Saturday 12 May 2018
The Original BatCat Marriage Part 04: Legacy
Having spent the better part of April discussing the journey of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman, it's now time to talk about their legacy and the impact it had on their two immediate successors: Richard Grayson and Helena Wayne. Though, Helena was introduced immediately following the revelation of Bruce and Selina's marriage in 1977, DC actually attempted to capitalise on the Golden Age Batman's legacy a decade earlier with his protégé, Dick Grayson, who made his adult debut in 1967.
In addition to following up on the original Boy Wonder who came up with all kinds of silly puns in the 1940s, DC additionally wanted to help diversify the disproportinately male Justice Society by adding more women to the team. Originally, they thought about bringing the original Betty Kane Batgirl as a member, but editors and writers at the time didn't feel she had strong enough potential to carry on the legacy of Batman. Not only was Betty not too strongly associated with Bruce Wayne the way Dick Grayson was, but writers and editors at the time also struggled to reboot the character in an interesting way.
Given their dilemma, DC ultimately decided to create a brand new character entirely, and this new character eventually became the Huntress. To truly sell the idea of the character to a new generation of readers, DC settled for making her the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman. Now that DC had a character more directly connected to the Batman legacy, they had a strong reason to invest in the Huntress as Helena Wayne. Helena did more than just help bring gender diversity to the Justice Society team. She also became Gotham's newest protector in her father's place.
While the Huntress essentially became a new generation's Batman, writers also didn't let us forget she was the daughter of Catwoman as well by giving her personality traits more associated with her mother than her father. Traits like not letting men have power over her in any capacity and preferring to break and enter into highly secure places when investigating a case. With this, we begin our discussion on legacy!
ROBIN JOINS THE JUSTICE SOCIETY
During his first meeting with the legendary Justice Society, Dick had revealed that his mentor, Bruce Wayne, had mostly retired from his superhero lifestyle and would only put on the cape and cowl for special cases. Though Dick had become a hero worthy of being Batman's successor thanks to the training he received as Bruce's protégé for a good portion of his childhood and adolescence, he still felt a need to prove his worth to the older, more experienced Justice Society members, many of whom had been active since 1940. In addition to feeling he needed to prove himself to his new comrades, he also felt a responsibility to uphold Bruce's legacy.
This desire to honour Bruce's legacy both reflected in his fighting tactics and in his adult Robin costume. Having exchanged his colourful green, red, and yellow costume and pixie boots for a more Batman-inspired look, Dick set out to carve his place as the Justice Society's answer to the Justice League's Batman on Earth-1. Whether or not he felt as though he was succeeding at filling his mentor's boots in the eyes of his Justice Society friends, however, was another story.
Though Dick knew he had all the tools necessary to become a hero of his own standing, a part of him still felt like he'll always be seen as the kid sidekick, never existing outside the shadow of his mentor. This concern was first expressed in Justice League of America #91-92 where he met his teenage Earth-1 counterpart. While working on a case alongside the Justice Society and Justice League, the Earth-1 Dick Grayson behaved impulsively and was nearly pummelled to death by a kid alien named A-Rym. His Earth-2 counterpart was able to incapacitate the alien long enough to free him from his deadly grip, but the Justice League heroes collectively still decided to get the two Robins out of the way by escorting them both to the Earth-2 Batcave.
Inside the Batcave was where the two Robins had a heart-to-heart chat about where they rank in their respective communities. As a teenager, the Earth-1 Dick didn't feel like he was respected by the Justice League. Oddly enough, the Earth-2 Dick felt the same way about the Justice Society, which didn't sit right with him given his age and years of experience. After all, he was only a decade younger than most of the Justice Society's members and had the same years of experience as them given that he'd also been fighting crime since 1940.
Since the Earth-2 Dick had been living this superhero lifestyle for 31 years (as of 1971, the year of this story's publication), it didn't make sense in his mind for the Justice Society to still treat him like a child. If Bruce had enough faith in his abilities to let him take his place as Gotham's protector, why didn't the Hawkman see him as his equal? It was a valid question and one that prompted the two Robins to show their Justice League and Justice Society comrades what they were really made of. It was also during this scene that the Earth-2 Dick revealed an adult version of his childhood Robin costume that he also lent to his Earth-1 counterpart. This was also the costume he would later be seen wearing in subsequent Justice Society team-ups.
Despite Dick managing to find some kind of place alongside the Justice Society and even got to team up with his mentor on a few occasions, in the end, he didn't really feel like he was getting the respect he felt he was owed. As such, he started appearing less and less with the team, most notably around the time Power Girl made her debut and joined the Justice Society herself in 1976. He especially became absent when his sister-in-practice, Helena Wayne, joined the team as the Huntress in 1978.
WHERE ONE LEGEND ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
Though Dick Grayson did fill in some of the gaps on the elderly Bruce's life following his semi-retirement as Batman, it wasn't until Helena Wayne was introduced in the 1977 DC Super-Stars #17 story "The Secret Origin of the Huntress" that we got to see what became of his mentor since his last Golden Age appearance. Not only did this story first reveal that he married Selina Kyle in 1955, but it also revealed more details of the Wayne family life after they married.
Within the story's opening pages, we learned right away that Bruce and Selina gave birth to their daughter in 1957, which was one of the primary reasons Bruce ended his career as Batman except for on special occasion. Not only had both Bruce and Selina moved on from their need of Batman and Catwoman by this point in their lives, but they especially wanted to raise their daughter safe from the perils of their former dangerous lifestyles. For the most part, Helena enjoyed a normal childhood. Though her parents still taught her martial arts and was highly athletic, she was never--at any point--their kid sidekick. Neither one felt that this was a safe lifestyle for her.
Interestingly enough, when Helena learned as a child that her parents used to be Batman and Catwoman, she got inspired to become a hero herself, but was not interested in putting on a costume. In the same way that her father later in his life chose to become Gotham's police commissioner following the retirement of his old friend James Gordon, Helena also wanted to fight crime within the bounds of the law. By the time she was a young adult, she pursued her studies at Harvard University where she graduated with her juris doctorate.
It wasn't until 1976 that things started to go downhill for Helena Wayne beginning with the death of her mother in the hands of one of her former henchmen, Silky Cernak. This was the first time that we learned the consequences of her parents' former lifestyles. As much as they wanted to move on from their costumed identities, the legacy of those former lifestyles lived on and caught up with them in the end. For Selina, because she used to have a gang in her Catwoman years, it was inevitable that one of her former henchmen would want to compromise her newfound happiness, especially since they all still served their sentences in prison and she did not.
In Bruce's case, it was also inevitable that in the same way Batman disrupted the security of the criminal underworld, that same criminal underworld would also find a way to disrupt his newfound happiness. While Bruce still mourned the death of his wife, the life that he lived alongside her also taught him to let go of his pain and celebrate life instead. This resulted in him destroying his Batman suit, symbolically "killing the Batman" that had defined his tragic life for so long. Shortly following the death of his wife, he started writing his autobiography as detailed in The Brave and the Bold #197.
THE HUNTRESS IS BORN
Wanting to honour both of her parents' legacies, she chose to become neither Batwoman nor a new generation Catwoman, but rather crafted an original (but still symbolic) codename for herself: The Huntress. It was with this moniker that Helena Wayne enacted her revenge against her mother's killer by capturing and delivering him to the Gotham police. Following the events of DC Super-Stars #17, Helena's next Huntress adventures would be detailed in Batman Family, Wonder Woman, All-Star Comics, and Adventure Comics.
Though Helena Wayne technically made her Batman Family debut with issue #17, her solo stories didn't actually begin until issues #18-20 where her new adventures in Gotham would take place. Her solo stories would later continue as a backup series in Wonder Woman when Batman Family was cancelled.
In her first story arc where she took on a real estate scam in Batman Family #18-20, Helena started questioning where her destiny truly resided. Should she give up being the Huntress having already avenged her mother's death a year earlier and stick to practising law? Should she live up to her family legacy and pick up where it left off? After some soul searching, Helena ultimately concluded that her destiny resided with her being the Huntress.
While Helena always knew she was good at her profession, she was also aware that as a lawyer, she was not unique. There were other equally talented lawyers out there who could easily do her job, but there was one advantage she had that others didn't: she had the privilege of being the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. As such, she possessed skills not many others possessed, and could therefore make a different contribution. Why wait for a crime to happen in order for her to do her job when she could stop one from happening in the first place? That was exactly what Helena set out to do with her cases as the Huntress, but quickly learned that possessing unique skills was not the same thing has having experience.
How did Helena Wayne resolve the lack of experience problem? Well, fortunately for her, her parents weren't the only costumed heroes around. With the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society still active, she had more than one brain to pick. But why settle for one when she could learn from all of them?
ADVENTURES WITH THE JUSTICE SOCIETY
Given the kinds of odds that were stacked against Helena, exposing herself to the Justice Society was a risky move for herself. Once she got comfortable enough to disclose herself to Wildcat and the Star-Spangled Kid (the two Justice Society heroes she first teamed up with), it wasn't long before Helena felt comfortable letting the rest of the team know of her existence. Following her successful team-up with Wildcat and the Star-Spangled Kid against the Strike Force (whose leader was revealed to be the Kid's own nephew) in All-Star Comics #70-71, Helena became a full-time member of the Justice Society by issue #72, where she also met and befriended Power Girl.
By All-Star Comics #73, Helena got to participate in her first official case with the Justice Society and even got to meet her more villainous namesake, Paula Brooks, who challenged her for the title of the Huntress. Feeling that her name had been usurped by a far less experienced kid in a Halloween costume, Paula gave Helena a highly deadly competition for the title. Though Helena managed to hold her own against the more villainous Huntress, she still showed her lack of experience by being soft on Paula--a weakness the latter exploited. Had the Green Lantern not come to Helena's assistance when he did, it's not likely that Helena would've survived her encounter with Paula, who unfortunately, outclassed her in setting up deadly traps.
Despite Helena's deadly encounter with the older Golden Age Huntress, her confidence in her abilities was not shaken by the experience. Instead, Helena maintained her optimism, which did not go unnoticed by her new friend, Kara Zor-L, who was still struggling to develop a civilian identity apart from her Power Girl identity. Helena managed to embark on one more mission with the Justice Society against the Master Summoner in All-Star Comics #74 before her activities with the team got noticed by a member of her own family: Dick Grayson.
Sometime following the Justice Society's fight against the Master Summoner, Dick decided to pay Helena a visit at her own flat while she was still in costume in Adventure Comics #461. Though Helena was startled to see Dick had discovered her secret, he reassured her he wouldn't disclose her secret to her father. Shortly after this encounter, however, a criminal by the name of Bill Jensen launched a super powered attack against Gotham with Commissioner Bruce Wayne as his target.
The events of Adventure Comics #462-463 was the first time we saw Bruce since the aftermath of Selina Kyle's death in DC Super-Stars #17 and his brief entanglement with the Psycho-Pirate in All-Star Comics #68-69. Within the pages of Adventure Comics #462, we saw that Bruce had something of a death wish, showing that he was still mourning the loss of Selina and was looking to make his permanent exit. Feeling that this would be his last major battle, Bruce figured he would go out the only way he truly could: as Batman.
After recovering an old Batman suit from the Gotham City museum, Bruce confronted Bill Jensen atop a skyscraper just as he was pummelling the Justice Society (including his ward and daughter) with his newfound energy powers. Deciding he had nothing else left to lose, Bruce (as Batman) gave Bill a fight to remember. Not only did he let his new foe know he was the Batman, but he did so with the purpose of angering him to the point of literally burning himself out. Bill did exactly what Bruce expected, but roasting himself didn't just kill him. He took Bruce with him, which happened within Helena's field of view.
Separate funerals were held for both Bruce Wayne and the Batman, complete with separate memorials. At Bruce's funeral, Dick and Helena had a brief discussion about who should become the next Batman. Still feeling indebted to Bruce for looking after him since he was a young boy, Dick felt he owed it to Bruce to take up his mantle. Helena objected by telling Dick that only one man could be Batman and that man was her father. More than Gotham needed a new Batman, Helena felt that the only way both she and Dick could truly honour his legacy was by becoming heroes of their own standing, complete with their own identities. She rationalised that only legends could live forever, not the people who make them.
Though Bruce died before he had the chance to learn of his daughter's activities as the Huntress (or at least, we're made to assume that), this wouldn't be the last time Helena would see her father, or at least a version of him. Still feeling that she needed guidance and still wanted to interact with her father in some capacity, Helena turned her attention to the multiverse, specifically Earth-1 where both the Justice League and the Silver Age Batman resided.
ADVENTURES ON EARTH-1
The bulk of Helena Wayne's team-ups with the Silver Age Bruce mostly took place in the annual Justice League and Justice Society crossovers in the main Justice League of America title. Few of the stories briefly showed the Silver Age Bruce reacting to Helena's existence, especially with the knowledge that Catwoman was her mother. Like Helena's father on Earth-2, the Earth-1 Bruce also found himself questioning his lifestyle choices in Justice League of America #159 and thought about whether or not his future would ever mirror that of his older Golden Age counterpart. Would he also marry Selina at some point in his respective future? Would he also have his own Helena Wayne as his daughter? In his heart, he knew that he wanted this life. At the same time, he also wasn't sure if he could easily have it as there were also significant differences between his Earth and the Justice Society's Earth.
Though Bruce opted not to think too much about his own future and tried not to compare himself to Helena's father, he still thought of Helena as a member of his own family. In Justice League of America #171, he provided Helena with emotional support while she was mourning the death of her father, even if it weirded him out to learn he was dead on another Earth. He even stayed by her side when she was momentarily injured by an explosion on the Justice League satellite in Justice League of America #172. When it came to choosing a Justice Society partner during an annual crossover, the Silver Age Bruce almost always exclusively chose to work with Helena as seen in the Apokolips crossover story in Justice League of America #183-185.
Though Helena came to think of the Silver Age Bruce as a surrogate father while mourning the loss of her own, the same was not true for the Earth-2 Dick Grayson who was also mourning the loss of his mentor. In Brave and the Bold #182, the elderly Dr. Hugo Strange that's native to Earth-2 caused an unnatural thunderstorm that transgressed between Earths 1 and 2, accidentally bringing the Earth-1 Batman to Earth-2. On Earth-2, both Dick Grayson and Ted Knight (as Robin and Starman) responded to Hugo Strange's latest attack. The attack knocked out Ted, but also led Dick to be awkwardly reunited with the doppelgänger of his deceased mentor--a reunion he was all but comfortable with.
Within the context of the story, Dick reluctantly teamed up with the Earth-1 Batman to help stop Hugo Strange from destroying Gotham City. He made a point of reminding the Earth-1 Bruce that he was closer to his age and that he should treat him as his equal, not like his teenage sidekick on Earth-1. The Earth-1 Batman immediately got the message that Dick was still mourning the loss of his mentor to the point of resenting his presence on his native Earth. Bruce tried to work with what he had, even teaming up with the Earth-2 Kathy Kane Batwoman who was still alive on this Earth. On Earth-1, Kathy Kane had not lived to marry, have children, and see old age like her Earth-2 counterpart did.
Despite being a motley crew of Earth-1 and Earth-2 doppelgängers seeing each other alive and well while remembering their native counterparts were dead (at least in the cases of Bruce and Kathy), Batman, Batwoman, and Robin still managed to stop Hugo Strange from destroying Gotham City. It turned out the elderly Strange was paralysed in his last encounter with the original Batman and Robin when the former was still alive and wanted the dynamic duo to "finish the job" they started. He resented spending the last 20 years of his life in a wheelchair, living in a sanitarium. Eventually Dick warmed up to the Earth-1 Bruce as a hero of his own standing, but still didn't see him as a replacement for his deceased mentor.
Helena eventually came to learn of Dick's adventure with the Earth-1 Batman while she was in Metropolis visiting Lois and Clark with Kara. This subsequently prompted her to pay the Earth-1 Bruce a visit on his native Earth during the holidays in order to catch up. By this point, the Earth-1 Dick Grayson had become a full-time member of the Teen Titans (functioning as their leader) and had moved to Manhattan. Bruce was by this point living alone when Helena came back to Earth-1 in Brave and the Bold #184.
Of all the stories featuring the Earth-2 Huntress with the Earth-1 Batman, I would argue Brave and the Bold #184 is the most significant of these stories. The story was written during a time when the Earth-1 Bruce was dealing with the fact his Dick Grayson had moved on with his life and was back to working without a partner. It was also a story that showed the importance of the Earth-1 Bruce Wayne having a family of sorts, given how easily prone he is to self-destructive behaviour in a time of personal crisis. The story in Brave and the Bold #184 centred on this very topic.
Prior to Helena's arrival on Earth-1, Commissioner Gordon had solicited Batman's help to track down a criminal that had been on his radar for a while. Batman agreed to help, but quickly discovered the man he had tracked down also had records on his father (Thomas Wayne) laundering money to the mob, which shook him. Helena arrived just in time to help him sort out the mystery, or at least motivate him to do so. From Helena's POV, the evidence of Thomas Wayne's criminal activities were out of character. The existing evidence pointed the dimension-crossing dynamic duo to the doorstep of Thomas' former accountant, Amos Randolph, and later Spurs Sanders, a local crime boss. In both cases, the evidence checked out, which prompted Bruce to seek some alone time. This also left the Huntress to protect the Earth-1 Gotham City on her own.
During the time Bruce was processing the reality his father may have been a criminal in life, Helena found herself saving the life of the criminal Bruce had tracked down earlier--the same one that had records of his father's alleged criminal activities with the mob. It turned out the man was a henchman who was only working for the mob as a way of supporting his family, namely his young son. Since the henchman had already fulfilled "his duty" to the mob, Spurs Sanders ordered his death to tie up a loose end. Upon seeing the Huntress save the man's life to spare his son from a life without parents, Bruce was immediately reminded of the real reason he became Batman.
Being Batman was never just about finding justice for his parents, but also about sparing other children from the traumatic experience of seeing their parents murdered. With this epiphany, Bruce decided--with Helena's help--to dig deeper into his family history and confirm for himself if his father really was a criminal or made to look like one. Using what he knew of his father from the brief time he knew him as a child, Bruce decided to take a closer look at his father's inner circles and especially his closest acquaintances.
The one person that stood out to Bruce the most was Amos Randolph who had an observable nervous tick that was also noticeable in the recorded evidence of "Thomas Wayne's" alleged transactions with the mob. In addition to the fact Thomas would've never personally made any transactions with the mob, the nervous tick was what gave Amos away as his father's impersonator. Though Thomas was posthumously cleared of any wrongdoing, the fact is Bruce would not have thought to look further into the case had Helena not been there to challenge the existing evidence.
While the Silver Age Bruce and Helena didn't interact much following the events of Brave and the Bold #184, her existence still changed this version of Bruce in a profound way. Knowledge of his Golden Age counterpart's life gave him hope for his own future and that of Selina Kyle as well. He rationalised that if the Golden Age Catwoman was able to change for the better and eventually married his Golden Age counterpart, there was a high possibility the Catwoman native to his world could end up the same way.
Additionally, while the Silver Age Selina Kyle never found out that the Huntress she fought a while back was the daughter of her Golden Age counterpart, she still followed in the footsteps of Helena's mother. In the same way that the Golden Age Selina wanted to put her life as Catwoman behind her on Earth-2, the Earth-1 Selina also found herself wanting to move on from that life as well. Shortly after Helena's last visit to Earth-1, Bruce and Selina started growing closer together as people, and eventually pursued a romantic relationship. Though not exactly the same as that of Helena's parents, the legacy of the Golden Age Bruce and Selina still had a ripple effect on the Silver Age couple.
COFOUNDING INFINITY INC
The first time a younger generation of superheroes was seen applying for Justice Society membership since the 1970s was in Infinity Inc #1. Since both Huntress and Power Girl had been active members of the team for almost a decade, the newer heroes probably figured they had a chance at joining the legendary team. Not only were Huntress and Power Girl the youngest members of the group, but they were also the successors of Batman and Superman, their world's first two superheroes.
The new young heroes that were looking to join the Justice Society were themselves connected to the older members in some capacity. Fury was the daughter of Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor while her boyfriend, the Silver Scarab, was the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Their friend, Northwind, was also connected to the Hawks through one of their colleagues who had fathered him with a member of a race of bird people. Their other friend, Nuklon, was the god son of the original Atom, Al Pratt. The two late comers who were not affiliated with this small group of friends that also sought membership into the Justice Society were the twin siblings Jade and Obsidian who were the biological children of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.
While this young group of heroes had connections to existing Justice Society members and possessed unique skills and powers that would be useful to the team, they were still denied membership due to lack of experience. The fact that some of the older members were their parents also factored into their decision to reject their children's membership. This did not go well for everyone involved, but no one was more affected by this generational kerfuffle than Huntress and Power Girl as they were readily accepted when they first joined. This not only made them question if they were valued members of the team, but also if they really wanted to be a part of a team that were prejudiced against young people.
Huntress and Power Girl temporarily left the Justice Society to try and sort things out with the young heroes their respective team rejected, followed by the Star-Spangled Kid who also left the team to join them. After introducing themselves to one another, each of the heroes realised they had something common: they were all legacy heroes. With this realisation, the Star-Spangled Kid proposed creating their own team to succeed the Justice Society called "Infinity Inc" with Los Angeles as their base of operations.
None of the young heroes were sure that they would be onboard with the formation of a new team until they were forced to work together to combat both the Ultra-Humanite and the Justice Society when they succumbed to the dark energy of the waters of Koehaha, aka the stream of ruthlessness. On their first case together, each of the team members learned what their strengths and weaknesses were as individuals and how they functioned together as a team.
In many ways, this experience boosted the confidence of each of the young heroes and made them realise their full potential. If they couldn't be mentored by the older Justice Society heroes, they could help each other out and grow together as a team. While this was a great incentive for the young heroes (many of whom were in their early 20s and late teens) to form their own team, it also made Huntress and Power Girl realise their place within this new team.
While Huntress and Power Girl were certainly closer in age to their new comrades, they were also far more experienced heroes than they were. As such, there was still a significant power imbalance. Rather than fighting alongside a generation of heroes with a level of experience that mirrored their own, they would end up functioning as the mentors in this new team. They would most likely find themselves leading these new young heroes with the Star-Spangled Kid, who was also sponsoring them. Neither one felt that this was a right fit for them and ultimately concluded that their place was with the Justice Society after all.
After Huntress and Power Girl helped form the new team in Infinity Inc #1-12, they subsequently returned to their lives in Gotham and rejoined the Justice Society.
THE DARK SIDE OF LEGACY
Despite these positive experiences Dick and Helena had during their superhero careers, something about the legacies of Bruce and Selina still haunted them both. In Dick's case, he never stopped feeling indebted to Bruce despite being a middle-aged man in his early 50s at the start of the 1980s. Even in death, Dick was never able to challenge Bruce's authority, even when the latter wrote a false diary accusing the Justice Society of treason the year of his death in the four-issue miniseries America vs the Justice Society.
Dick's unwillingness to challenge Bruce's authority was what nearly severed his relationship with the Justice Society when he took the opposing side of their case in the US Supreme Court following the mainstream media publication of Batman's diary. It especially put a strain on his relationship with Helena when she offered to represent the Justice Society in court. It wasn't until Dick realised Bruce had created an elaborate hoax to publicly expose Per Degaton as a serious threat that Dick felt ashamed for his role in their court hearing. Though both Helena and the Justice Society were able to forgive him, this was still a low point in Dick's life, and one of the few ways Bruce's influence impacted Dick in a negative way.
On Helena's side of her family legacy, she was never the type of person to possess an unwavering loyalty to her parents the way Dick had for Bruce. Though she loved both of her parents and was proud to carry on their legacies as their daughter, she also did not agree with certain aspects of their characters. One thing that Helena disliked about her father was his difficulty in trusting other people, most notably later on in his life. She especially resented the way his trust issues would hurt other important people in her life such as the Justice Society and the way it affected Dick in particular, resulting in the fights they had during the events of America vs the Justice Society.
Another way Bruce's legacy affected Helena was the fact that he had become a powerful legend in both Gotham and the entire world. With such big boots for her to fill, Helena wasn't always sure that she would stand out the way her father did, especially with the reality that people would always compare her performance as the Huntress with that of her father as Batman. One thing Helena was definitely sure about was wanting to make a name for herself as an individual and exist outside of her father's shadow.
Helena didn't want to be remembered as "The Batman's Daughter" as much as she wanted people to think of her as the Huntress--a hero of her own standing. She wanted to create her own legacy, not ride the coattails of her father's legacy. While Helena--for the most part--did achieve her goal of becoming a hero of her own standing in Gotham, she was still not a household name around the world either as Helena Wayne or the Huntress. At least she wasn't until she represented the Justice Society in the highly publicised Supreme Court hearing detailed in America vs the Justice Society.
In addition to Helena constantly finding herself in competition with her father in creating her own legacy, Helena was also frequently subjected to sexist behaviour from men, both in her actual profession and as the Huntress. In some ways, a combination of both circumstances caused Helena to become a more violent crime-fighter in order to make men take her seriously as a threat. This was certainly at the heart and centre of Joey Cavalieri's run on the character in Wonder Woman when he took over writing duties from her co-creator, Paul Levitz, starting with issue #296.
Another major theme that was explored by Joey Cavalieri during his run on Helena Wayne's Huntress stories was her relationship to her mother, specifically the negative aspect of it. While Helena proud herself in having a mother who was assertive and taught her how to carve her place in a world of men, she also feared that she could one day be tempted to follow in her mother's foot steps.
In the same way that her mother turned to a life of crime as a way of empowering herself, Helena found herself asking if she was not too far behind in that regard. After all, her behaviour as the Huntress was becoming increasingly violent and she was becoming increasingly withdrawn from the most important people in her life. In addition to that, she also felt thrilled breaking and entering into highly secure places because it made her feel sharp and smarter. How long before Helena would lose complete control of her inhibitions? What truth would be revealed about herself if she truly let herself go? Would she end up being more like her father, her mother, or both?
These were the kinds of questions Joey Cavalieri was on the brink of answering when Crisis on Infinite Earths began in 1985. Prior to DC deciding to use this major event to reboot their entire multiverse into a single-shared universe, the original plan was to conclude this story in a Huntress miniseries with the potential to become an ongoing comic. By this point, Helena Wayne had become a successful breakthrough character for DC and they were clearly interested in capitalising on her character.
REBOOTS AND RETCONS
DC still wanted to capitalise on the idea of the Huntress, but not as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. They wanted her to become someone else entirely in order to fit the direction of this new rebooted universe. This was the logic that factored into the decision to reboot Helena Wayne into a brand new character named Helena Bertinelli with the same writer who was originally planned to write Helena Wayne's first solo comic, Joey Cavalieri. This was a change that stuck for almost 20 years until the 2006 event comic, Infinite Crisis, re-acknowledged the pre-Crisis continuity--and with it--Helena Wayne as the original Huntress.
Since then, DC had struggled to find a way to reinstate Helena Wayne back into mainstream DC continuity. They first tried to achieve this by creating a new version of the pre-Crisis character in the new multiverse that was established post Infinite Crisis. They then found a way to retcon the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli as having been the original Earth-2 Helena Wayne Huntress this whole time by rebooting the DC Universe once again with the 2011 event comic Flashpoint.
In the new timeline, "Helena Bertinelli" had always been aware she was Helena Wayne, but had to live someone else's life in order to exist on an Earth where her parents were the same age as her. This new version of Helena Wayne also came with a new history and originated on an Earth-2 that was a significant departure from the pre-Crisis original. Though she had eventually returned to this new Earth-2 with Power Girl (who was once again her best friend), the future of this new Earth-2 and these versions of Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L were left uncertain by the events of DC Universe Rebirth #1.
The Rebirth one-shot not only established that a Watchmen character (Dr. Manhattan) had been tampering with the DC Universe for quite some time, but had also been tampering with the histories of each of DC's respective characters, including Huntress and Power Girl, who--by this point--could still turn out to be the pre-Crisis originals.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
What I do know, however, is that I personally want to see the original Helena Wayne Huntress return to mainstream continuity as originally conceived by her creators Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton. For me, Helena Wayne is more than just getting back the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. It's also about bringing back the original concept of Helena as the legacy character she's meant to exist as.
It's about reinstating her as the original Huntress that later paved the road for Helena Bertinelli, who now exists as a separate character from Helena Wayne. It's also about letting Power Girl have her best friend back and be the new generation World's Finest team they were always meant to exist as. It's also about restoring her place in the Justice Society as the hero who carries on the legacies of her parents (the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman) while creating one of her own as the Huntress.
As I've very thoroughly documented on this one post (and in countless other posts) there is a rich, unique history and significant relationships that accompany Helena Wayne as a character that I would love to see reinstated. As you can already imagine, all of Helena's original developments are a big part of why I heavily invest in her as a character. If I get all of that back post-Rebirth, that'll be all that will make me happy moving forward.