Of course, I wouldn't be a features writer at CBR today without my Huntress blog, which is now officially 10 years old. Around this time a decade ago, I created this blog to share my love of the original Helena Wayne Huntress –– the character that made me a long-term DC fan.
It's kind of insane to think 10 years have already passed and that this site has grown so much since then. It only made sense to revisit this website with a brand new post on the 10th anniversary of Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads, the miniseries that marked Helena Wayne's New 52 debut!
Looking back on it now, I'd say the New 52 remains a highly controversial reboot to this day. To DC's credit, however, it's understandable why they did the reboot. Sales were low and they needed to revitalise their IPs in a way that attracted new readers. The problem was they did so at the expense of alienating their long-term fans. As such, the New 52 was a short term success at best.
Caught in the crossfire of the New 52's controversial continuity changes was Helena Wayne, the original Huntress that ended up retconning –– at least initially –– her post-Crisis successor, Helena Bertinelli. While a newer version of Helena Bertinelli was eventually introduced three years later in the Grayson series, no in-story explanation was ever offered for why Helena Wayne decided to take up the other Huntress's identity.
For Helena Wayne's New 52 anniversary, I'm going to offer my own take on why Helena Wayne took up the identity of Helena Bertinelli while she was living on Earth-0!
Helena Wayne Was A Shellshocked Teenager
One of the first traumatic experiences Helena had fighting alongside her parents as Robin was the loss of her mother, Selina Kyle. Prior to working as her father's partner, Helena worked primarily alongside her mother solving cases involving abused women and human trafficking –– two very serious issues that are very important to her mother.
During one such investigation, Selina came across an Apokoliptian threat that resulted in her death. Filled with hatred, sorrow, and rage, and very young Helena (maybe around 14 or 15) impulsively attacked the Apokoliptian threat that killed her mother. She nearly got killed herself and only cheated death with the timely arrival of Kara Zor-L, who at the time operated as Supergirl. This was Helena's first encounter with Kara and, from there, the two struck a friendship with each other.
It wasn't long after her mother's death that Apokolips invaded Earth-2 at full force. During the year Helena started working alongside her father as Batman, Helena had developed a noticeably violent fighting style. While resolving a case her mother was working on prior to her death, Helena very mercilessly injured criminals to the point of leaving them in critical condition. This was a major concern for her father, Bruce Wayne.
In the months leading up to the major battle that resulted in his own death, Bruce managed to keep Helena's violent behaviour slightly under control by giving her menial tasks as a sidekick while he handled the more dangerous aspects of a criminal case. After Bruce lost his life to stop Apokolips from completing their invasion of Earth-2, both Helena and Kara fell through an Apokoliptian portal, which brought them to Earth-0.
In having lost both of her parents to Apokolips and getting stranded on a new Earth where Bruce and Selina were still alive but weren't her parents, this took a nasty toll on Helena's still-developing brain. She was no longer just dealing with the trauma of having lost both of her parents under violent circumstances. She was also dealing with the trauma of having lost her original world as well and being forced to reinvent herself on an Earth where she doesn't exist. This last detail most likely facilitated her decision to become Helena Bertinelli on Earth-0.
Helena Wayne Identified With Helena Bertinelli
Helena got the inspiration for her new identity when she saw a man pinned to a wall with crossbow bolts. By age 17, Helena Wayne had developed a new codename as the Huntress and developed a new costume to match her new identity. Although her first Huntress costume had a similar design to the post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli costume, she did not get the costume design idea from Bertinelli but from her mother.
Having used her mother's Catwoman suit as the base template for her own Huntress suit, the only changes Helena made was customise the gloves, boots, mask, and utility belt to be purple. She also gave white accents to her cape and suit, which also resulted in the white cross that was prominently featured on her torso.
Since Catwoman was the main inspiration for Helena's new Huntress identity in the New 52, this also informed what type of crime-fighting she would do on Earth-0: take up cases involving abused women and human trafficking. With her new mission statement realised, she added her iconic crossbow to her tools of trade, and all that was left was for her to develop a civilian identity.
In Grayson Annual #1, it was established that the real Helena Bertinelli had faked her own death to escape a life of organised crime and join Spyral. At some point during her research phase, a teenaged Helena Wayne became aware of Helena Bertinelli's "death" and used that as her new origin story.
In this particular case, Helena Wayne most likely fabricated the narrative of the mafia princess who "died" in the public eye but actually survived the brutal massacre of her family. Using her own "death" as a means to a new beginning, Helena Wayne as "Helena Bertinelli" reinvented herself as the Huntress and committed herself to destroying organised crime –– a modus operandi that fit her own mission of dismantling human trafficking rings around the world.
The other reason Helena Wayne most likely chose "Helena Bertinelli" as her new identity? She personally identified with Bertinelli's own tragedy. As a teenaged girl who experienced the violent deaths of both of her parents on Earth-2, she could identify with Bertinelli's own trauma of losing her family in a violent manner. She could also identify with Bertinelli's need to reinvent herself in a way that caused her to "forget" who she really was and where she really came from.