Saturday 21 September 2019

Batman Day 2019: What If Helena Wayne Survived Crisis On Infinite Earths?

The idea for this post was actually presented to me by another fan on Twitter who requested that I write about how Helena Wayne's life would've panned out from her last pre-Crisis appearance (Crisis on Infinite Earths) to now. Specifically, what would her status quo be? What relationships would she still have? Would she still have the same career? Live in the same location? Wear the same costume? Have unique gadgets and vehicles to assist her in her Huntress missions? Would her role in the Justice Society be the same or change?

All good questions that can be addressed in at least three different ways depending on whether or not you want to address the major elephant in the proverbial room: the fact that Helena Wayne 'reincarnated' as Helena Bertinelli post-Crisis.

Now, before we go further, I would like to point out that I am more than aware most Huntress fans see the Wayne and Bertinelli iterations as separate characters, which is an entirely logical take. But the fact remains that is not DC's official position on the character who maintain (to this day) that the mainstream Huntress is one single character with two distinct histories.

Per DC's take, the Huntress before Crisis on Infinite Earths was Helena Wayne. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, she became Helena Bertinelli, and more or less stayed that way ever since. Other versions of Helena Wayne who have appeared since then have been considered 'derivative versions' of the mainstream Huntress.

Taking that into account, there are three scenarios I can think of that could (or could've) affected Helena Wayne's narrative following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths depending on whether or not we address the Helena Bertinelli side of her equation.

SCENARIO 01: Helena Wayne rebuilds her life from scratch on the post-Crisis Earth.

Let's pretend Crisis on Infinite Earths did not reboot the DC Multiverse into a single shared universe where everyone starts over from scratch. Let's pretend all it did was merge the multiverse into a single universe and everyone kept their memories intact and were simply forced to live out their lives on this new Earth. What would this mean for Helena Wayne who was erased from history on this new Earth?

From Crisis on Infinite Earths #11, we learned that being erased from reality was a particularly traumatising experience for Helena Wayne. With her parents erased from history and possibly merged with the Earth-1 versions of Batman and Catwoman, maintaining her relationships with Power Girl and the Justice Society would become even more important to her. This would especially be true if the Earth-2 Dick Grayson was still killed off at the conclusion of Crisis like he was originally. So how would Helena Wayne choose to rebuild her life under those circumstances?

As one of the multiverse survivors, Helena Wayne would most definitely find herself bonding more strongly with Power Girl, who would also be in a similar position. The Justice Society heroes would also assist them with sorting out how they're going to live out their lives moving forward. I think the first thing that would be top priority for Helena Wayne would be to find out which of her relationships are still intact.

It's highly unlikely that her boyfriend, Harry Sims, would still be around as she remembers him, along with her colleagues at Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne since they wouldn't have survived the destruction of Earth-2. She would then try to find out if they were reborn on the new Earth and whether or not she could rebuild those relationships. If she can't rebuild those relationships either because they don't exist or are radically different from the people she remembers, then she would probably try to move on from them.

One relationship she would definitely try to maintain is the one she has with the Earth-1 Batman since he is the closest she has to having her father alive. With his memories still intact, Earth-1 Bruce Wayne would no doubt give Helena access to resources to help rebuild her life and would probably help create false documents to pass her off as his 'cousin'. Helena's relationship to Earth-1 Bruce would also give her incentive to stay in Gotham and would look forward to working with him on cases. She would most likely keep her original profession of practising law in Gotham and very little of her life would change on that front.

Additional relationships she would want to build are the ones with the Earth-1 Dick Grayson (Nightwing), even though she would probably find it strange to be older than him this time around. Dick would probably also still be weirded out by the idea of Huntress being the adult daughter of Batman and Catwoman, but would eventually warm up to her. The one member of her family she would probably struggle to initiate any kind of relationship with would be with the Earth-1 version of her mother since this version of Selina Kyle doesn't trust easily and would not respond well to an adult woman claiming to be her daughter.

Beyond needing to rebuild her most important relationships and use the assistance of her friends and allies to help re-establish herself on a new Earth, I think very little of Helena Wayne's life would change moving forward. Despite now existing as a multiverse anomaly, Helena Wayne would most likely carry on as if she was still living on Earth-2. She would most likely continue fighting alongside the Justice Society of America and occasionally help out the Justice League. Her primary partner on solo missions would most likely be Power Girl and Batman.

Over a period of time, she would probably upgrade her costume and weaponry, and may possibly acquire specialised vehicles such a motorcycle and an aeroplane for when she needs to travel as the Huntress. Occasionally, I can even see Batman letting her drive the Batmobile.

SCENARIO 02: Helena Wayne was Helena Bertinelli the whole time.

Sadly, because Crisis on Infinite Earths did reboot the DC Multiverse into a single-shared universe and everyone was rebooted from scratch, the Huntress was reborn as Helena Bertinelli. She lasted in this incarnation for over two decades before Flashpoint retconned her back into Helena Wayne with a new and separate Helena Bertinelli debuting for the Prime Earth continuity.

While the Helena Bertinelli incarnation allowed the Huntress to continue existing post-Crisis, the change also resulted in profound losses for the Huntress during that time. She was no longer the daughter of Batman and Catwoman (despite constant references to the fact), so their interactions were awkward at best and antagonistic at worst. She was no longer Power Girl's best friend because she too was existing as someone else entirely (as an Atlantean). She was also no longer a member of the Justice Society because without her original parentage, she had no lingering connections to DC's Golden Age history or legacy.

I would argue the post-Crisis era was a dark time for the Huntress because with all of her original relationships and identity severed, she was now a fully isolated loner rebuilding her life entirely from scratch, and not under the best circumstances. The biggest loss for her was losing Batman as her father because she lost his emotional support as well. It wasn't until she became friends with the Birds of Prey that she finally found a solid place in this new DC Universe, but she was still very much divorced from her previous life and relationships as Helena Wayne.

By the time she went back to being Helena Wayne, it was under the circumstances of a whole new reboot (Flashpoint), which meant that the repercussions of the previous reboot were never dealt with at all. While her friendship with Power Girl was reinstated, her life as 'Helena Bertinelli' was swept under the rug as an identity she merely 'borrowed'. Eventually she went back to Earth-2 (again not under the best circumstances), while the new Prime Earth Helena Bertinelli took over the Huntress mantle with no acknowledgement of Wayne's Huntress on the same Earth.

Wow! What a messy turn of events the reality turned out to be! The question now is how the heck do you make sense of all this clusterfuck? Well, see, luckily, in a metaverse as malleable as the main DC Universe where the rules change all the time (and often in cosmic ways), you can literally do a whole story that answers the central question of the Huntress' messy reboots:

Who changed Helena Wayne into Helena Bertinelli post-Crisis and why did they change her this way? More importantly: who would benefit from Helena Wayne becoming Helena Bertinelli?

Obviously, the answer to the 'why the Huntress changed?' question goes back to the idea that Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle can't be married because the marriage would age Bruce and end his need for Batman. The question now is who in the DC Universe would have a problem with that to the point of going out of their cosmic way to sever Bruce's relationships with both his wife and daughter?

Well, the Joker would certainly be an obvious choice because his entire existence hinges on Batman sticking around. Without Batman, the Joker has no purpose, and without a purpose, none of his crimes have a meaningful punchline. But for the Joker to cosmically change the Huntress would require him to have multiverse-altering powers, which he clearly doesn't have, nor is it really his style.

Who then would have a personal stake in 'retooling' the Batman's daughter in a truly damaging way? Given the narrative of the Rebirth continuity, the only other logical choice would be the Batman Who Laughs. Think about it: Since Dark Nights Metal, it's been established that the Batman Who Laughs (aka a Jokerised Bruce Wayne) is quite capable of travelling between the Dark Multiverse and the normal 52 Multiverse, even influencing 'the narrative' of the main DC Universe.

The Batman Who Laughs' own narrative has even consistently centred on him wanting to corrupt the Prime Earth Bruce Wayne, which has caused him to target alternate versions of himself who have led happy lives. This included another version of Bruce Wayne who married Selina Kyle on a different Earth, complete with a daughter of his own. This would naturally put Helena Wayne in the direct path of the Batman Who Laughs with a strong target on her back.

Considering how Helena Wayne made her own father happy on pre-Crisis Earth-2 and even inspired positive feelings in his Earth-1 counterpart, it would definitely be up the Batman Who Laughs' alley to corrupt Helena Wayne and turn her into a worse version of herself. Or, at least, a version of herself Bruce Wayne would easily dislike, which in turn would be a source of emotional suffering for Helena that would be consistent with the post-Crisis Bertinelli. In his own twisted way, the Batman Who Laughs would see his own corruption of Helena Wayne as his own 'creation' and thereby think of her as 'his child'.

Since Helena Wayne did originally survive the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and did briefly exist on the new Earth when it first formed, it could easily be explained that she wasn't actually killed and was instead whisked away to the Dark Multiverse by the Batman Who Laughs and brought her back as Helena Bertinelli, complete with new memories. Since the post-Flashpoint Helena Wayne still 'remembers' her past as Helena Bertinelli, it would certainly make sense to bring back this version of the character and do a story that has her examine her entire history from pre-Crisis to post-Crisis to post-Flashpoint, leading her to conclude that someone had been manipulating her timeline this entire time. Since she too is a detective, she would easily deduce the Batman Who Laughs as the responsible party.

With the Batman Who Laughs' access to Dark Multiverse, her various origins as Helena Bertinelli post-Crisis could easily be established as lives she experienced in the Dark Multiverse, which would at least explain the various changes she has seen, along with the radical personality shifts she experienced. Even the current Earth-2 that she's supposedly from in this continuity could be easily explained as an Earth in the Dark Multiverse instead of Earth-2 proper given the apocalyptic nature of this world. This would at least give her a reason to come back to the main DC Earth.

Once you get Helena Wayne to realise what's really been happening with her life following two cosmic reboots, the next step would be for her to regain control of her own life and reclaim her original identity. Reclaim the person she is meant to be, which also means repairing her most important relationships, such as with the Prime Earth Batman, Power Girl, and the Justice Society for a start.

She would also need to meet up with the Prime Earth Helena Bertinelli, who could easily be established as the one who would've originated on Earth-8 per 2006's Infinite Crisis. Specifically, she would need to make amends for the fact that she lived as Helena Bertinelli for so long (even though it wasn't her fault) and especially clear things up with the Birds of Prey. Once Helena Wayne finishes doing damage control, the rest of her journey could now centre on going back to being the pre-Crisis Huntress we all know and love.

SCENARIO 03: Justice Doom War retcons Helena Wayne's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

While Scenario 02 would be a logical way to clean up the mess of both the Crisis and Flashpoint reboots in a way that lines up with DC's official position on the character, there is still a third (and possibly better) way Helena Wayne can be reinstated, and that is through the Justice Doom War narrative in Scott Snyder's Justice League.

Now, admittedly, there isn't a whole lot to write about at this time because the story started just last month and we're only now starting to see characters (like the Justice Society) that were retconned in the current continuity resurface. From the solicitations leading up to December, it sounds like we can expect another multiverse reboot of a similar vein to 2006's Infinite Crisis. However, instead of retconning everything that came before like with the previous two reboots, it looks like this particular 'reboot' will work to restore characters, stories, and concepts that were previously erased back into the current continuity, which would be the best case scenario.

With Hypertime being a centre piece of the Justice Doom War narrative, Hypertime could easily be used to restore the pre-Crisis Earth-2 and have the characters pick up where they left off as if Crisis on Infinite Earths had never happened. The only major change I can see happening is that the characters would now be existing in the current century, but the original concept of the Justice Society appearing decades earlier, complete with the generational legacy would still be there.

Another possible outcome of Justice Doom War could be a soft rebooting of the main DC Earth itself to restore characters that were previously erased, and even integrate ones that historically existed on a different Earth like the original Helena Wayne Huntress and Power Girl. With current developments on Batman and Catwoman on the main DC Universe, it's possible that Helena Wayne being integrated into the main Earth is already in the works, though this does leave the question of 'where does this leave Power Girl?'

In my opinion, it wouldn't make sense to have Power Girl exist as the sole survivor of Earth-2 from Crisis on Infinite Earths again as Justice Doom War appears to be rewriting the outcome of that story. In all likelihood, she'll probably end up with a new, but familiar history that still makes her Kryptonian, still related to Superman, but would now exist as a native of the main DC Earth instead of as a survivor of a previous continuity.

In either case, using Hypertime to reinstate the original Helena Wayne Huntress would at least alleviate the character from both the Crisis and Flashpoint reboots, and would still leave the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli available to merge with the current post-Flashpoint version of the character, but this time keeping the appearance of the latter.

Having said all that, how would I want to see Helena Wayne's story unfold post-Justice Doom War? Well...this is the part where I have to wait and see what does end up happening before I offer an opinion, or even a speculation. But I do definitely want to see the character returned to her roots as the original Huntress who builds on the legacies of Batman and Catwoman, as well as the legacy of the Justice Society. I also would like to see her friendship with Power Girl restored, and I want to see her written as a lawyer again, complete with her own law firm. As long as she checks all those boxes moving forward, and as long as she continues to be the hero of her own story, I'll be a very happy fan! :)

1 comment:

  1. Was Helena's body ever found? It's stated in Crisis #12 that a service was held for her, but also that neither her nor Dick's bodies were able to be retrieved for interment. In the world of comics that's a door being left open for their both having survived. Care was taken to secrete the Earth-2 Superman and Lois away, but Powergirl went through all manner of fascinating confusion post-Crisis, so who's to say Helena and Dick didn't experience something similar in the nature of identity crises? There's a story there along the lines of that eight issues of Superman: Lois and Clark, wherein Dan Jurgens had his versions of the couple existing simultaneous with, and ultimately replacing, their replacements in the new continuity. Absent corpses, I say Dick and Helena have been together all this time and keeping a low profile due to their entire histories having been written out of existence...