Thursday, 3 September 2020

How I Became A Helena Wayne Huntress Fan Part 1

September is a special month for me. Not just because I was born on this month, but also because it's the month of Helena Wayne's canonical birthday, and it is also the month I created this blog almost nine years ago. At the time, I had recently turned 25 and I was still in uni. DC had also rebooted their entire DC Multiverse with The New 52 around this same timeframe. It quickly proved to be a very polarising time to be sure, but it was especially not one of my proudest decades as a blogger. 

What started out as an intent to celebrate the awesome character that is the original Helena Wayne Huntress quickly became an ongoing documentary of all of DC's misfires during the New 52 era. Their complete mismanagement of the Justice Society property during this time made it especially difficult to have anything positive to write about. This was particularly frustrating because the Justice Society happens to be Helena Wayne's house within the DC neighbourhood. 

I remember reflecting on this time back in 2016 (the year the Rebirth era took off) and decided to delete all of those New 52 posts as a way of cleansing my blog from all the negativity and baggage of that era. I instead replaced all those posts with previews of Helena Wayne's New 52 comics and decided to let readers decide for themselves if the New 52 era was their jam or not. 

What I never talked about, however, was how I ended up becoming a Helena Wayne Huntress fan in the first place. I especially never talked about what motivated me to create a blog about her. At best, I've made a few blurbs here and there to that effect, but I never wrote a full origin story. So today—on the day of my birthday—I decided to do something different. Instead of my usual opinion piece on Helena Wayne or the Justice Society property as a whole, I'm going to devote the month of September to detailing my entire journey as a Helena Wayne Huntress fan. It's an interesting tale of near hits and misses, all leading up to one serendipitous moment I never went back from.

Today, for my birthday, I'm going to give you Part 1 of that journey!

1986

Before this story can truly begin, we must start with a timeline of events. We must start with the year 1986. It was a big year for DC Comics. Not only had DC just collapsed their entire multiverse into a single shared universe with the Crisis on Infinite Earths event of 1985, but they were also in the process of rebooting their new DC Universe into something new and different the following year. 

That same year, Watchmen #1 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons made its debut on 05 June 1986. Four months after that, Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns also hit the shelves on 23 October 1986. Both proved to be groundbreaking comics that reshaped the DC landscape for better or worse in the decades that followed. 

Between the releases of Watchmen #1 and Dark Knight Returns, I was born on 03 September 1986. Literally nine months after Crisis on Infinite Earths retconned Helena Wayne out of existence, and two years and two months before the character was rebooted into Helena Bertinelli in The Huntress series that debuted on 14 February 1989. 

I literally arrived in the world at the start of DC's first major reboot. I also arrived just in time to see Helena Wayne off and welcome Helena Bertinelli as her post-Crisis reincarnation. But seeing as I was two years old at the time, I was far too young for Helena Bertinelli to be my first Huntress. I was not, however, too young to become invested in DC characters right away!

1993  

The 1990s was an interesting decade to grow up in. Comic books were no longer being sold on spinner racks at convenience stores like in decades prior, but my first exposure to DC were the Tim Burton Batman films: both the 1989 film and Batman Returns in 1992. 

Between the two, Batman Returns was my favourite film because I absolutely loved Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman in that film. Specifically, I loved the fact she was a woman completely fed up with being life's bitch and was going to 'fuck shit up' as a way of making her point. It was a point well made because she made a lasting impression on me when I was only six years old. 

Apparently, Catwoman made an impression on the world at large because in 1993, she got her first ongoing comic—simply titled Catwoman—with Jo Duffy and Jim Balent as the creative team. Unfortunately, however, I was still too young to buy these comics. As such, my next exposure to Catwoman was Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted the same year as Batman Returns (complete with a similar tone to Burton), but I didn't start watching the cartoon until 1993. 

As a child, Batman: The Animated Series set the gold standard for me on what a Batman story should be. I loved the classic noir look and tone, coupled with elements of gothic storytelling. Batman was a dark character, but still a hero who did what he did out of the goodness of his heart. His rogues were scary but also equally compelling and complex as characters. 

Amongst my favourite villains from Batman: The Animated Series included the Riddler, Two-Face, and the Joker. My absolute favourite rogue at the time, however, was still Catwoman because she was neither good nor bad, but did what she felt was right for herself. She was also incredibly smart and especially talented at what she did. Her heart was always in the right place, but her criminal means of achieving her goals often put her at odds with Batman. 

I loved the fact that Catwoman would sometimes be an ally to Batman, but would still live her life on her own terms, never completely following Batman's rules. That always stood out to me about Catwoman because it allowed her to be a complex anti-heroine who was also morally grey. I especially admired her sophistication and her finesse. She was a true femme fatale who valued her independence and was (in my seven-year-old mind) my favourite DC superhero. 

As a child, I didn't care that my classmates thought of Catwoman as a villain. To me, any woman who played by her own rules and didn't allow the men in her life tell her what to do was a hero in my book. Catwoman was the first female character I got exposed to as a child that set the gold standard for the way I would invest in future female characters, including two of Batman's other female rogues: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. The latter especially played a huge role in my future investment in Helena Wayne than one might expect!

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be posted on Helena Wayne's birthday on 07 September!

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