Friday, October 07, 2011

Review: Huntress #1

I’m a big fan of the Bat family which is how I know Huntress. Initially going after mob criminals only because of her family connection to them Helena is a character who, unlike the rest of the Bat/Gotham superheroes, was unsanctioned and unwanted by the Batman. Initially having very little training, she was overly aggressive compared to the rest of the Gotham heroes. It made her a unique character with different motivations than the rest of them.

However she was never able to grab my interest other than being something of a clichéd bad girl and a minor thorn in Batman’s side. Then she joined the Birds. She fit in well with this team because each member was unique. They all had their own fighting styles, personalities, motivations, and methods, yet worked great together. She got a lot of character development and even took on Lady Shiva (who, if you don’t know, is the best, and most lethal martial artist in the former DCU). Which was basically a suicide mission on Huntress’ part, but also one of the most defining moments of her as a character (and badass).

Ultra badass!
So it’s interesting to me that she’s staring in her own (albeit limited) title when the Birds of Prey book still exists in the new 52. Birds of Prey gives no explanation as to why she is not part of the team, and neither does this book leaving us to wonder if and what her history is. We get almost nothing here. In fact, the only reason we’re aware of any connection to Batman is that Huntress laments her quick change in comparison to Batman’s eternal preparedness and her references to Gotham. Not to say that this is bad, it certainly allows for more character building if she’s allowed to stand on her own, apart from Gotham. The problem with that is this is pretty much the only character building we get. Why is she in Italy? Why is she a superhero? Does she know she’s messing with mob crime?

First issue, some mystery is to be expected but there’s no apparent motivation for anything she does, and even less character development. Oh, did I mention the horrible dialogue? No? Well judge for yourself:

So, you don't like garbage?
Good god. Straight on til morning? Why don’t you just ask him to call you Ishmael?
Honestly it’s like Paul Levitz has never written a comic, or much of anything before. Honestly, the conversation between Helena and the Italian reporter is wildly confusing. The reporter is disproportionately angry at Helena, who I guess is there to help expose what’s going on? Though I don’t understand how she is supposed to be doing this without identifying herself as Huntress. I reread this exchange a few times and it never became less disjointed. The whole thing seemed forced just to [poorly] introduce the reporter character and name drop the Daily Planet.

I like Huntress but I’m confused as to why I’m supposed to like Huntress here. There’s really
nothing to set this comic apart from anything else in the new 52 universe.

On the plus side is Marcus To’s art. Not overly detailed, his art has a definite flow to it that works well here, especially with the action scenes.
One of the key aspects of Huntress has always been that she’s more of a street fighter compared to a lot of the other non-powered crime fighters. She’s not big on a lot of flips or overly fancy moves, and she’s inclined to a higher level of violence. To does a great job of playing that out every time Helena is fighting. She moves more like a well trained cop or military personnel with a crossbow than a high flying uber martial artist. It gives the reader a sense of the character that the rest of the book does not. Unfortunately I don’t know how apparent that will be to someone picking up this book with no history of the character. I know it’s something I wouldn’t pick up on if I wasn’t well versed in the world.

Word is that by the end of this series Huntress will be the most wanted superhero / criminal in the new 52, and this may lead into her reintroduction to the Birds of Prey, both of which sound interesting, but I’ll take an online summary of this over having to slog through another 5 issues this pointless.

By Kephus with 3 comments


It's not really mentioned anywhere in the comic, but supposedly this Helena isn't Helena Bertinelli; it's Helena Wayne, daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, and the comic takes place on Earth-2.

As if it wasn't confusing enough already, right?

Okay, I had not heard about that rumor at all. That does make things more interesting on a whole, but this issue alone offered me little reason to return.

I think I'll still wait for the series to end before I pick up any more.

Not sure Nyctotherion is right about that. This Huntress miniseries is said to tie in to next year's Justice Society series by James Robinson set on Earth-2, but unless it's truly a fake-out, Paul Levitz didn't correct a Newsarama interviewer who referred to her as Helena Bertinelli

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