Sunday 11 June 2017
Batman Proposes To Catwoman In Rebirth. What Could This Mean For Our Girl, Helena Wayne?
While mainstream media was all over this story for days as if the British Royal Family had announced an upcoming Royal Wedding, BatCat fans like myself spent the last few days going through The Five Stages of Being a Bruce and Selina Fan:
1. Apathy ("We've already been down this road.")
2. Scepticism ("There's no way DC will let it happen.")
3. Cynicism ("It won't last, so why bother?")
4. Acceptance ("Okay, maybe DC will do it this time.")
5. Cautious Optimism ("We could get Helena Wayne back.")
You know you've been a Bruce and Selina fan for years (decades) when you very much expect DC to let you down every time the couple appears to make any significant progress or--better yet--actually get together and/or marry. It's already happened once before on both pre-Crisis Earth-1 and Earth-2 (on the latter Earth, they married), and once again pre-Flashpoint before returning to "Square 01" with the New 52, which kickstarted the current incarnation of the DC universe.
As hard as it is to expect DC to let anything last given their history of rebooting and retooling their mainstream continuity every few decades, in the end, I think this is an important development for Bruce and Selina that I want to see stick moving forward. So instead of doing an article detailing all of my concerns about what could go wrong here, I want to do the exact opposite. Since the promise of Rebirth is reclaiming all of DC's history and putting all of the pieces back on the board, I would like to talk about what I would like to see happen with this new development.
BRUCE AND SELINA RECLAIM THEIR GOLDEN AGE HISTORY
In King's story, Bruce and Selina have very different recollections of their first meeting. From Bruce's perspective, he first met her as "The Cat" on a yacht looking to steal a diamond necklace as originally detailed in Batman #1 in 1940. From Selina's perspective, her first meeting with Bruce happened just before he became Batman as originally detailed in Frank Miller's and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One.
The acknowledgement of both histories is very significant in part because it's sticking to the promise of Rebirth putting everything back on the table, and also because it's--in a way--symbolic of Bruce and Selina's constantly changing history. It's especially symbolic of the idea that time has been stolen from them, which is one of the underlying themes of Rebirth.
If King continues on the track that he's on right now, we could not only find ourselves revisiting Bruce and Selina's past going all the way back to the Silver Age Earth-1 continuity, but could even revisit the continuation of their Golden Age history on Earth-2 during the Bronze Age. It could especially revisit their original marriage that resulted in the birth of a daughter, Helena Wayne, who became the heroine known as the Huntress and a valued member of the Justice Society.
Since the Golden Age Bruce and Selina were originally established as getting married in 1955 (DC Super-Stars #17), this could easily serve as the point in time where their history diverged into its Silver Age incarnation, since 1955 was also the year the Silver Age officially started with the emergence of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan as the new Flash and Green Lantern respectively.
On that note, King's story could even have us revisit "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" from The Brave and the Bold #197, especially since some of his own story parallels elements from that original story. It could even result in Bruce, once again, recalling another memory of his respective past that was stolen from him, which could then lead us too...
THE REAPPEARANCE OF HELENA WAYNE HUNTRESS ON PRIME EARTH
in another post.
Some fans may scratch their heads and wonder "how would it be possible for Helena Wayne to exist as an adult in the present if her parents are as young as she is?" A valid question, but not impossible to achieve if Superman Reborn taught us anything. Perhaps the key to her re-emergence doesn't lie in treating her parents' marriage as "a first," but as a case of reclaiming their own past from both the Golden Age and Bronze Age.
Maybe in having Bruce and Selina marry in the current "present", that triggers the re-appearance of their Bronze Age daughter in a much similar fashion to both Wally West and Jay Garrick in Rebirth. Maybe Helena has always been here and the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths that resulted in her erasure from history start to become undone. (Remember, we're reclaiming the past here.)
If it was up to me to tell this story, this is how I would personally do it. I would have Bruce and Selina marry in the "present" effectively reclaiming one piece of their Golden Age past. In the moment of tying the knot, a mysterious woman starts to appear and disappear at random trying to reach out to them. Maybe Bruce and Selina tying the knot causes a dimensional disturbance that facilitates the world starting to remember their original marriage and their daughter. Maybe "forgotten" aspects of their Golden Age and Bronze Age history start to surface in the present, providing Bruce with a brand new mystery to solve.
Why is he suddenly finding family photos of himself and Selina married with a daughter? Who is the mysterious woman who keeps trying to reach out to them from "another dimension?" Do Bruce and Selina seek Barry Allen again to help them solve this mystery? Do they use the cosmic treadmill again to trace the background radiation of the mysterious woman, leading them back to a ghost dimension of the pre-Crisis Earth-2? Do they find the Batcave of the original Golden Age Bruce? What do they find there? As Bruce, Selina, and Barry skulk around this Batcave, do they find the manuscript of "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne"? Upon reading it, do Bruce and Selina realise that the mysterious woman they've been encountering all this time was their long lost daughter?
Are Bruce and Selina given the choice to completely reclaim their past or keep their present? Helena Wayne doesn't want to be erased from existence again, but Bruce and Selina also don't want to erase their current history, nor does Bruce want to erase his son Damian or any of the current members of his family. So what do they choose? In the end, I think Bruce and Selina would choose to reclaim ALL of their past, including their present, resulting in a modifying of their current history (ala Superman Reborn) to not only put years back into their timeline, but also reinstate their daughter back into mainstream continuity.
Maybe the Bruce and Selina that make it back to Prime Earth with their daughter in the present are old enough to have an adult offspring, but also young enough to resemble their pre-Flashpoint incarnations. Maybe a storyline such as this would put Bruce back into his early 40s and Selina in her late 30s just like before. Maybe in the new history, Bruce and Selina originally married when they were in their 20s (and it looks the same as it did in the "present") and their daughter was born to them two years later just like in the pre-Crisis continuity.
Maybe in the modified history, Bruce, Selina, and young Helena went to Haley's Circus in a family outing one day and met Dick Grayson when his parents were murdered during their performance. Maybe Dick and Helena first became Robin and the Huntress when they were only teenagers and worked together with Batman and Catwoman as well as on their own. Maybe when Dick became Nightwing and passed down the mantle of Robin to Jason Todd, then later Tim Drake, Helena moved to a new city for college and operated as the Huntress in that new city.
Maybe in the new present, Helena Wayne met Helena Bertinelli through Dick Grayson from his time with Spyral and handed her Huntress identity to her in order to focus all of her energy on law school. Maybe Bertinelli sees "The Huntress" as a perfect moniker for her new role and fashions her current Huntress costume to match her own individual identity rather than Wayne's.
Maybe to kickstart Justice Society Rebirth, Helena Wayne graduates from law school and decides to move to New York City to pursue her career as a lawyer and resume operating as the Huntress there, complete with a new costume. Perhaps her reason for shifting her focus to New York City comes from a place of feeling that her mother and father's extended Batman family already has Gotham very well protected and she wants to stand out as her own hero, just like before. (Her decision to move to New York would also parallel Dick's decision to move to Blüdhaven in order to find his own footing.)
By having Helena relocate to New York City, this would both facilitate her joining the Justice Society as the Huntress once again since they're now based there instead of Civic City. It would also facilitate her meeting Power Girl again, effectively reinstating their friendship that proved popular with fans. In addition to reinstating her place into the Justice Society, reuniting Helena with Power Girl can also help launch a new Huntress/Power Girl comic, and I think it would be more successful this time because their story is now permanently set on Prime Earth. A new Huntress/Power Girl book can also take its time to re-explore Power Girl's origins as the Golden Age Superman's long lost cousin and work on successfully reintegrating her to the Prime Earth continuity alongside Helena.
Maybe by the time Talia unleashes the ten-year old Damian on the married Bruce and Selina to disrupt their happiness, both Dick and Helena had already moved out of Wayne Manor as they would both be 18 during this time. The rest can easily play out the way it originally did for the most part. The only thing that would be different this time is that Selina would now be a part of his story instead of just his father. With Bruce and Selina now raising him to become a better person than the assassin Talia originally trained him to be, that would be an even worse slap in the face for Talia, possibly leading to the events of Grant Morrison's Batman Inc run during the New 52. (At least Talia's initial anger at Bruce would make more sense now with this new context.)
Having examined all of DC's past continuity and present, I very strongly feel that reinstating the original Helena Wayne Huntress to fulfil the same roles she originally fulfilled within the current continuity wouldn't be hard to achieve at all. At least by reintegrating her original history to the fabric of Prime Earth, you will still preserve the following things people loved about her in the first place:
1. She is the first canonical child of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle
2. She is still the original Huntress even if she now shares that identity with Helena Bertinelli
3. She is once again a lawyer, complete with her own law firm
4. She can once again become a current member of the Justice Society of America
5. She can once again become friends with Power Girl, reuniting the World's Finest ladies
My proposal is very much a win-win for everyone. I get back the character I want to read about once again, and fans of DC's Prime Earth continuity still get to keep their favourite characters. I also managed to modify Helena's Huntress origin in a way that DIDN'T require killing her parents. They need to stick around because they are an amazing couple I want to keep reading about and we can finally have stories where Helena interacts with her parents in the present. (At least I have a reason now to put Tom King's Batman back on my pull list as one of the Rebirth books to follow.)
If I was able to come up with all of this off the top of my head, there's no reason why it can't happen! So don't let me down, DC! Do surprise me in a profoundly meaningful way!