Sunday 3 September 2017

Helena Wayne 40th Anniversary, Another Open Letter to Geoff Johns

Dear Geoff Johns,

Today is my 31st birthday, but also Helena Wayne's 40th anniversary this year. While I don't expect DC to celebrate this milestone in the character's history just yet (at least not until her 50th anniversary in 2027), it's still a very serendipitous time to acknowledge that, given the promise of Rebirth to reclaim all of DC's history instead of rewriting it yet again.

So far, Rebirth has been a refreshing new change in direction with so many books having amazing creative teams, complete with new stories that have heart to them. Admittedly, it's also been difficult waiting to know anything about the status of the Justice Society these past 14 months, and especially that of Helena Wayne Huntress--a character I associate more with the Justice Society than I do with the Batman family. (Obviously because she's been written more within that context.)

One thing I am excited about this year, Geoff, is DC making Batman and Catwoman's marriage canon again--a pre-Crisis development that's been long overdue for reinstatement. Obviously, Selina still hasn't given her in-story response yet, but my gut feeling tells me Batman writer Tom King isn't doing this as a gimmick. Even if Selina does say "no" (which is equally possible) I don't feel Tom King would tell this story if no major payoff was going to come out of it.

That major payoff could result in the Prime Earth versions of Bruce and Selina finally catching up to their Golden Age/Earth-2 counterparts by finally tying the knot, or the event could somehow trigger the reappearance of the classic Helena Wayne Huntress, which is something many fans are expecting to see happen. The latter is, of course, what I am most interested in.

There are two ways I can see Helena Wayne's reintroduction handled in Rebirth: either she is born to the Prime Earth versions of Bruce and Selina, or their marriage triggers the reappearance of the classic character Paul Levitz co-created with Joe Staton and Bob Layton in 1977. In my opinion, the latter needs to be the way the classic Helena is brought back, and I hope you understand why that's important to me.

Aside from the fact that Helena Wayne was already a mainstream DC character before Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the rules, reinstating Helena needs to be a course correction on that previous reboot. Her Rebirth needs to be about allowing that character to reclaim her identity and place in the DC universe after DC has repeatedly robbed her of those things both post-Crisis and post-Flashpoint.

Post-Crisis treated Helena Bertinelli as a rebooted version of Helena Wayne with a new origin that severed her blood ties to Bruce and Selina, and gave her place as Bruce's first canonical biological child to Damian Wayne--a character who is based off of an actual AU story (Son of the Demon).

The New 52 was the opportunity to course correct on the character's erasure post-Crisis. Unfortunately, the character's reintroduction was mishandled, namely by retconning Helena Bertinelli at the last minute. She was also--once again--robbed of her visibility when DC decided that her grandfather should have her story, followed by some random bloke who had no real reason to uphold her family legacy other than the marginal coincidence of sharing a name with Dick Grayson. If I may be blunt here, Geoff, the whole "New Earth-2 Batman" gimmick DC tried to sell for so long was such a painfully sexist disgrace, I really don't want to see it repeated in Rebirth.

I am happy that Helena Bertinelli fans did not have to wait two decades like Helena Wayne fans did to see their favourite character again, and I will forever defend Tom King and Tim Seeley's decision to reintroduce her as a dark-skinned Italian-American of Sicilian origin. Not just because it was necessary to divorce Bertinelli from her "Helena Wayne 2.0" status, but also because it provides dark-skinned Sicilians much needed mainstream visibility. Helena Bertinelli's core concept as a character (as previously established by Joey Cavalieri and Greg Rucka) still needs to be reinstated, but I am grateful that Julie and Shawna Benson are working on that.

Getting back to the main point, Geoff, I really want the Helena Wayne we get back in Rebirth to be the original character that appeared in 1977. Obviously, some modification will be required for her to fit into the Rebirth timeline, but I would like for the core concept of her character to be left intact. She needs to be Bruce Wayne's original child with Selina Kyle again (that honour does not go to Damian, sorry), she needs to be the original Huntress again (just like Jay Garrick will always be the original Flash), and she needs to have her friendship with Power Girl reinstated. I would also like to see her with the Justice Society again because her absence was strongly felt post-Crisis, especially where Power Girl was concerned. I would like for things to be different this time around.

Having said all that, Geoff, I am looking forward to reading your Doomsday Clock story with Gary Frank later this year, and I really want to be genuinely surprised by it. In fact, I would like for that story to exceed my expectations. At the moment, I am enjoying Dark Nights: Metal by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, complete with all of its amazing surprises. Words cannot express how happy I was to see Kendra Saunders (is she still Muñoz?) again! She is a fantastic character, but like I said, I would like for Helena Wayne to get the same treatment. I would like to see a genuine Rebirth of her character and not another rewrite of her history.

In the meantime, I'll be spending the next four months celebrating Helena's 40th anniversary, hopefully in preparation for her Rebirth either later this year or in 2018. If Rebirth will be new fans' reintroduction to Helena Wayne, I am more than happy to point them in the right direction to her history in order to understand her present!


Diane Darcy

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