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DC Women Kicking Ass

Thoughts, pictures, reviews and other stuff about the women in comics who kick ass. This is a feminist site. Deal with it.
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Dec 20 '10

The most memorable moments in DC history for women: Nominee #6

This week I’m posting two moments a day and today’s first one is from the Bronze age of comics. I’m actually quite pleased this one made it on the list. My guest poster today is Corrina Lawson. Corrina is a published author, a writer at the delightful Geek Dad and Geek Mom sites from Wired and is also a long time comic reader and commentator at sites such as Sequential Tart. She also co-moderates Gail Simone’s board Jinxworld.com. I have no idea how she had time to do this. It must be the love for the character.

Corrina is writing about the debut of Helena Wayne in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes #17. Her thoughts are below.

I first knew I was going to like Helena Wayne when I heard her code name.

Huntress.

Not Batwoman or Batgirl or some adjunct of her father’s identity. No, Helena Wayne had a name that reflected her mother’s identity of Catwoman. Even the purple in the Huntress costume pointed to her mother’s Silver Age purple costume.

Helena Wayne was the daughter of Bruce Wayne but it mattered just as much to her that she was the daughter of Selina Kyle. It was her mother’s death that she avenged in her first adventure and her mother’s legacy that sent her into a crime fighting career.

This was a new thing to me.

One, there weren’t that many female heroes at the time and those that existed at DC were mostly adjuncts of its most popular heroes. Later, Black Canary carried on her mother’s legacy but that was after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Helena Wayne got there first.

Her origin story was also deeply touching, as it was a love story and a tragedy all in one. Joe Staton’s artwork was perfect and the sight of Bruce Wayne (even the Earth 2 Wayne) near collapse at his wife’s funeral was heartbreaking. When a mysterious figure showed up in the mist to confront Selina’s blackmailer, I thought it might be Batman after all.

But it turned out to be Huntress, who avenged her mother with her first case and then decided to follow her crime-fighting career while living a double-life as a lawyer. Her crossbow distinguished her from her father’s weapons.

I liked Helena.

These days, we like to call female characters “kick-ass” and talk about their toughness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But while Huntress could definitely kick-ass, she was also warm and engaging. She was open and honest and she had friends that she didn’t hesitate to call on if she had a problem. Her friendship with Power Girl was fun and and didn’t revolve around talking about the men that they might be dating.

And Huntress was smart. Like her father, she was a detective and she investigated crime and did her homework. She also had a cleverly designed condo in which the furniture doubled as work-out equipment.

I didn’t realize how much I adored Huntress until she was killed, along with the Earth-2 Robin, in Crisis on Infinite Earths. She’s appeared recently In Superman/Batman and Justice Society of America but I’ve looked at those appearances and that Huntress seems much angrier and more intense that the Helena Wayne who starred in the stories I loved when I was younger.

I hold out hope that with the new multiverse, the Helena Wayne that I remember fondly finally returns. I’ve come to adore Helena Bertinelli, who now carries the name, but it’s just not the same.

For more info, there’s a great Huntress website here: http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/egypt/235/.

DCWKA note:

There is also a trade with a selection of stories, including Huntress’ origin story in “The Huntress: Darknight Daughter” by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton.

 
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