Friday 5 March 2021

Infinite Frontier Is Here Part 02: Where Does Helena Wayne Fit In?

With the debut of Infinite Frontier #0 this past Tuesday, there are probably more questions than answers as to how some of our favourite characters fit into this new infinite continuity of infinite possibilities. Two of those questions I have concern the Earth-2 Huntress and Power Girl: 'where are they now?' and 'what are their futures?'

At best, with Power Girl, we can probably expect her to still be the Earth-2 survivor of Crisis on Infinite Earths while the rest of Justice Society were all integrated into the main DC Earth. The events of Infinite Crisis that saw the brief return of the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane are most likely still a part of Power Girl's canon in the Infinite Frontier era. But what about her long lost best friend, the original Huntress from Earth-2?

One thing we know about the Infinite Frontier era so far is that DC is bringing all of their characters back to their more iconic status quo while integrating some of their more progressive developments from the post-Flashpoint era. We especially observed this with the original Golden Age version of Alan Scott who explicitly came out as gay to his children Jade and Obsidian (who is also gay) in Infinite Frontier #0. Alan Scott was originally rebooted as a gay man in the New 52 relaunch of Earth-2 in 2012.

Infinite Frontier #0 also saw the return of the original pre-Crisis Infinity Inc team, complete with Lyta Trevor as a member. Whether or not she's back to being the daughter of the Golden Age Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor has not yet been revealed, but there is a very strong chance that she is. This especially likely when you consider Wonder Woman will now be active in the Justice Society during World War II in the new timeline. It's also worth mentioning that the original Seven Soldiers of Victory re-acknowledged the Golden Age versions of Green Arrow and Speedy as past members.

Knowing what we know so far, what can we speculate about Helena Wayne's place in the DC Omniverse for the Infinite Frontier era? What is her iconic status quo and what developments from the New 52 can we possibly see integrated into her character moving forward?

When Helena Wayne was originally created by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, and Bob Layton in 1977, they always intended for the character to stand out as a heroine of her own standing, complete with her own identity, but still part of a rich legacy. She was thus created as the daughter of the Golden Age versions of Batman and Catwoman who resided on Earth-2 and grew up to become the heroine known as the Huntress. In addition to succeeding her father as Gotham's guardian, the Huntress also joined the Justice Society of America where she met and befriended Power Girl, who is the Earth-2 version of Superman's famous cousin, Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl. 

Helena Wayne lasted as the Huntress from 1977 to 1986, the year DC rebooted their entire multiverse into a single Earth with the event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Helena Wayne initially survived long enough to see the new post-Crisis Earth, but was no longer acknowledged by the new Earth's history and was promptly killed in the final battle against the Anti-Monitor. Three years after that, the Huntress made a comeback, not as Helena Wayne, but as Helena Bertinelli in 1989.

Two decades after Helena Wayne's death, the events of Infinite Crisis from 2006 re-canonised her as a separate character from the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli Huntress. Helena Wayne was once again acknowledged as the daughter of the Golden Age Batman and Catwoman from Earth-2, and was once again recognised as the original Huntress who was also a member of the Justice Society. Her friendship with Power Girl became central to the latter's narrative just before Flashpoint rebooted the DC Multiverse again, this time leading into the New 52 era in 2011.

During the New 52, the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli Huntress was retconned as having been the original Helena Wayne Huntress from Earth-2 the whole time, but her history was now different from before. In the New 52's reboot of Earth-2, Helena Wayne started out has her parents' Robin before the latter died in a war with Darkseid. The events of that war also resulted in Helena Wayne getting stranded on the main DC Earth, along with Power Girl who was going by Supergirl at the time. It was on this Earth that Kara and Helena ended up taking up their more iconic identities of Power Girl and the Huntress with the latter also taking up 'Bertinelli' as her last name.

After being stranded on the main DC Earth for five years, the Earth-2 Huntress and Power Girl eventually made it back to their original Earth in 2014. During that time, a new version of Helena Bertinelli appeared as an agent of Spiral, and took up the Huntress identity two years later in 2016. By then, the previous Helena Wayne Huntress was no longer known to still be active by the main Earth's residents.

By 2017, the Justice League became aware of the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights Metal, which had its own version of Earth-2 if it had survived Crisis on Infinite Earths and became the base template for the post-Crisis continuity. On this version of the post-Crisis Earth that resided in the Dark Multiverse, Helena Wayne survived and lived on to eventually use the New 52 version of her Huntress costume. Interaction between the Dark Multiverse and the normal DC Multiverse led to the events of Dark Nights Death Metal that destroyed the New 52 multiverse and rebooted it as an infinite omniverse.

Now that all of the DC timelines have been seemingly merged into a more streamlined continuity known as the Linearverse, how can we expect Helena Wayne to make a comeback in the Infinite Frontier era?

From Helena Wayne's entire four decade history, we know this much about her mainstream canon:
  • Earth-2 Daughter of Golden Age Batman and Catwoman
  • Original Huntress
  • Member of the Justice Society of America
  • World's Finest with Power Girl
  • Casualty of Crisis on Infinite Earths
From what Generations: Forged established of the Linearverse, Batman has been around since 1939 and has undergone several changes throughout the decades. It is possible that his original Golden Age marriage to Catwoman still happened in 1955 with Helena Wayne still being born in 1957. It's still possible that he died in 1979 with Catwoman dying in 1976 before that. 

It's still possible that Crisis on Infinite Earths still happened as it originally did, but instead of Helena perishing like before, she might now be time displaced, which could setup a future Justice Society storyline, or at the very least a Power Girl storyline. As for Bruce and Selina themselves, their Golden Age, Silver Age, post-Crisis, and post-Flashpoint histories might now be merged, but with perhaps one detail of their history omitted. They might both remember having been married in the past, but no longer are because of changes to their timeline.

So what could be the fate of Helena Wayne if either Power Girl or the Justice Society find her? Well, since DC wants all of the classic versions of their characters to exist on the main DC Earth, it's far more likely she'll become a resident of the main DC Earth. She will just have to adapt to living on a world where she is now the same age as her parents and is no longer acknowledged as their daughter. Like Power Girl, she will have to rebuild her life from the ground up. This is where her New 52 history could be merged with her pre-Crisis history.

Like in the New 52 Worlds' Finest series, Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L could continue operating globally as Huntress and Power Girl instead of a fixed location like when they resided on the pre-Crisis Earth-2. Helena Wayne could even end up exchanging her pre-Crisis costume for the New 52 version of her Huntress costume to symbolise her new status quo. The New 52 Huntress costume will not only avoid drawing the attention of both Batman and Catwoman on the main DC Earth (at least for a while), but Helena Wayne will also still be able to retain her original Huntress identity, complete a similar design.

When it comes to deciding on a permanent residence, it's very likely (if not an absolute certainty) that Helena Wayne would choose to reside in New York. Not just because that's where she and Power Girl were residing during the New 52, but also because thats where Power Girl's company, StarrWare, is based. It's also the location of the Justice Society's headquarters, which is where she is likely to meet for a JSA meeting. Since Power Girl already has an established life as StarrWare's CEO, Karen Starr, Helena Wayne could just as easily resume her life as a lawyer (her original profession pre-Crisis) in New York under her own name.

So now we get to the elephant in the room: wouldn't the main Earth versions of Batman and Catwoman eventually become aware of her presence if she's operating globally? Absolutely, and it could even be a future storyline. How do Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle reconcile with their long lost daughter from a marriage that happened in another lifetime? How will Helena Wayne feel to reconcile with the parents who are no longer her parents? What kind of relationship would they have? 

Realistically speaking, I can only see Bruce staying in touch with Helena and occasionally working with her on some cases just like he did with her pre-Crisis when a version of him resided on Earth-1. Selina on the other hand may be more reluctant to accept the knowledge of a lost daughter that originally resided on a parallel world, and may not want to stay in touch with Helena. Not because she is incapable of loving Helena, but because it will be a painful reminder of a reality that no longer exists. Since Selina's life is now different from before, the presence of an adult daughter with the man she loves would be too much for her to process. At best, Selina might warm up to Helena eventually, but it won't be a 'right away' thing.

But wait! What about Tom King's Batman/Catwoman series? Isn't the Helena Wayne that's appearing in that story supposed to be the main Earth version? In short: no.

Back in June of 2020, Batman group editor Ben Abernathy explicitly confirmed that Tom King is no longer the architect of the Batman line moving forward. His Batman/Catwoman story is now existing as its own separate thing to conclude his Batman run, and that the main Batman line is now in the hands of James Tynion IV. 

In addition to Tynion, current Detective Comics writer, Mariko Tamaki, is also serving as an architect as her ideas are also shaping Batman's future storyline. Catwoman writer, Ram V, similarly has very different plans for Selina Kyle. DC's most recent event, Future State, further confirmed the new status quo for Batman and Catwoman in the main DC canon, and the future depicted in Future State does not acknowledge the one depicted in Tom King's Batman/Catwoman.

At best, the future depicted in Tom King's Batman/Catwoman most likely exists as a possible future in Hypertime, or it could even exist as its own alternate universe similar to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Sean Murphy's White Knight. At best, the high sales of Batman/Catwoman could result in future instalments set in that particular universe in a similar fashion to Dark Knight Returns and White Knight. But the story itself is not likely be the characters' mainstream DC canon. The way the characters are depicted in Tom King's future is too far afield for the mainstream versions of the characters, especially Helena Wayne.

If any ideas from King's Batman/Catwoman makes it into the mainstream DC canon, it will most likely be the introduction of the Phantasm due to the character's high popularity. The original Helena Wayne Huntress could also end up coming out as queer, especially considering how very close she was to Power Girl during the New 52. Whether she gets established as bisexual to not invalidate her past romantic relationships with men, or goes a similar route as Alan Scott will be the purview of her future writers. Personally, it would make more sense for Helena to be bisexual as her behaviour in the post-Flashpoint continuity was more noticeably bisexual.

What do you guys think will be Helena Wayne's future knowing what we know about both the Linearverse and the DC Omniverse? Where would you like to see Helena Wayne show up? Let us know in the comments below!