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Thoughts on the New 52 Debut of Helena Bertinelli

In an interview with Vaneta Rogers, Tim Seeley and Tom King reveal that Dick Grayson’s partner in his new career as a spy in Grayson is none other than the New 52 version of Helena Bertinelli, the Post-Crisis/pre-New 52 Huntress. The last time we heard that name in the New 52, the current Huntress (the pre-Crisis/new-52 Huntress), Helena Wayne, was using that identity and noting that the original Helena Bertinelli was dead. Obviously, we now know that to not be the case.

King and Seeley describe her:

King: This is the New 52 appearance of the new Helena Bertinelli.

Seeley: Yeah, it’s not Helena Wayne, the Huntress. It’s Helena Bertinelli.

King: She’s an amazing spy. She’s definitely better than Dick; he has to learn from her.

I’m a bit torn on this. On the one hand, I enjoyed Helena Bertinelli as a character and I was disappointed when it appeared as though she was dead in the new 52. However, at the same time, it wasn’t so much “Helena Bertinelli” that I liked so much as Helana Bertinelli as the Huntress. Helena Bertinelli as just a super spy might very well be a cool character, but one thing I have had a slight problem with the New 52 so far is the habit of using old names for new characters that have little to nothing to do with the original characters. For instance, Richard Dragon in Green Arrow.

It seems counter-intuitive to try to introduce new characters to make things fresh but also to use old names just, for what, an odd piece of nostalgia? “Remember Richard Dragon? He was cool. Now I’ll be more interested in this new Richard Dragon who has little to nothing in common with the old Richard Dragon!”

Let’s hope that the new Helena Bertinelli is basically the old Helena Bertinelli just without being the Huntress!

Remember when Huntress and Nightwing hooked up? I thought Devin Grayson did a great job with that mini-series. I was looking forward to her taking on Nightwing’s solo series after Chuck Dixon left. Man, how wrong was I?

17 Comments

Travis Pelkie

May 15, 2014 at 2:50 am

Aw, man, they’re making it harder for me to resist that new Grayson series. Spyral, now Helena Bertinelli, who apparently has some background in the new 52 since the other Helena was using the identity for a time.

Although why didn’t Spyral pick up on that?

So does Spyral consist entirely of ladies who had their eyes on the Batmen? I’m presuming that Kathy Kane/Batwoman is still leader (as in, the original one as featured in Batman Inc). Will Julie Madison and Silver St Cloud be part of it too?

Although why is it called Grayson? Seems to give a lot away.

“I’m Grayson.”

“Aren’t you the guy revealed as Nightwing?”

“Ummmm”

“You totally are. C’mon, come at me with those esquivelswizzle sticks. C’mon! I’m not telling you nuttin’ about our super secret operations, obvious spy guy!”

“Oh, I’m the worst super spy ever!”

I agree, I like the old characters and it is annoying to see old names attached to completely different characters for nostalgia. But, we haven’t seen the character yet, so let’s see how this goes.

I enjoyed Helena Bertinelli and her backstory: daughter of a murdered crime family turned school teacher turned vigilante. And I loved the dynamic of her relationship with Batman: seeking his approval but still doing her own thing even when he wouldn’t give it to her. I don’t think I am interested in Helena as a spy. It’s Helena as *Huntress* that appeals to me.

I have this same problem with a lot of New 52 versions of characters. If it’s so different, why bother keeping the name? But strangely enough, a lot of fans don’t care about this. A major revelation to me about comic fans is they seem to care far more about how the character physically looks than the character’s substance. You can bring back characters with very different personalities, family ties, ages, etc., and as long as the hair color, weight, and skin tone is right, they don’t care. But change that look…

For example, the new biracial Wally West, while basically an example of this category of being mostly the same in name only, is still FAR more similar to the old Wally West than this Helena Bertinelli seems to be to the old Helena Bertinelli. Yet from early fan response online, the new skin tone makes NuWally far more of a travesty and different from his pre-Nu52 counterpart than Helena’s totally new backstory is for her.

Long story short, so long as she’s not being brought back racebent, I don’t think fans will care. If you were to bring her back with exact same post-Crisis backstory, down to the smallest details, in every aspect yet dare to change her skin tone, THEN fans would cry bloody murder

Changing a beloved character is a sin.

But “kowtowing” to political correcteness and engaging in a “socio-political” agenda is a greater sin. You know, kids growing up with the wrong idea that non-white people can be heroes is a dangerous socio-political concept.

(Yeah, yeah, the problem isn’t with non-white heroes, but why must they change a formerly white hero blah blah blah why can’t they create a new non-white hero blah blah blah. The complaint is made pointless when people accept other radical changes as long as the skin color is kept the same)

@ T.

Long story short, so long as she’s not being brought back racebent, I don’t think fans will care. If you were to bring her back with exact same post-Crisis backstory, down to the smallest details, in every aspect yet dare to change her skin tone, THEN fans would cry bloody murder.

Sad, but true.

The DCU was primarily created when America had a totally different very make-up than it does today and was not even representative by those standards. If you are going to re-boot the DCU for the 21st Century, then a LOT of characters need to be racebent. To me, the best way to achieve that would have been to pick the characters who are either well-conceived, or extremely iconic, as they are and toss the rest of the I.P. back into the pot for the full Julie Schwartz treatment.

I liked the old Earth-Two Huntress, Power Girl and Infinity, Inc. There is a good chance that I am the biggest fan of those characters out there. Still, they have essentially been gone for almost thirty years. I got over it, like, a while ago. Despite some occasional good work on them, they have never supplanted (or even really challenged) Supergirl, Batgirl and the Teen Titans in those young heroes slots. The same is true for the Young Justice group.

Throw ‘em back in the pot.

It reminds me of the old Tangent Comics experiment that DC ran. There were some great ideas in those comics. Nightwing was an secret agency for magical characters, Power Girl was an experiment by the Chinese government and etc. It would’ve been interesting to see characters like that bounce off Superman, Batman and the JLA.

This is why I don’t read DC comics very often. I can’t get invested in a character who is going to be rebooted and reinvented avery couple of years. I really enjoyed Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey; now I’m supposed to care about Barbara Gordon, Helena Bertinelli, and the others when they’re totally changed characters and all of those stories are wiped away? Meh.

Nu-D, I’ve read DC for years but yes–I figure they’ll eventually reboot again so why get hooked on New52? So I don’t.

@Travis- I’m glad I’m not the only one to wonder about that. Your identity has been outed by the most evil group ever on every screen know to mankind….and you think being a secret agent is a good career choice?
Reminds me of the Airplane movie where one of the pilots is Kareen Abdul-Jabbar going by the name Murdock.
Joey: Wait a minute. I know you. You’re Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Murdock: I’m sorry son, but you must have me confused with someone else. My name is Roger Murdock. I’m the co-pilot.
Joey: You are Kareem! I’ve seen you play. My dad’s got season tickets.
Murdock: I think you should go back to your seat now Joey. Right Clarence?
Clarence: Nahhhhhh, he’s not bothering anyone, let him stay here.
Murdock: [shows his nametag] But just remember, my name is Roger Murdock. I’m an airline pilot.
Joey: I think you’re the greatest, but my dad says you don’t work hard enough on defense. And he says that lots of times, you don’t even run down court. And that you don’t really try… except during the playoffs.
Murdock: The hell I don’t! Listen, kid. I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

I’m still mystified about the way Jeff Lemire is using Richard Dragon. I mean, the book is great, but… Constantine Drakon was right there as a Green Arrow rogue already. Dragon is unrecognizable as the same character pre-New 52, but I suppose that’s the point?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to see the real Helena Bertinelli show up. I haven’t really enjoyed the Wayne version so far (or at least the books she’s featured at), so change is certainly welcome.

Still waiting for confirmation regarding Kathy Webb’s involvement in Grayson, though.

What always made Helena Bertinelli interesting was her back story and how she dealt with other super heroes. She didn’t come from a loving home. She came from a crime family and saw her family murdered in front of her. She wants to do good, but doesn’t really know what is “good” considering her up bringing. The Greg Rucka written series “Cry For Blood.” showed an amazing Helena. Batman sees the world in black and white and always knows what to do. Helena sees the world in grays, has a lot of pent up anger, and doesn’t always know the right choice to make. THAT is what always made Helena interesting to me.

I’m not opposed to change, but I just wish it could be…well, more interesting.
Helena was a complex character and fertile ground for writers to bounce her off others. Now she is being brought in as Nightwing’s partner / possible love interest. YAWN!
The last change to a major character was probably Gail SImone’s Wonder Woman The Circle where she introduced the idea that the Utopia of Themiscyra may not be true. How would a society of immortal infertile women react to the birth of a daughter for the queen? Why couldn’t the other amazon’s have children? What does a society trapped on one location do with the insane or those who go against the norm? Now that was an interesting wrinkle!

The Huntress was one post-crisis take that never worked for me. The pre-Crisis version being Batman and Catwoman’s daughter was such a great concept and Helena II always felt uninteresting by contrast.
I think there’s something to be said for having more characters start over completely. If they’d done that with Crisis and rebooted everyone, we might have been spared all the partial added reboots of the next decade.

Bill Williamson

May 15, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I’m of the opposite opinion. Helena Wayne was such a boring character to me. Having her be the daughter of Batman and Catwoman just felt like those 50s era Batman stories where Robin would become Batman II and Bruce’s son would become Robin II. It was unoriginal.

Whereas Helena Bertinelli had such life. She was the daughter of a crime family, she was a hot-blooded Italian-American vigilante. She was so much different from the generic WASP background that Bruce Wayne and his cohorts all seem to come from. There was such fertile ground there. Writers could really get into that subculture, in ways they couldn’t do with Batman. Not only that, but she basically challenged Batman’s authority while at the same time trying to earn a little bit of his respect.

I think it’s representative of the New 52 as a whole that they would want to throw that away for some generic super spy concept. There are plenty of characters, even plenty of Batman characters, who would work so much better cast in the same mould. Sasha Bordeaux for example.

Man, the New 52 must have made the lot of you quite cynical.

Look, what we know about Helena Bertinelli so far in the reboot is that her father is still a crime boss (he appeared in a Justice League issue during Forever Evil), she still looks like how she used to given Helena Wayne was passing herself off as her, and she is going to be a senior agent to a character who used to be in her peer group before the reboot. So she isn’t going to be some fucking 12 year old like they are making Wally West. That is a situation where it is basically a brand new character they just gave the Wally West name to. At least here her background and appearance are still the same. That is more than you can say for a lot of New 52 characters.

I agree with Catsmeow –

I enjoyed Helena Bertinelli and her backstory: daughter of a murdered crime family turned school teacher turned vigilante. And I loved the dynamic of her relationship with Batman: seeking his approval but still doing her own thing even when he wouldn’t give it to her.

I also loved her redemption story in No Mans Land after everyone turned against her (even Tim, one of her biggest supporters for a time). DC really should of given her and ongoing after her amazing mini seres by Rucka.

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