Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
I actually tried and then gave up on Paul Levitz and Marcus To’s Huntress before starting this tour of superhero comics featuring women, but one of the things I wanted to do with the experiment is to get a large, healthy sample of each series before passing judgment. I’d only read a couple of issues of Huntress before giving up on it, so I felt like I needed to go back for at least a couple of more. I ended up reading the entire six-issue mini-series, but that was just because it finished before I got around to catching up and I figured, “Why not?”
My problem with the series mostly has to do with lack of dramatic excitement. Marcus To draws an attractive Huntress and does a nice job of depicting the luxurious lifestyle of rich people living around the Mediterranean, but the plot is extremely basic: dictators who are also human traffickers are evil; Huntress wants to stop them because she’s a good guy. Though the story takes place mostly in Italy, there’s a Gotham connection to explain Huntress’ being on the case, but if this is your first exposure to her (which it is, because this is an all-new Huntress created especially for the New 52), just having the crimes relate to Gotham isn’t enough to know why that’s important. Does this Huntress have a Batman-like need to protect that city? Is she idly curious and chasing a rabbit down its hole (before uncovering something darker)? This comic isn’t telling.
When I wrote about Birds of Prey, I caught a little flack in the comments for complaining that there are no personal stakes for the heroes of that series. Most of the commenters understood though that I wasn’t suggesting that every villain has to have a personal connection with the hero. That gets unbelievable really fast and I’m not suggesting it for Huntress. But I do want to feel like there’s a reason for a story to be told other than just, “So there’s this bad guy and he needs to be stopped.” Why does this particular hero need to be the one to do it?
It doesn’t have to be because the villain killed her favorite uncle (or is her favorite uncle, or insert your own crazy plot-twist here), but if it’s a story worth telling, the hero should be important enough that you can’t just switch her out with anyone else and have essentially the same story. Especially in a mini-series that should be even more focused and point-having than an ongoing. It’s difficult to see what the point of Huntress is other than to introduce her to New 52 readers. That could have been done as easily in a one-shot or a guest-appearance in someone else’s book as in a six-issue mini-series.
Huntress isn’t a bad mini-series. As an action story, it’s perfectly adequate. The villains are forgettable (more so than in Birds of Prey, which at least gives its bad guy a unique way of committing crimes), but the art is nice and the main character is snarky and fun and I love how she’s kind of a foodie. I also like how Levitz slowly reveals that this isn’t the Huntress we’re used to pre-Flashpoint. Hints about her liking cats; things like that. It’s nothing that you could pick up on without knowing the rest of the story from Levitz’ interviews, but once you know what’s going on, it’s fun. The question is: Is it fun enough to sustain a series?
That’s a moot point of course, because Huntress isn’t an ongoing. If it were, the first six issues would be a weak start with just enough positive about it to suggest that it could eventually turn into something neat. That’s not enough to keep my interest though. Six issues are plenty of time to deliver the cool; not just suggest it. Based on these six, I wouldn’t read a hypothetical seventh.
DC’s smart though. I don’t have complete confidence in Levitz’ ability to write a Huntress series I want to read, but by adding Power Girl to the mix, making it a fish-out-of-Earth-2 series (thus fixing the lack of drama that bothered me here), and calling it World’s Finest, my curiosity is piqued enough that I’ll want to give that a shot.