BIRDS OF PREY: HUNTRESS (BATMAN/HUNTRESS: CRY FOR BLOOD)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Rick Burchett & Terry Beatty
Color Artist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: Clem Robins
Series Cover Artist: Rick Burchett
Collection Cover Artist: Tula Lotay
Rating: 8/10 Crossbow Bolts
With the Birds of Prey (and the extremely long subtitle for Harley Quinn) movie just [insert date of reading this] away, The Comic Lounge is here to cover these awesome women to celebrate. It also helps me to get to know more about some of these characters I don’t know too much about. This particular Bird of Prey I will be looking at is one of the three I know the least about, Helena Bertinelli, aka the Huntress. Most of my knowledge of Huntress comes from first seeing her in the old Justice League Unlimited show. From there, her brief appearance on the CW’s Arrow, the Rebirth Birds of Prey and some through Morrison’s run of JLA. Even still I wasn’t fully aware of her comic origin. Not sure where to begin, I decided to go for it and pick up the promotional trade of Huntress DC put out for the Birds of Prey movie. This collects Greh Rucka’s complete run of Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood. Are there spoilers in here? That’s a good question.
The story opens with a body pulled from Gotham river, a crossbow bolt in their chest. The Dark Knight approaches his prime suspect in their home, Helana Bertinelli. It’s a setup. Someone is going after members of the various mob families and killing them, making it look like Huntress is the one doing it. Being framed for murder is never fun but Huntress isn’t looking to clear her name out of guilt for the poor schmucks. Helena comes from a mob family herself, one of the oldest and formerly the biggest ones in charge. That all changed when her family was murdered in front of her. Similar to Bruce, she trained to become something more, but unlike him, she was not afraid to cross the line when she killed the man who pulled the trigger (we don’t see that moment in this story but it’s brought up she never found out who put the hit out). Not being afraid to kill doesn’t land her on the best of side of Batman but she does have some people that are looking out for her like the Boy Wonders and the Question. Who? Exactly.
For a six-issue read, Rucka packs a lot in almost effortlessly as things go south in Gotham for Huntress, we escape up north of the border for a good old training montage, followed by an in-depth origin story for Helena. Throughout the beginning of the story, Helena gives the background of her family and the relation to the mob world she is associated with as well as what set her down the path of Huntress at the death of her family. It’s a long bus ride back to Gotham that through Helena, Rucka dives fully into her history. We see Helana going through trauma and grief, unable to sleep for years. We watch as she turns that into anger and begins to train to take her revenge. Then we see her inspired as she returns to Gotham to attend a party, and watches in awe as a man dressed as a bat strikes fear into the evil around her as he attacked them. All of this sets Helena’s return to Gotham up for some big twists and whether or not a cry for blood can go unanswered.
This read was a bullseye for me on getting a good Huntress story. Rucka combines both a complete origin for Helena within an action-packed crime murder mystery. His dialogue for Helena in the opening pages alone as she analyzes everyone’s perception of her is amazing as well as her awareness of her own morality. Looking at the art in this series, Burchett gave me series vibes of the old Batman animated series albeit slightly more refined in the roughness and details on characters. Tatjana Wood, however, definitely brought that old TV show vibe I remember with their colors reminding so much of it. I honestly feel like DC did a good job with this promotional trade and have confidence in the other two characters’ books as well. I can now walk into the theater feeling a little better on my Huntress knowledge and you can too! Or, if you are just blown away by Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance as Helena, then put this read in your crosshairs and become a fan.