Thursday 31 October 2019

The Best of the Huntress: Wonder Woman #273 Review

Title: Wonder Woman #273
Story: The Girl in the Gilded Cage
Characters: Huntress (Helena Wayne), Harry Sims, Carole Martin, Solomon Grundy
Creators: Paul Levitz (writer), Joe Staton (artist)
Publication Date: 14 August 1980
Available In: Unavailable (for now...)

Summary: The Huntress has been captured! Desperate for female companionship, Solomon Grundy has decided to make the Huntress his captive in place of the broken female statue he stole from the Gotham museum. But the Huntress is not about to become anyone's sex slave, and certainly not to a zombie-like creature. While the Huntress works on her escape plan and bring Grundy to justice, at the offices of Cranston, Grayson, and Wayne, District Attorney Harry Sims waits for Helena Wayne to arrive to work in order to seek her advice on a bill he wants to propose to restrict vigilante activity in Gotham!

Review: Just in time for Halloween this year, we conclude Helena Wayne's scary encounter with Solomon Grundy as he attempted to make her his sex slave in place of the stone statue of a woman he stole from the Gotham museum. I can't think of anything scarier for a woman than being forced into sex slavery with the constant threat of violence, and even murder should she 'step out of line.' And that's just before you get to the part about Grundy being undead.

With Grundy being a villain, his narrative is not particularly unusual, but it does, however, touch upon a very real threat women from all walks of life experience: the threat of sexual violence, and in this particular case, sexual slavery. While Grundy is no Prince Charming and isn't the kind of man any living woman would fall head over heels for, monsters who dehumanise and objectify women the way he does do exist in real life. They just happen to be better-looking, which is usually part of the trap that facilitates luring vulnerable women into a life of sex slavery.

When it comes to the real life sex trade, the women who are often targeted tend to be women who come from poor families and even poor countries, but they are by no means the only victims. Even wealthy and powerful women who originate in wealthy countries like Helena Wayne can be easily targeted and forced into sexual slavery. The various tactics used by human trafficking rings include buying these women from poor families, scamming them with the promises of marriage and a better way of life, to even just old-fashioned abduction. In the case of Helena Wayne in this story, she fell into the latter category.

Luckily for Helena Wayne, she's not an easy target, even if she unwittingly got herself into a horrifying situation. While the page count didn't facilitate Levitz and Staton to actually depict Helena Wayne's escape, she did, however, think about what she needed to do in order to distract Grundy long enough to facilitate her escape. This effectively demonstrates Helena Wayne's ability for quick-thinking in dangerous situations, which may have been staple to saving her own life.

We also witnessed how Helena Wayne quickly transformed her dangerous situation to her favour. By exploiting Grundy's misogynistic way of thinking, Helena Wayne was able to manipulate his behaviour, which in turn bought her enough time to both escape and setup traps for her own for Grundy. While she ultimately didn't capture Grundy and send him to prison, she was nonetheless effective in stopping him for the time being.

The last major thing that happens in this story that actually leads into the Huntress and Power Girl team-up story I covered in 2015 is the subplot involving Harry Sims, which explores a different theme entirely: should superheroes be allowed to operate in Gotham despite the existence of law enforcement?

Sounds an awful lot like Harry is developing his own version of the Keene Act of 1977 (from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen), but that's literally not even the most interesting part of that story. I'd argue the real driving force of that story is how both Huntress and Power Girl react to the possibility of such a bill being proposed. But for more discussion on that, be sure to visit my actual review on it!


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