Thursday 6 October 2011

Huntress #1 Review (2011)

Title: Huntress #1
Story: Crossbow At The Crossroads, Part 1
Characters: Huntress (Helena Wayne)
Creators: Paul Levitz (writer), Marcus To (artist)
Publication Date: October 2011
Available In: Print | Digital

Summary: After a long month's wait, Huntress #1 written by Huntress co-creator Paul Levitz has finally hit the shelves. The story centres around Helena Bertinelli returning home to Italy on a personal mission to foil a shipment of drugs into Gotham. On her first night there, however, she discovers something more than just your normal organised crime-sponsored drug shipment; she also catches a disgusting sight of an unknown case of human trafficking and gun smuggling!

Helena of course does what she does best. She knocks out a few guys (and tranquilised one), blows up the ship, and brings the would-be trafficked women to safety. The very next day the man behind both trafficking cases--a "Mr. Moretti"--is displeased to learn that his plans were foiled by a female vigilante in a mask, and decides to do something about her. Meanwhile, Helena makes a new friend in the form of Italian reporter Alessandro, and agrees to assist him in putting a stop this disgusting story.

Later that night, Helena settles into her hotel room and arranges to meet with a sex worker (something the bellboy finds 'shameful'). Once her client arrives, she first takes out her pimp with a swift kick in the face, which prompts the young prostitute to dial a number on her mobile in response to panic. This forces Helena put the prostitute to sleep temporarily, and quickly changes into her Huntress costume to take care of the guys who would be coming for her (which she does successfully). The issue ends with the crime boss from earlier in the story offing the guys failed to take out the Huntress, and leaves to seemingly settle matters himself.

Review: I think it goes without saying that out of all the books that have been announced as part of DC's New 52 line of comics, this has been one of the very few books I've been most excited about. With Paul Levitz back on board to reunite with the character he co-created back in 1977, I don't think I could've gotten anymore excited to get this book in hand as soon as it hit the shelves of my LCS.

I will admit I was a bit worried that Levitz would write this Helena very similarly to his original Helena Wayne version (whom I love like a cat loves yarn), but managed to successfully blend the best of both characters without drastically changing anything the Bertinelli incarnation is about. This Helena seems to still retain her Italian mafia roots, religious faith, and is still as passionate about her crime-fighting career as before. However, rather than going back to the "angry borderline sociopathic mafia princess hellbent on revenge" persona who desperately wanted Batman's approval, our heroine instead gains back her self-confidence, professionalism, and wit from her Helena Wayne days, and is shown to be more psychologically well-adjusted than probably even Batman himself.

Whether or not this is meant to be a continuation of the development she underwent during Gail Simone's run on Birds of Prey, or a side effect of the reboot itself, only time will tell. But for the time being, I am happy to say that the changes so far have been kept to a minimum and have been positive ones at that. The story itself is pretty self-contained and does not require the reader to have any prior knowledge of the character in order to get hooked. The fact that Levitz has also chosen to deal with real world issues in this mini also helps to ground the story and make it more relatable to the reader.

All in all, I give this first issue five stars out of five and look forward to the remaining five issues (and hopefully the return of Helena Wayne in the Earth-2 JSA book Robinson is working on). :)

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