I've been thinking about this for a while, and like everyone else waiting to hear anything about Justice Society Rebirth other than "wait and see," I've been doing a lot of speculating on how to bring back the classic Helena Wayne Huntress with Justice Society Rebirth and who would be the character to do it.
I'm almost positive one of the sure comebacks is going to be the classic Power Girl from the pre-Crisis Earth-2, especially since she's already appearing in the Harley Quinn Rebirth series, alongside Atlee (aka Terra) who was her sidekick pre-Flashpoint. Not to mention she's too popular a character for DC to leave out of the classic superhero team that made her. Additionally, if anyone is going to be interested in having Helena Wayne back in her life, it's going to be Power Girl, especially considering what she suffered through just before Flashpoint. So I thought of every possible way the more classic Helena Wayne could be brought back based on what we currently know.
The first thing I speculated a while back was "what if Dr. Manhattan composed this new Earth-0 by collecting the cities that were brought over to Telos for the Convergence event, especially if this event undid Crisis on Infinite Earths?" Well, that would effectively undo the deaths of the original Helena Wayne Huntress, the original Earth-2 Dick Grayson, and former Teen Titan, Kole.
If Dr. Manhattan and/or "Mr. Oz" (possibly Watchmen's Ozymandias?) are still on "cleaning duty" with this new Earth, it is possible Dick and Helena were among the Justice Society members that were erased from the new Earth's history. Or if the events of Crisis still happened as they originally did, but without any involvement from the Anti-Monitor (maybe Mr. Oz and Dr. M were responsible), maybe the lightning that "killed" Dick and Helena was Mr. Oz and/or Dr. M taking them out and bringing them to their dimensional prison. Perhaps the graves in which Dick and Helena are "buried" are in fact empty graves, effectively preserving the original status quo of their bodies never being found.
Either way, by retconning Helena's original death as Mr. Oz/Dr. M taking her out of the new DC Earth, it would preserve both the original aftermath of the Crisis erasing all memory of her, but it would also facilitate her return. Since Power Girl eventually got her original memories of the pre-Crisis Earth-2 back, she may be the key to Helena Wayne's return, especially if the original Helena finds a way out of Mr. Oz's dimensional prison. The Question is where do you go from there?
The classic Helena Wayne's return could easily facilitate a new Huntress/Power Girl Rebirth comic, especially since there is so much story to tell with the classic Helena's revival (and especially her reunion with Power Girl) that couldn't be contained in the Justice Society comic without taking page space away from the Justice Society characters. Since the classic Helena Wayne Huntress is the more popular version of the character anyway, it's very likely an ongoing comic featuring her and the classic Power Girl would be much more successful than the one that featured their New 52 counterparts. However, they will still need help getting launched. So what ingredients are needed for a Huntress/Power Girl Rebirth comic to be successful? Well, I've narrowed it down to three main ones: structural diversity, having an actual story direction, and for DC to market and promote these characters correctly.
1. Structural Diversity
Decisions like reducing Power Girl's character to the grossly sexist "dumb blonde" stereotype in order to elevate Huntress into the "brainy brunette" role was one such decision that doomed the original title. Taking away all of the original ideas and character developments that defined Power Girl as a very different character from Supergirl by literally turning her into "alternate universe Supergirl" was another. The constant queer-baiting with Kara and Helena was another issue that put off female readers, and especially queer women. Then there was DC's obsession with trying to establish a new Batman and Superman as marketing tools for Earth-2 that sealed their fate in "doomed to fail" because by having a new Batman and Superman on Earth-2, DC defeated the purpose of Huntress and Power Girl.
Notice that with a creative braintrust comprised of James Robinson, Paul Levitz, and eventually Tom Taylor, coupled with the leadership of Eddie Berganza, Pat McCullum, Wil Moss, and eventually Michael Cotton as editors in the earlier years of the New 52, there were zero women present to make any important decisions, and the characters' direction was decided entirely by men, most of them white. While editors like Pat McCullum and Wil Moss don't have a track record of being bad editors, and Paul Levitz, James Robinson, and Tom Taylor are all celebrated as progressive and influential storytellers, they also possess a limited idea on the kinds of stories that will attract diverse, and especially female readers. As such, they've all made decisions during their runs that hurt the visibility of Huntress and Power Girl in some capacity during the New 52.
James Robinson accomplished this through a joint decision with DC editorial to temporarily place Huntress and Power Girl on the mainstream Earth. With Helena out of the picture, this left the Batman legacy conveniently vacant on Earth-2 in order to develop Helena's grandfather--Thomas Wayne--in that capacity, with the obvious intention to capitalise on the success of the Flashpoint Batman. Tom Taylor similarly accomplished this by taking advantage of Power Girl's vacancy on Earth-2 in order to create a new Superman to replace her cousin, Kal-L. This effectively erased Power Girl's relevance to the Earth-2 narrative and placed a POC character in the position of inheriting another diverse character's legacy through sexism. Then there was Paul Levitz whose writing was more clichés and stereotypes than any meaningful character development, but he was also very limited in the story decisions he could make with Huntress and Power Girl because much of Earth-2's direction (like the rest of the New 52) was largely decided by DC editorial or upper management.
Having examined the factors that doomed the New 52 versions of Huntress and Power Girl to fail, what needs to be done differently for the classic versions to be successful during Rebirth? Well, for starters, DC could try putting women in charge this time, both at the editorial and creative levels to bring an authentic female perspective to their story. Having a female editor in particular can help avoid problems with representation and story directions that can hurt the characters' longterm success. This sounds like an ideal book for Rebecca Taylor, Jessica Chen, or Kristy Quinn. Having a female writer can also help on those fronts as well, and help develop the kinds of stories that can invite both older fans of these characters, as well as newer--especially female--fans. This sounds like an ideal book for a writer like Gail Simone, who is both an established creator in comics, and has a very strong track record with diverse representation.
2. Have an Actual Story Direction
With the classic Justice Society set to return on Earth-0 for Rebirth, this should help eliminate both the problem with the lack of direction and DC's temptation to establish a new Batman and Superman on a world that already has the more iconic versions. Since Huntress and Power Girl are the direct legacies of the Golden Age Batman and Superman, they can easily fulfil those roles in the Justice Society team given that Earth-0's Batman and Superman are based directly on their Silver Age/Earth-1 counterparts. With the classic versions of Huntress and Power Girl now taking up permanent residence on this new Earth, more time can actually be spent cementing them to this new Earth's continuity and explore the ways they achieve this.
If Power Girl's entire history from pre-Crisis Earth-2 to pre-Flashpoint Earth-0 is left intact, then this would leave Helena Wayne to figure out how to make her place on this new world now that the one she knows no longer exists as it once did. There's plenty of story potential in that concept alone, beginning by answering the most important question: where was Helena Wayne this whole time that she was erased from Earth-0's history and how did she make her way back? What were her conditions for her return?
"The Return of Helena Wayne" sounds like a good future story arc for the Justice Society Rebirth book and one that would be directly important to Power Girl. Would the Helena Wayne that suddenly surfaces on Earth-0 have her memories intact or will she have "forgotten" her own history in order to hide from the prying eyes of Mr. Oz in a similar fashion to Mr. Mxyzptlk in Superman Reborn? How will she live her life on this new Earth? Will she still be Helena Wayne, living as an ordinary woman with a normal career as an attorney? Or will she be living under an alias to not draw the attention of Bruce Wayne or anyone else with a strong enough presence who could expose her to Mr. Oz?
Could villains like the Wizard, the Psycho-Pirate, or Per Degaton be interested in her as their "key" to "terraforming" this new Earth into the one they lost, kind of similar to what Earth-3's Alexander Luthor and Psycho Pirate tried to do with Power Girl to revive the multiverse in Infinite Crisis? Would she be a target of the Golden Age Joker who remembers Helena as the daughter to his Batman and decide to have her take her father's place in his life, kind of like what Geoff Johns did with an alternate version of her in his Justice Society of America run?
What happens next after "The Return of Helena Wayne" wraps up? I think from there, a new Huntress/Power Girl comic could be launched to not take focus away from the Justice Society characters in their own book. From there, time could be spent re-establishing Power Girl's relationship with Helena Wayne. Re-explore their past together on the pre-Crisis Earth-2 and take their relationship in a new direction for the current continuity. Explore how they get the new Earth to remember them again, and even explore how the Golden Age Batman's history gets remembered by Earth-0 citizens if the events of Infinite Crisis (which brought back the Golden Age versions of Superman and Wonder Woman) are still intact. That storyline could effectively bring back the Golden Age Joker (first teased in Geoff Johns' Rebirth one-shot), as well as address the question of the fate of the original Earth-2 Dick Grayson. Explore how reinstating the Golden Age Batman's history alleviates Helena Wayne of a complicated past like what was originally done with Power Girl.
From there, simply tell new stories with Kara and Helena on their new home. Have them build new relationships with the Batman and Superman families of Earth-0, and create a new rogues gallery for them, or revisit some of their old ones. Even have them visit the new Earth-2 that Earth-2: Society concluded with and have them meet their counterparts there. How will Helena Wayne react to meeting a version of herself who became Earth-2's Batman and female Bruce Wayne? How will Power Girl react to meeting a version of herself who eventually decided to wear the 'S' on her chest when she herself rejected the idea of wearing an insignia? How will this experience change the way Kara and Helena feel about themselves and how will this help reaffirm their own identities as Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L? Their identities as Huntress and Power Girl? Will briefly visiting this new Earth-2 give them closure they need on the one that they lost? Like I said, there are plenty of stories to tell here.
3. Market and Promote the Characters Correctly
With Rebirth divorcing DC from all of the things the New 52 did wrong, now is the time to market and promote Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L correctly. With Helena Bertinelli now back in continuity as the Huntress for the Birds of Prey team, DC can easily market Helena Wayne as the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, as well as the Huntress that's unique to the Justice Society team. The same needs to be done with Power Girl as well. In the same way that Helena Wayne carries on the legacy of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, Kara also carries on the legacy of the Golden Age Superman and Lois Lane as Kal-L's cousin. She is also the Power Girl that is unique to the Justice Society team, which helps to differentiate her from the Tanya Spears Power Girl currently appearing on Deathstroke.
In addition to DC needing to market Huntress and Power Girl as the Batman and Superman legacy characters they truly are, DC also needs to promote them continuously like they do the Earth-0 Batman and Superman families. This is important not only for maintaining mainstream visibility, but also to show both the current and potential readership that the company is behind both characters, which helps to build fan confidence that they are here to stay. To build a stronger fanbase that will help the characters sustain their own books, they also need to start having a stronger media presence outside of the comics. They need to start appearing in video games, television shows, and movies, and like the comics, their stories also need to be told correctly. Good media representation outside of the comics is how many new fans become aware of these characters and starts bringing them to the comic shops. (I can safely tell you the Suicide Squad movie brought in more women to my LCS because they loved Harley Quinn in the film.)
Of course, DC being a business working under the larger corporate umbrella of Warner Bros., there are a lot more things that factor into the success and failure of DC Comics characters and properties. But tackling those three main ones I just talked about (structural diversity, strong story direction, and effective marketing) is a start. More often than not, it is a combination of those three things that make or break new comics featuring newer or lesser known characters, at least as they relate to my experiences as a consumer.