady dealings with the mafioso. Unlike her peers, Helena wanted her father to die, I've never really seen this before in an origin story ever. The next panels after the above depict her entire family getting gunned down. This can only mean further angst, Helena expresses her wishes that her father would perish and within minutes it is done but with uhm...excessive results given her mother and brother also die. This explains her religiosity later on given that this must've stirred up a fair amount of guilt in poor Helena. Nonetheless, this moment alone is reason enough for why Helena was not your average heroine. It's a compelling spin on what could've easily been a generic, tired superhero cliche.

But the childhood trauma doesn't stop there! Helena later discovers her surviving that incident was an accident and not only was her survival an accident but she herself was an "accident" according to her biological father. Santo Cassamento was from a rival mafia family which ended up really complicating that whole extramarital affair he was having with Helena's mother, Maria. Santo explains this in "A Cry For Blood"....

Just when you thought it couldn't get more painful, it's exponentially more devastating. As it turns out, her scumbag father was not really her father but instead another scumbag who was responsible for her whole family's demise and really resents her being alive to tell the tale. It's unimaginably tragic and it really gives you insight into the rage that motivates Helena. She's not a monster or a malcontent or simply just hothead but a person who's never known any kind of tenderness. Her whole life has been at the mercy of violence and chaos and her only solution to the torment of it's influence is to fight fire with fire...and boy does she ever....

This is another thing I love about Helena, she's often more of a vigilante. She's not against using guns, bats, and anything else to get her point across which isn't something you'll often see in female comicbook characters. Mystique had a great stint as an anti-hero in her solo series but of course she just had to turn back to villainy. Wolverine or Deadpool or Jason Todd can walk the line but for whatever reason it's much harder for women. You either have to be loveable or damnable. Speaking of damnation and anti-heroics, one defining moment for Helena that I was very fond of was when she "silenced" Santo for good via her uncle Tomaso. Her love interest at the time, the Question, wasn't very keen on this...

This a moment I just love. It's cropped out but what Helena is doing on the last panel is tossing her cross necklace into the ocean off the docks. It's the perfect ending to an arc that so beautifully describes the Huntress ("A Cry For Blood") because she's among the most sensitive Batman characters, the most emotional, and as a result she is one of the most flawed. She's driven by a lot of the same impulses that others in her profession are, the only difference between her and them is that she'll often take the risks they won't. How many times have we seen one character lecture another about not acting upon vengeful motivations which leads to the protagonist or foil to ultimately succumb to their sense of ethics? Helena just killed her enemy and bypassed the morality discussion. I like it, it's definitely not model behavior but you understand her motivation. It's deeply rooted in a trauma no one can understand. She's unconventional, her morals are flexible but her conscience and her own self-awareness prevail which humanizes her.

Speaking of moral authority, obviously the Huntress couldn't go too far without encountering ole grumpy Bats. And, believe you me, that was a strong and tempestuous dynamic...

This was the very first thing that attracted me to Helena way back in the "No Man's Land" days, she was really never afraid of Batman. There's really nothing better than an insubordinate, defiant sidekick though, right? Just look at Jason Todd! One thing that really doesn't uhm....resonate with me about Batman lately is his sidekick situation. We've got an orphanage of little boys, scrapping in the streets just asking for murderin' wherein Batman would be plagued with guilt for endangering them to start with. He's got TWO kids now, an adult daughter and a son as well...is it just me or does it elude anyone else that Batman's become such a family man? Who's next in the Bat family? A maid named Alice? Or does Alfred already fulfill that role? At any rate, I really miss Batman having more adult interactions. Back in about 2000, it wasn't so much about him being Daddy Bats but rather Paternal Mentor Bats. Even when I was growing up the Dick Grayson I knew from the animated series was in college and Chris O'Donnell was in his 20's when he played Robin. But that's a whole different discussion!

Anyways, a definite highlight of Batman and the Huntress' relationship (as well as the tension that always had a grasp on it) was when she started masquerading as Batgirl during "No Man's Land". She capitalizes on the silhouette of the ears and the cape and mainly intimidates street thugs and unadulterated wickedness ensues...

I love it. Helena hasn't earned the title, it's definitely going to irk Bruce, and she's just.... so not Barbara Gordon, you know she won't hold back if she gets her hands on you! Of course, like most of her interactions with Batman, it ends badly....

What I like about Bertinelli Huntress & Batman together is that they work off one another in a way that you don't often see with the rest of his allies. In a way, he wants the best for her and hopes to be a positive influence on her but he also hasn't any patience for nonsense so they're always at odds. He tried to set her up with the Justice League so she'd be around positive influences and it resulted in her trying to kill Prometheus. I wouldn't be surprised if he also had some say in her being in the Birds of Prey as well but it was always unclear as to why she was recruited other than that it was a motion to correct her past behavior. At any rate, it was a relationship that tested both characters in a compelling way. For Helena, it was more of a daddy complex that was addled with both resentment and desire for approval whereas for Bruce it was a test of his unflinching stoicism and reserve. At his core, he's just as emotional as Helena but keeps his emotions within the firm grip of his disciplined nature but Helena is most certainly a challenge to that. In a way, she's a more sympathetic version of Jason Todd but someone who can get a whole lot closer to Bruce if need be. It would've been quite interesting to see how that relationship developed but alas, it was largely ignored after "No Man's Land", I don't think DC realized what they had with that one. What a shame. Though Helena did have her moment with Bruce when she managed to fend off the Joker and his gang while taking a few bullets in the process....

Do you realize at this point I haven't even gotten to "The Birds of Prey"? There was enough here to provide for a hefty blog post and yet the thing she's arguably most famous is a few paragraphs in. That should be indication enough as to the power and complexity of Helena Bertinelli's character. Here she takes on Lady Shiva during one of the last "Birds of Prey" arcs....

Helena's perseverance pays off mightily here, she withstands Lady Shiva's blows just long enough to outwit her and throw her off her footing. It is then that Lady Shiva deems her "Iron Owl", a name that I doubt the Huntress would take to but nonetheless this is a telling feat.

The Huntress amongst her gal pals in the Birds of Prey is a whole different Huntress mainly because she's amongst truly nurturing souls like Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon. She's a bit softer, more compassionate but still the wild card who's the first to dole out the thrashings when the going gets tough. I understand how Shiva fans object to their mistress being bested with such ease but Lady Blackhawk's line is the most telling of the series about the mental and physical constitution of Helena Bertinelli. She's enduring, she's stubborn, and she never rests on her laurels, the strength in Helena's character lies purely in her uncompromising will.

Ultimately, Helena Bertinelli beats the hell out of a path that is all her own. She made choices uncharacteristic of many heroines and heroes and her greatest journey is her internal struggle as a result of those choice. She wants peace but wrestles with relentless impulses that are influenced by everything to the contrary, she's unresolved and yet very complete in the sense that she knows who she is and what she believes in. If you ask me, I think DC is making a major mistake in benching Helena Bertinelli. I've never seen a character like her. Ever. She isn't the heir to Selina and Bruce's legacy and yet still somehow she encompassed some of the most intriguing facets of their characters. She has Selina's fire, her juvenile nature, her rebelliousness and she has Bruce's trauma, his unyielding conviction, and his relentlessness. Helena Bertinelli had enough material to stand on her own two feet outside of being associated with any other hero which I consider a great triumph.

I would, of course, be more forgiving if Helena were to return for a little Huntress vs Huntress face-off. Because, after all, what happens off panel is hardly a sufficient seal on any comicbook character's fate. But until that day, if it comes.....what a waste of an interesting life....

35 Comments
35 Comments
Posted by Ravager4

Posted by SmashBrawler

Wow, this was quite a fantastic read. Sometimes I wish DC/Marvel would hire writers like you, people who can see what makes the characters they're writing special.

Posted by RazzaTazz

well said, she will be back though

Moderator
Posted by thehummingbird

I completely agree, and have also questioned a lot of decisions made by DC in recent times. Helena Bertinelli was one of my favorite characters and this is a horrid loss for everyone.

Posted by HexThis

@RazzaTazz said:

well said, she will be back though

Ooooh! Do you know something I don't? Or is that just a good guess?

@SmashBrawler said:

Wow, this was quite a fantastic read. Sometimes I wish DC/Marvel would hire writers like you, people who can see what makes the characters they're writing special.

Gosh, thanks!

Posted by lykopis

This is truly one of the most well written, well thought out blogs I have ever read. I got to know Helena through her mini-series (and was so disappointed it wasn't picked up and continued) and she became instantly a favourite of mine.

Wonderful way to commemorate a character who was sent off to nowhereland with a few paltry lines and filler panels.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@HexThis: They just always come back.

Moderator
Posted by daredevil21134

AWSOME BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by fps_dean

I've really taken a strong liking to Helena Bertinelli after her days in the Birds of Prey. She's definitely much more interesting than Helana Wayne, and she is the Hundress that I've grown attached to over the years -- although they did make the New 52 Helena Wayne possibly slightly unstable too?

Plus, when I heard about the reboot, I thought that the Birds of Prey would be trimmed down to Batgirl, Black Canary, Huntress and maybe (hopefully) Lady Blackhawk. Which would be good IMO.

Honestly, along with Superman, these were my biggest disappointments of the reboot.

Posted by jrock85

Posted by comkid100

A great argument about why a character should be returned. What comic is the image with Helena & Question from, is it cry for blood?

Posted by _Araneae_

Ah what? Those bastards I hate them!

Posted by HexThis

@comkid100 said:

A great argument about why a character should be returned. What comic is the image with Helena & Question from, is it cry for blood?

Thank you! And yep, Cry for Blood.

@fps_dean said:

I've really taken a strong liking to Helena Bertinelli after her days in the Birds of Prey. She's definitely much more interesting than Helana Wayne, and she is the Hundress that I've grown attached to over the years -- although they did make the New 52 Helena Wayne possibly slightly unstable too?

They somewhat led us on into thinking she was more of a hellraiser earlier on when she was masquerading as Helena Bertinelli but she's pretty tame by "World's Finest". I agree Bertinelli's more interesting and I'm also feeling like Bruce and especially Selina just shouldn't have kids right now, even alternate universe children. With Jean Grey and Scott now we have Rachel Grey looking to them and talking about them like they are her parents but in actuality they're only a few years older than her- it ages the characters which is a problem since they're supposed to be somewhat timeless.

In my opinion, Bruce shouldn't even have Damian and Selina can't be a mother to Helena. I feel like Helena Wayne only works in an alternate universe in that way too. It's complicated!

Posted by daredevil21134

@HexThis: I completely agree

Posted by fps_dean

@HexThis said:

@comkid100 said:

A great argument about why a character should be returned. What comic is the image with Helena & Question from, is it cry for blood?

Thank you! And yep, Cry for Blood.

@fps_dean said:

I've really taken a strong liking to Helena Bertinelli after her days in the Birds of Prey. She's definitely much more interesting than Helana Wayne, and she is the Hundress that I've grown attached to over the years -- although they did make the New 52 Helena Wayne possibly slightly unstable too?

They somewhat led us on into thinking she was more of a hellraiser earlier on when she was masquerading as Helena Bertinelli but she's pretty tame by "World's Finest". I agree Bertinelli's more interesting and I'm also feeling like Bruce and especially Selina just shouldn't have kids right now, even alternate universe children. With Jean Grey and Scott now we have Rachel Grey looking to them and talking about them like they are her parents but in actuality they're only a few years older than her- it ages the characters which is a problem since they're supposed to be somewhat timeless.

In my opinion, Bruce shouldn't even have Damian and Selina can't be a mother to Helena. I feel like Helena Wayne only works in an alternate universe in that way too. It's complicated!

I agree with you 100%. And while she was more of a hellraiser early on, she still did have a bit of a temper at times too though, which was really what I was getting at.

Posted by GraceChoiJr

Helena Bertinelli will always be the real Huntress.

Posted by daredevil21134

@GraceChoiJr said:

Helena Bertinelli will always be the real Huntress.

QFT

Posted by wtk1013

Helena Bertinelli is one of my favorite DC characters,now New 52 came and just destroyed her.I think the do not know what they are doing sometimes and.......i just want Helena Bertinelli Huntress back in.If that were to happen,it would change my whole view on the New 52.

Posted by queenfrost_

When they realise that the New 52 is sufficient enough right now, they'll develop another 'Earth' where our lovely Helena is alive and well.

But that's california dreaming. Perhaps the run on Birds of Prey could do a storyline where they investigate Helena Bertinelli and find out she faked her death?

Posted by lifeofvibe

and shes still gone as always say F*CK DC

Posted by Vitalius
Online
Edited by Vitalius

@queenfrost_: Maybe after Black Canary deal with Ra´al Ghul and husband.

I also would like see her again. As they mention she was Mafia Princess, she could have change of Hearth and because of it, The Mafia went after her and she fake her own death, so to she could have good life and hunt her crimes as the Huntress.

Online
Posted by daredevil21134

@vitalius said:

@queenfrost_: Maybe after Black Canary deal with Ra´al Ghul and husband.

I also would like see her again. As they mention she was Mafia Princess, she could have change of Hearth and because of it, The Mafia went after her and she fake her own death, so to she could have good life and hunt her crimes as the Huntress.

Well her Father showed up recently so here's hoping

Posted by Vitalius
Online
Posted by daredevil21134
Edited by Vitalius

@daredevil21134:

if she is really dead. Like black lantern as last resort.

Online
Posted by daredevil21134

@vitalius said:

@daredevil21134:

if she is really dead. Like black lanterna as last resort.

Yeah I think the door has been left wide open to bring her back

Posted by Vitalius
Online
Posted by daredevil21134
Posted by Vitalius

@daredevil21134:

Well Black Canary now is fusion of two Black Canary,if Huntress dont appear soon that might also happen to her also. Plus Black Canary so far has only been treat as another bat family character and only has been dealing with pseudo death of Kurt Lance since Birds of Prey 1. One good side, her Canary Cry is more stronger.

Online
Posted by daredevil21134

@vitalius said:

@daredevil21134:

Well Black Canary now is fusion of two Black Canary,if Huntress dont appear soon that might also happen to her also. Plus Black Canary so far has only been treat as another bat family character and only has been dealing with pseudo death of Kurt Lance since Birds of Prey 1. One good side, her Canary Cry is more stronger.

OH ok

Posted by lifeofvibe
Posted by wtk1013

Helena Bertinelli will be returning in the New 52 Grayson series in July!! Thank God!! Go look on her wiki page under forums!!

Posted by Ms-Lola

@wtk1013: Thank you for bumping this blog. It answered a lot of questions I had.

Posted by daredevil21134