"Gotham Needs butt kickers, not shining knights"
First Appearance: Huntress #1 (April, 1989)
Who is she?: Helena Bertinelli’s father, Franco, was the Don Corleone of the five families of Gotham, capo di tutti capi. He ran that shit. His family had come to Gotham from Sicily a few generations ago (think Pacino in Godfather II). Helena’s mother, Maria, along with her brother Tomaso had also immigrated to Gotham from Sicily. Early stories say Helena was unaware of her father’s organized crime and promote him to be a good father. Later stories say he was abusive and Helena wasn’t even his natural daughter (Huntress: Year One, Cry for Blood, but I’ll get to that). After extensive research, I prefer to go with the former. (If you want reasoning, that’s a whole different post and you can message me about the mob and family)
So anyway when Helena was 8, a gun man comes in and kills her whole family, her mother, her brother, her father, and leaves her alive. And it just doesn’t stop there. The Bertinellis expanded from the Syndicate in Chicago to the other families in New York, and all of them are killed. I doubt even Valerie Bertinelli exists in this universe, because they’re all dead (okay bad joke and I doubt any of you know who that even is) So Helena’s Uncle Tommy sends her off to Sicily to be raised by their cousins, the Asaros. Little does Helena know they’re also assassins for the Sicilian mob. Her 16 year old cousin Sal takes Helena under his wing and protects her from the wrath of his father. Helena is initially scared but when she gets tired of the nightmares, Sal shows her the family barn packed with artillery and thus begins her training.
Eventually the Asaros are captured and sent to jail leaving Helena alone to finish her education at boarding school, after graduating college, she returns to Gotham and becomes a teacher by day and the Huntress by night. Initially she is after blood, she wants vengeance for what happened to her family and she terrorizes the mafia (and she does get that vengeance, think Zoe Saldana in Colombiana). This of course catches the attention of Batman and he is critical of Helena’s methods because it’s “his city” and he doesn’t like killing and Helena ain’t got time to put psycho murderers in jail just so they can break out again and again. She also teams up with Tim Drake, who is initially weary of her but unlike Batman, befriends her. There are team ups with Catwoman and Nightwing and even Spoiler.
During No Man’s Land, Helena dons the costume the Bat to inspire fear into the criminals, which totally works and she’s really good at it. Of course Batman who is an ass to her 95% of the time, makes her give it back. As Huntress, she takes on a ton, I mean A TON OF JOKER GOONS. LIKE A HUNDRED, SINGLE HANDEDLY. AND BEATS THE SHIT OUT OF THEM. But Joker, the ass that he is, cheats and shoots her several times. Nightwing and Batman come to her aid, and finally gives her the credit she deserves.
Helena becomes a member of the JLA briefly (they kicked her out because she was going to kill Prometheus who totally deserved it AND IF THEY HAD LET HER THEN MAYBE CRY FOR JUSTICE WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED) and then becomes a member of the Birds of Prey where she would eventually become field mission leader. During Battle of the Cowl, it’s finally clear that she’s become a trusted member of the bat family as well.
OH AND LET ME BACK IT UP AND TELL YOU HOW SHE SAVED BRUCE’S ASS DURING HUSH AND KICKED THE SHIT OUT OF A BUNCH OF THUGS SINGLE HANDEDLY AGAIN.
What can she do? Helena is super skilled in using a crossbow and a bo staff. Her aim is impeccable. She’s highly skilled in hand to hand combat and she’s a pretty damn good driver. And she’s witty and smart and perfect.