Robot 6

Women of Action | Huntress

Huntress #1

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.

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Comments

14 Comments

Not that guy ... I swear!

March 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

I think the purpose of the series was to introduce this new version of Helena (and to lead into World’s Finest, of course.)

I think the generic plot is actually a good thing. It puts the focus squarely on getting to know Huntress and not the intricacies of the story. I thought it worked really well and it has me excited for WF.

Levitz did some great initial character work with this new Huntress. That the strength and purpose of this story imo. I don’t think it was ever suppose to be about the plot.

And I disagree completely that you needed to read interviews to pick up on all the characterization. I didn’t read any. (I avoid them because they can definitely color the way you experience a story. I bet you just think you needed the interview to tell you those things. I think you would have picked them up on your own.)

And I am sure if this had been an ongoing Huntress series it would have been at least somewhat different. So your hypothetical non purchase of a hypothetical 7th issue is pretty pointless.

That is a problem with a lot of comics reviews imo. Too many reviewers with extremely rigid ideas of what makes a good comic. Or a checklist of completely arbitrary criteria that need to be met. Much too many expectations and too much completely personal baggage brought to every review. With not enough open-minded attempts to review a book on its own merits.

In other words too much complaint about what the book isn’t and not enough appreciation for what it is.

OK sorry for the rant. I’ll shut up now.

I suspect I will track this down in collected form at some point. It got better reviews than I expected, and To’s art is great. And I am glad that Helena’s costume got away from the rather silly and vulnerable bare midriff look and back to something that can be made of Kevlar.

But I doubt that anything we’ll see with her now will be as good as Rucka and Burchett’s classic miniseries. Now THAT was a comic where the stakes were high.

A generic plot is a good thing?

If you’re serious about your tour, check out the Greg Rucka-penned Huntress mini from a few years ago, “Cry for Blood.” Excellent stuff.

i dropped this book after 2 issue i was bored and i really like helena

I read all 6 issues and liked it up to the very end, which I didn’t like.

I found it especially pointing and boring. Slightly-above-average art doesn’t excuse the talentless writing.

I saw “Paul Levitz” and said “Nope.”

I agree with the plotting and pacing issues. Especially since this is a first run for a “new” character. The opening for her probably should have been more personal, if for no other reason than just to make us care for her. Instead what we got is a disposable character in a disposable plot that exists only to intro World’s Finest.
“That’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

Still a little burned that this was originally meant to be Helena Bertinelli, until they decided to change her to Helena Wayne. Itally, the mobsters and dictators, the “Bertinelli” name on the passport…I’m sure this was originally about her, and when they decided to change her to Helena Wayne, they had to take out any indicators that this entire story was relevant to Bertinelli – thus rendering it generic. Just shows the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing with editorial.

” 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.”

I thought the answer was self-evident. Someone is smuggling guns into Gotham; she thinks that’s a bad thing, so she tracks down the source. I don’t know that her need it “Batman-like”, but it sounds like she wants to protect the city.

I really enjoyed Helena’s character in this story. I liked her better than I ever have previously. Also I found it interesting to read about her hunting down these guys. Honestly it’s refreshing to me to read a well written, beautifully illustrated crime story with interesting character moments when so many titles try to overawe the audience with the author’s cleverness.

My thought was that… there was a personal connection to the “villain” for Helena B. (Helena B. has always taken a direct interest in preventing harm to children, girls, trafficking…) but once the character switched over to Helena W., I kept thinking to myself, why is she all up on Italy, food in Italy vs food in Gotham, etc. I would expect a Gotham vs Italy flavor in a Helena B. comic… but if Helena W. is a”brand” “new” character, a writer should at least point out why she has an affinity for Italy, food, etc…

I really enjoyed this series. It was one of my favorite comic reading experiences in a long time, and it was exactly *because* there was no personal connection between Helena and the villains of the piece.

There was no lame melodrama, no long lost eeeeevil family member, or rotten former mentor, or unbelievable conspiracy that tied everything together. It was just a basic story about a hero recognizing a terrible crime being committed and doing everything in her power to stop it. It’s the kind of thing superheroes *used* to do before the trend to over-complicate every comic book storyline with retconned history and unlikely back-story (ie: Batman’s current owl problem).

It made Helena Wayne seem much more selfless and heroic in my eyes – as she was fighting the good fight to save women who were being sold into sexual slavery. If her impetus to do so had been some friend who had fallen prey to the slavers her motivation would have appeared more selfish than heroic.

Plus, she was so *bad-ass!* I loved that Helena was so very capable and even when she came up against an adversary who out-weighed her and could have crushed her physically she still managed to take him down. I’m so tired of seeing heroes who are beaten-down, with tattered, torn costumes and being tortured in chains. That kind of thing might be good for high-drama once in awhile but when it becomes the norm it’s hard to take these heroes seriously as ‘super’ heroes.

As a reintroduction to Helena Wayne this was the perfect series and I’m eagerly awaiting reading more stories featuring her written by Mr Levitz.

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