There have been two main versions of the Huntress character: Helena Wayne and Helena Bertinelli.
Helena Wayne version
The original Huntress was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, Helena Wayne. Part of the Earth-Two continuity, Helena donned the cape to avenge the death of her mother. She first appeared in "DC Super-Stars" #17 (December, 1977), created by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton. She got several solo stories in The '70s and The '80s and a back up feature in Wonder Woman Volume 1, as well as having regular appearances alongside the Justice Society of America and Infinity, Inc..
In her civilian identity, Helena was a prominent lawyer and partner at the law firm Cranston, Grayson and Wayne, with her surrogate brother Robin/Richard "Dick" Grayson as a co-partner. Occasionally, the two partnered up, both in and outside the courts, though Helena's more frequent costumed partner Charles Bullock, Blackwing, was an intern at the law firm. Her other frequent partner was her best friend Power Girl. Opponents included villains from both Earth-One and Earth-Two.
The character participated with others in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. She was killed in issue #12. Like most Earth-Two characters, her existence was then erased from history, though Power Girl has had flashbacks of Helena in a few of the mid-2000s storylines.
Following DC's New 52 reboot, Helena Wayne was returned to the Huntress identity. Co-creator Paul Levitz wrote the return/retcon, beginning with a six issue miniseries titled Huntress. Helena Wayne's adventures continued in the similarly Levitz-penned Worlds' Finest. A conversation in Worlds' Finest #1 revealed the fate of Helena Bertinelli, establishing that Bertinelli was killed years earlier, with her identity stolen by Wayne. Though Wayne had previously served as her father's sidekick using the identity of Robin, she took on the Huntress identity when her father, Wonder Woman, and Superman were killed, and she and Power Girl were stranded on Earth-One after an explosion.
A variant of this version of the character, played by Ashley Scott, appeared as the lead in the short-lived TV series Birds of Prey (loosely based on the comic book series of same name, which actually featured Bertinelli). In the series, Helena was given the surname Kyle after her mother.
Helena Bertinelli version
Like other old DC characters, Huntress was eventually reworked Post-Crisis, wearing a version of her original costume, but with an entirely new backstory. The new version first appeared in "Huntress" vol. 1 #1 (April, 1989), created by Joey Cavalieri and Joe Staten.
Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress: what Bruce Wayne might have been if Bruce's father had been a Mafia capo in Gotham. Her father was one of the most powerful mob bosses in "The Five Families" until the other capos decided the Bertinellis were in their way and massacred every single member of the family - except for Helena, age eight, who watched as her family was murdered in front of her.
Kept safe in Sicily, she trained for years, then returned to Gotham and began pursuing the systematic destruction of the mob. Note that she was originally active in New York, and was only later retconned to have always been active in Gotham. During this early period, she was telepathically manipulated by Maxwell Lord into joining the Justice League against her will. When his mental manipulation wore off, she quit the League.
She was, again, subsequently retconned into being active in Gotham, and though she often pursued the same cases as Batman, Gotham's self-appointed protector held her at a significant distance due to several factors, the most apparent being Huntress's willingness to use lethal force. However, other stories have hinted that Batman feared for her safety, comparing her to Barbara Gordon. Batman sponsored her membership in the Justice League for a time, but her continued willingness to kill led to her expulsion. She continued to try to strengthen her ties with the Bat-family, even having a fling with Nightwing while working on a case, but to no avail.
During the late 1990s-early 2000s, things took a turn for the worse. During the year-long isolation of Gotham known as the No Man's Land, Huntress initially took up the cowl of Batgirl, unfilled since Barbara Gordon stepped down several years prior. She did so to inspire hope in the inhabitants of the city being attacked on all sides by crime lords and abandoned by the rest of America - and seemingly by Batman himself, who had been gone for many months. When Batman returned, however, he set her an impossible task in order to keep the Batgirl mantle. When she failed, he manipulated her into joining one of the most violent groups in the city, to act as a check on the unhinged leader. The crisis came to a head when she held off an assault by the Joker, felling 17 goons before the Clown Prince shot her three times in the stomach. Though Batman and Nightwing saved her life, her outlook had hardened as a result of Batman's willingness to use her as cannon fodder. In spite the attempted help of Vic Sage (The Question) and Richard Dragon in the Greg Rucka miniseries Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood, she continued in a downward spiral of isolation and violence. By 2003 (around the time of Hush) she seemed to have hit rock bottom: kicked out of the JLA, pursued by Checkmate, no friends or support group, and wrapped up in the machinations of the villain Hush, Huntress seemingly had no way out.
All that changed when Black Canary was captured by the villain Savant, and her desperate partner in the Birds of Prey, Barbara Gordon (Oracle) begged Huntress for assistance at the beginning of the first Gail Simone run on the Birds of Prey title. From that point on, Huntress had a firm place in Gotham's premier female vigilante team, and a growing sense of belonging. Though she temporarily left the team when Oracle attempted to manipulate her into rejecting lethal methods, she returned to ask for help in concluding her massive plan to infiltrate the Gotham mob, a plan which initially causes Batman to flip out, then look extremely foolish (and surprisingly grateful) when she turns over a complete map of the Mafia to him.
The Birds underwent several blows, starting with the departure of Black Canary, leaving Huntress as senior field agent alongside Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk). Eventually, Oracle disbanded the Birds, leading to a return to Huntress's more unstable days when she was willing to use lethal force. During this period, she formed ties to Renee Montoya, the second Question (another Greg Rucka miniseries, Question: Pipeline, which also contains a Shout-Out or two to Cry for Blood). When Oracle is forced to reunite the Birds during the events of Brightest Day, Huntress rejoins, and nearly loses her life to save Black Canary's in a fight against Lady Shiva. In doing so, she finally returns to the realization that she's no longer alone. Through the next several missions, Huntress impresses Oracle so much that she is promoted to field leader, a position once held by Black Canary.
Huntress's preferred methods usually include her unerring accuracy with crossbows and other bolt-firing weapons, though she also possesses considerable hand-to-hand combat skills, only enhanced by her height (5'11") and conditioning. Her outfit has gone through a large number of changes, generally retaining a black-and-purple (with occasional white) scheme, often incorporating a cross motif to reflect her Catholicism, and some kind of mask which has mimicked Batman's outline with pointed ears many times. In 2003, artist Jim Lee redesigned her costume for the miniseries Hush, and incorporated a large belly-window into her costume. When asked by Black Canary about the change, Huntress replied "700 sit ups a day."
In her civilian life, Helena has always wanted to be a teacher. When she initially started in Gotham, she managed to maintain her dual lifestyle, but after No Man's Land and her training with Richard Dragon, she was fired. She retained access to her family's three-billion dollar account for a while, but when Checkmate recruited her, they froze her accounts (which was reversed by Spy Smasher in return for successfully rescuing Ice, shortly after Black Canary left the team). Oracle both got her a stable job as a teacher and gave her considerable pay as a field agent when Helena joined the Birds of Prey, which greatly contributed to her gradual process of accepting love and trust. This process has also influenced her relationship with her faith - in Cry for Blood and the early days of Simone's Birds of Prey run, Helena seemed to regard herself as damned, and was antagonistic to God and the church as a result. As Dinah and eventually Barbara gained her trust and love, she also opened back up to her childhood faith. By the time of her duel with Lady Shiva, though still suffering from feelings of abandonment and self-hatred, she prays, knowing that God is "always there," and thanks Him for giving her life meaning.
In 2014, Helena Bertinelli returned, though not as the Huntress, in Grayson. She later took up the Huntress mantle in the DC Rebirth relaunch of Birds of Prey.
Creators who have significantly contributed to Helena Bertinelli's development:
Titles which star or significantly feature Helena Bertinelli:
- Huntress ongoing series by Joey Cavalieri
- Huntress miniseries by Chuck Dixon
- Huntress Year One by Ivory Madison
- Nightwing/Huntress by Devin Grayson
- Batman: No Man's Land by multiple writers, including Chuck Dixon and Greg Rucka
- Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood by Greg Rucka
- Hush by Jeph Loeb
- Birds of Prey by Gail Simone
- Robin III: Cry of the Huntress by Chuck Dixon
- Huntress/Spoiler: Blunt Trauma by Chuck Dixon
- The Question: Pipeline by Greg Rucka
- Injustice: Gods Among Us by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato
- Grayson by Tim Seely and Mikel Janin
- Batgirl and the Birds of Prey by Shawna Benson, Julie Benson and Claire Roe
Appearances in other media:
- Justice League Unlimited
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Birds of Prey (tv series)
- Birds of Prey (movie debut), played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Not to be confused with the YA book.
- Action Girl: She's skilled in martial arts and weaponry.
- Badass Normal: Average human with no superpowers or tech to imitate them hanging out and fighting against and alongside Kryptonians and other heavy weight superpowered individuals.
- Building Swing: Helena gets around Gotham by swinging from building to building using her grapple while brooding and planning.
- The Bus Came Back: Even though a couple of universe wide reboots had erased this Helena and her universe in favor of first "Earth-2" and then The New 52's "Earth 2" the original Helena Wayne Huntress alongside her pseudo brother Dick M. Grayson reappear to fight the Superman of Superman: Red Son in Convergence: Detective Comics decades after their last appearances.
- The Cowl: Helena Wayne takes after her parents: she wears dark clothes and a pointed domino mask, operates in rough neighborhoods hunting human traffickers and abusers, uses crossbows, and is more aggressive than other members of the Earth Two Bat-family.
- Creepy Good: Most of Gotham's regular criminals quickly find that she's just as unsettling as her father, with her threats and violent intimidation and interrogation tactics. For bonus points her costume gives her the same silhouette as the one Bruce trained them to fear during his time as Batman.
- Depending on the Artist: While her costume is usually depicted as a v-neck leotard with thigh-high boots occasionally the lighter portions of what is usually a leotard are depicted to continue down her leg as pants, sometimes as a coloring oddity in a work which otherwise depicts it as a leotard and sometimes at an artist's discretion.
- Hello, Attorney!: Helena Wayne is a very attractive attorney, and recieves quite a lot of male attention in the often cleavage revealing skirt suits she wears as part of her job.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L alias Power Girl (Earth-Two Supergirl) are best friends and often work alongside each other. They're also members of the Justice Society of America together.
- Legacy Character: To both her parents; Batman and Catwoman.
- Leotard of Power: Her Huntress costume is a v-neck leotard paired with gloves, a cape and thigh-high boots.
- Like Brother and Sister: Her and Earth-Two Robin, due to their upbringing as semi siblings (Dick was Bruce's ward, but wasn't officially adopted by him).
- Lovely Angels: Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-L alias Power Girl are contrasted pretty action girls who both wear skimpy outfits and often team up.
- Redeeming Replacement: To Catwoman (who had herself turned good and married Bruce in this continuity).
- Roof Hopping: When the buildings are close enough together that her grapple line is unnecessary Helena will just hop across the rooftops.
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: During one her storylines in Wonder Woman vol 1, Helena is escaping Arkham Asylum and succumbs to the effects of being shot with a very potent hallucinogenic by Professor Fether. After her Journey to the Center of the Mind, Helena wakes up in the flat of her fellow inmate she escaped the Asylum with, Gary Minelli. She also finds herself naked in his bed, meaning he undressed and unmasked her while she was out, when she confronts him wearing only a Modesty Bedsheet, she's more worried about her Secret Identity being compromised than her modesty, despite his obvious flirting. She'll also casually open her apartment door to talk to someone in a negligee.
- Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Helena is a attorney and partner at Cranston, Grayson and Wayne.
- Stripperiffic: Helena's Huntress costume is essentially a leotard with a plunging v-neck despite the fact that she wears it to fight armed and superpowered foes and she has no super-durability or healing powers whatsoever.
- Superheroes Wear Capes: Despite the fact that her cape has gotten her in trouble Helena's never once made an attempt to alter her costume's heavy cape; she's a superhero and both of her parents wore capes so she does too.
- Triple Shifter: Helena's job as an attorney and nightly superhero activities don't mix well. Her lack of sleep is sometimes devastating for her day job, with her turning up hours late or being incredibly short tempered. She does usually try to only patrol as Huntress for the first part of the night in order to get some sleep, but this doesn't always work out.
- Underestimating Badassery: When Helena first started out plenty of Gotham's criminals would be terrified of her, until she stepped into enough light or got close enough that they realized she wasn't Batman. They soon learned that laughing at and brushing off the "pathetic girl" was a mistake.
- Weapon of Choice: A crossbow, despite the fact that she holds to a strict no killing rule.
- Action Girl: She's skilled in martial arts and weaponry.
- Amazonian Beauty: Perhaps best demonstrated in the first issue of her 2011 mini, when she kicks ass while wearing only lingerie and is drawn with very prominent leg muscles◊.
- Badass Normal: So far, has not received any supernatural or even technological upgrades. Except briefly turned against her will into a mutated Fury of Apokolips in Earth 2: World's End.
- Badass Longcoat: In Earth 2: Society, her Batman costume incorporates one.
- Bait-and-Switch: On a meta-level, while her 2011 mini has been well-received, many fans weren't happy at The Reveal that the Helena we've been following was actually Wayne instead of Bertinelli. Levitz has said in at least one interview that he's sorry about the Bait and Switch.
- Carnival of Killers: In World's Finest #8, a mob boss puts an open contract on Huntress's life, causing a large number of assassins to start targeting Helena in an attempt to collect.
- Composite Character:
- As a young girl, the New 52 version of Helena was her world's Robin.
- The modern costume she wears is the same one worn by the Post-Crisis Helena Bertinelli Huntress. This was part of a Bait-and-Switch Red Herring trick DC pulled, where fans were initially led to believe the New 52 Huntress was Bertinelli instead of Wayne.
- Dead Person Impersonation: In her debut mini-series, she poses as Helena Bertinelli, and ultimately reveals that she stole the name from a young woman who'd been killed years ago. The real Helena Bertinelli was later revealed to be alive and well.
- Go Back to the Source: The Meta source; writer Paul Levitz co-created Helena Wayne and scripted most of her solo stories, until her retconning out of existence by Crisis on Infinite Earths. When brought back nearly three decades later with New 52, Huntress' 2011 mini and the revived World's Finest stories with Helena were again written by Levitz.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: In post-Flashpoint Dc universe, Kara met Helena when she saved her life. Since then they became "Best Friends. Forever". When they got stranded in the main Earth, they lived together. Helena called Kara her "oldest and dearest friend".
- Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In Huntress #5 (the 2012 mini-series), Helena disguises herself as a cleaning woman to sneak into the Lion's fortress.
- Lovely Angels: Helena Wayne and Kara Zor-El alias Power Girl have this dynamic in the New 52 series Worlds' Finest. Which is a throwback to their original team-ups on pre-Crisis Earth-Two.
- The Reveal: The "twist" of the New 52 Huntress mini-series was that the title character was not Helena Bertinelli, and that she was actually from Earth 2.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Earth-2 Dick Grayson, on the post-Infinite Crisis, pre-Flashpoint version Earth.
- Action Girl: She's skilled in martial arts and weaponry.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: In Justice League Unlimited. While she does start off with her more anti-heroic traits (ie. willingness to use lethal force), she pretty much moves past this after her first appearance. After that she's pretty much purely heroic (if snarky).
- Adaptational Villainy: In Arrow, Helena Bertinelli is a recurring villain. Of course, this required only small changes to her basic character.
- Anti-Hero: Batman thinks she's too dark, and her methods too extreme. Batman thinks that. Let that sink in for a moment.note
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Helena as Batgirl during Batman: No Man's Land.
- Archnemesis Dad: In Cry for Blood, it is revealed that the man who arranged with Stephen Mandragora the murder of the Bertinellis, driving Helena Bertinelli to become the Huntress, was Santo Cassamento, her biological father.
- Badass Biker: Her preferred method of transportation. Even tells Misfit that damaging her ride comes with severe consequences. In her civilian identity she seems to prefer bombing about town in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
- Badass Normal: So far, has not received any supernatural or even technological upgrades.
- Badass Teacher: she's a crime-fighter by night and a high-school teacher by day. Just try to threaten "her kids".
- Bare Your Midriff: The Jim Lee 2003 costume redesign showed off her toned stomach (particularly her nicely toned abs). Gail Simone disliked the costume, but instead of merely retconning it away, came up with the in-universe "700 sit-ups a day" reasoning, which is both hilarious and rational.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted on at least two occasions:
- She has a black, swollen eye and a bruised jaw for almost an entire issue of Cry for Blood. This came from Nightwing punching her for accidentally shooting Batman and Question kicking her in the face in the previous issue.
- Her lips and one of her eyes are swollen after her duel with Lady Shiva.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension:
- It's specifically because they had "No hassle attached" sex in the past that this has developed between herself and Dick Grayson. To the point where they frequently alternate between arguing and making out.
- A little bit with Question during "Cry for Blood"; a little bit belligerent, that is. The sexual tension is blatant, at least until they relieve it.
- Berserk Button:
- Do not threaten Helena Bertinelli's students.
- A more minor one, but she also dislikes being lumped in with the mob, and particularly hates the phrase "mafia princess".
- Black Sheep: After the cancellation of her Cavalieri-penned ongoing, she was moved to Gotham and incorporated into the Bat-family, but she was never accepted by Batman because of her lethal methods.
- Bound and Gagged: In one of her first important missions as senior field agent with Lady Blackhawk, one of Zinda's old enemies brainwashes her, leading her to tie up Huntress. Being a good member of the Birds of Prey, though, Huntress breaks the brainwashing through The Power of Friendship. An earlier issue of The Batman Chronicles had her getting tied up and gagged after being ambushed by a group of street children.
- Also, in the Gail Simone penned episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold "The Masks of Matches Malone," the team is tied up and hung over sharks - but Huntress's mad crossbow skills help save the day.
- And of course she does this to Jimmy Olsen in Justice League Unlimited, leaving him taped up so she can steal his signal watch.
- Brainy Brunette: Actually fits this trope, though more often has the image of a bruiser. Black Canary points out that she and Oracle have a lot in common, both being extremely intelligent.
- Break Her Heart to Save Her: Catman, who knows that unless she believes him to be unredeemable, Huntress will become involved in his rather problematic life.
- Broken Bird: The murder of her family when she was a young child led her to become ruthless and distrustful.
- Byronic Hero: Brilliant, capable of pulling off daring and convoluted schemes, but also prone to brutal, unthinking violence; loves opera and fine cuisine, but will torture suspects for information; a devout Catholic and an unrepentant multiple murderess; can kill a teenager and crack jokes about it, but G-d help you if you threaten a child under her protection; driven to become a vigilante by the murder of her family when she was a small child, but later killed her own father.
- Combat Pragmatist: Much more so than most of her colleagues - and mostly by necessity, since good as she is, she often has to face threat levels far above street level.
- Create Your Own Hero: Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, was the supposed daughter of mob boss Franco Bertinelli, the actual daughter of mob boss Santo Cassamento, and the niece of mob boss Tomasso Panessa, making her pretty much the ultimate Mafia Princess. Cassamento and mob boss Stephen Mandragora conspired to kill all the Bertinellis, leaving only Helena alive. She then went to live with her cousins, who were mob assassins; they taught her to fight and to kill. She eventually became a vigilante, murdered Mandragora and Cassamento, and became the scourge of the mob in general. Of course, this was really more a case of the mob creating its own antihero.
- Cultured Badass: Loves opera and fine cuisine.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: She beats up and KOs Batgirl fairly easily in Year One.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: She was a much darker reimagining of the pre-Crisis Helena-Wayne Huntress.
- Dating Catwoman: Catman, actually. Starting with a surprise meeting/fight/teamup in Russia, she's flirted/warned/fought with him fairly consistently. Unfortunately, since she's still clearly a hero and he's a wannabe-heroic-bad-guy, there are problems.
- In No Man's Land, she takes three bullets to the stomach from the Joker and keeps going. After being rejected by Batman.
- When she fights Lady Shiva, even though she knows she will die painfully, even after she gets the tar beat out of her, she manages to do something almost no one has done: knock Shiva down.
- Despite her fighting abilities being compromised by fear toxin, Huntress still puts up so much of a struggle against Catwoman that she has to be sedated. And even then she wakes up after only a few minutes when she should've been out for hours.
- Evil Counterpart: Well, eviler. Tabby Brennan was set up to be this, in that both were the daughters of powerful crime bosses, and both schemed to murder their fathers under the noses of several superheroes. The difference is that Santo Cassamento hated Huntress, and was trying to force her into the mob as his personal enforcer and assassin, while Tabby's father loved her and was trying to quit his life of crime for her sake; Huntress killed Cassamento to get out of the mob (and for revenge), while Tabby killed her father to take over his gang. Lampshaded when Huntress thinks of Tabby as "Just like me." Of course, then Tabby got killed off in a really stupid manner, but the less said of that, the better.
- Fired Teacher: Helena B. found it very hard to keep a stable job as a teacher, as she would regularly show up to work with black eyes or broken bones gained the night before while on patrol.
- Friendless Background: She had relatives who genuinely loved and cared for her (although they were all evil), and she even had lovers, but until she met Black Canary, she never had a single friend. Helps to explain her devotion to the Canary.
- Good Is Not Nice: She can be remarkably bitter and rude to even her closest friends and allies but when it counts, her heart is always in the right place, Depending on the Writer.
- Groin Attack: Part of her arsenal as a Combat Pragmatist; Helena Bertinelli is particularly fond of them, using them against such skilled fighters as Archer Braun and Prometheus to get the upper hand.
- A Handful for an Eye: When dueling Shiva to the death to prevent Black Canary from doing the same, Huntress blinds Shiva with her own blood in a surprise (to Shiva) employment of gutter tactics.
- Harmful to Minors: Her backstory (she watched her parents get shot by her her father's associates). Both versions.
- In her original backstory, she was raped when she was 6 by a rival crime lord to torture her father.
- In Cry for Blood, it's retconned that her family died when she was 8.
- He Who Fights Monsters]: On and off during the 90s and afterwards and called out on it by other heroes.
- Hero Antagonist: Batman in Cry for Blood. He's just trying to stop Huntress from murdering people, and is willing to take seriously the possibility that she's not responsible for the initial murders. In the end, he gives her the benefit of the doubt, letting her resolve the problem while trusting her to do it without further bloodshed.
- Heroic Bastard: It is revealed in Cry for Blood that her real father was Santo Cassamento.
- Honor Before Reason: Though occasionally she's expressed disdain for this trope, when it's really important, she's there. She has faced down the Joker, Lady Shiva, and countless other world-class threats simply because she cares more than she lets on.
- Hypocritical Humor: A very dark example in Huntress: Year One: Barbara Gordon and two colleagues from the justice department are attending a conference on organized crime in Italy when the news comes out of the murder of notorious crime boss, Capo di Tutti Capi Stephen Mandragora, and they toast his death at a local bar. A woman at the bar berates them for this, saying "Never toast someone's death," and that "it's naive to think death solves anything." All of which sounds quite reasonable, except that the woman at the bar, Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, is the one who killed him!
- I Work Alone: In Cry for Blood, she explains that she feels honor-bound to work alone because of the code of omerta. It's an interesting look into the duality of the character, because the same mafia she is determined to destroy is the source of her peculiar code of honor.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him:
- In Birds of Prey, Vixen begs her not to kill evil cult-leader Sovereign Brusaw, which she doesn't. Later, when Vixen thanks her for not crossing the line, Huntress tells that the only reason she didn't kill him is that her crossbow jammed.
- In Cry for Blood, at the end Question begs her not to kill Santo Cassamento. She kills him anyway.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: In the pages of Grant Morrison's JLA, she once shot a bullet with a crossbow bolt in mid-flight.
- Improvised Weapon: In close quarters combat she often uses objects like frying pans, car windows, chairs or even television antennas - whatever happens to be close at hand - to inflict damage.
- In-Series Nickname: With Renee Montoya, the second Question - they call each other "Q" and "H," possibly as a reference to their DCAU counterparts.
- Indy Ploy: Fully expecting to die during her duel with Shiva, Helena gets an idea that might just give her an edge: allow Shiva to bloody her to the point that she has enough to spit into Shiva's eyes.
- The Infiltration: After leaving the Birds because of Oracle's manipulation, Helena uses her family heritage of Mafia Princess to rise to the rank of capo. She does so in order to give Batman the most detailed picture of the Gotham Mob's organization he's ever had.
- Super Weight: Iron Weight. So much so, Lady Shiva, one of the DCU's deadliest assassins, nicknames her "Iron Owl."
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Tim Drake, with him often being one of the few members of the Batman Family (if not the only one) who she is consistently on good terms with.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Huntress does this a lot. At one point, she interrupts an interrogation Nightwing was conducting of the Tattooed Man and just starts beating the information out of him. Nightwing is shocked by how far she's willing to go. Considering who trained Nightwing, that's saying something.
- Kinda Busy Here: Often takes calls (or even makes them) while delivering some justice to villains, such as the beginning of Simone's run on Birds of Prey, when Oracle calls her in the middle of a job to save Black Canary's life.
- Knife Nut: Has been known to stab people.
- The Lancer: Her usual role in any book but her own. However, Simone attempted to change that in her last issue of Birds of Prey by promoting her to field leader.
- Last of Her Kind: Helena Bertinelli is the last of the Bertinellis, who were once the dominant of Gotham's Five Families. The Bertinelli name is still highly respected in Gotham's underworld, however, and Huntress uses that to her advantage. Subverted in that she is revealed in Cry for Blood not to be a Bertinelli after all, but a Cassamento.
- Let's You and Him Fight: During Batman: Hush, Huntress gets dosed with fear toxin and hallucinates that Catwoman is her former, more vengeful self. Terrified, Huntress fights her, thinking it will help her to move on from her past.
- The Mafia: Born to it, rejected it, continually drawn to it, eventually infiltrated it and became a capo. Her mission in life: take it down.
- Lovely Angels: Helena Bertinelli teams with Black Canary and Batgirl in the Birds of Prey.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Finds out in Cry for Blood that the man who ordered the hit on her family, Santo Cassamento, is actually her biological father.Huntress: Sit down, Don Cassamento. You raise an alarm, I'll kill you. Look at the photograph, please. Take a good look...and then tell me what you and Maria Bertinelli were doing in that hotel room together.
Santo Cassamento: F.B.I. took this?
Huntress: Answer the question.
Santo Cassamento: Must've been the feds. Franco would've killed me if he'd known about it.
Huntress: I said, answer—
Santo Cassamento: Isn't it obvious? Your mother and I were conceiving you, Helena Rosa. Now put that crossbow down before you accidentally murder your father.
- Mafia Princess: What she was initially, and what Batman thought she was trying to do when she infiltrated it.
- Mama Bear: Threatening her students brings this out. With a free order of dangling-from-rooftops!
- Manipulative Bastard: Normally, her methodology consists of straightforward lethal violence, but in Cry for Blood, she was able to manipulate pretty much everyone, including Oracle, Batman, Robin, and the especially Question, so that she could kill, or rather arrange the murder of, mob-boss Santo Cassamento (her biological father) without facing any legal repercussions.
- The Millstone: At her absolute worst, she is little more than a massive liability for Batman, whose reason for keeping her around more often than not seems to boil down to wanting to keep her on a leash instead of being able to cause larger and uglier messes.
- Ms. Fanservice: She is a very beautiful woman who tends to wear form-fitting and sexy costumes that highlight her voluptuous yet athletically toned body, toned stomach, buxom breasts, long toned legs, and nice rear end.
- Molotov Truck: In the 2012 mini-series, the Huntress sends a speedboat packed with explosives into a harbor as a distraction.
- More Expendable Than You: What Huntress usually feels about herself compared to other heroes, especially Dinah. Explicitly dealt with when she takes on Shiva for Canary.
- Most Common Super Power: Depending on the Artist, she has a very large bust.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- Her duel with Lady Shiva is this for a majority of the fight, with Helena being very much on the receiving end.
- Shortly after Yasemin Soze threatens to kill her students, Helena beats the shit out of her, ending with a Neck Lift over a ten-story drop.
- Not So Different: Exactly what Huntress thinks about Tabby Brennan. See the Evil Counterpart entry, supra.Huntress: Can't help it... that young woman grew up the daughter of a KILLER. Just like I did. Just like me.
- Official Couple: In Justice League Unlimited only (the comic book Helena has a much more troubled romantic history) with the Question. Though she did have a fling with him during the Cry for Blood miniseries, which is referenced a few times afterwards, indicating it had some meaning to her.
- Patricide: In Cry for Blood, she arranged the murder of Santo Cassamento.
- Poisonous Friend: To Black Canary in Birds of Prey. She was extremely loyal to the Canary, to the point of being willing to fight Lady Shiva (a form of suicide) in Canary's place, and she eventually came to be friends with Oracle as well, but one or another of the Birds would periodically have to stop Huntress from murdering somebody or doing something else horrible. She would, however, generally let herself be stopped, presumably so that her friends would be willing to continue working with her.
- Raised Catholic: Since she was born a Mafia Princess, naturally. However, according to her Year One miniseries, she has some unorthodox theology, and she's gone back and forth on where she stands with God. During Rucka and Burchett's Cry for Blood miniseries, she feels she's damned regardless of what she does, which seems to carry over into the beginning of Simone's Birds of Prey run, saying that the church repels her. However, through that run, she comes to have a better view of herself and her faith, and even thinks about attending church again. In the 2010 relaunch, just before she believes she's about to die at Shiva's hands, she takes a moment to thank God for giving her life meaning, and thinks that "He's always listening."
- Rape as Backstory: In her original backstory, she was raped when she was 6 by a rival crime lord to torture her father.
- Really Gets Around: Her reputation. However, the actual number of her partners is surprisingly low (well, surprising if you don't remember the Raised Catholic part...)
- Retcon: When Helena Bertinelli's parents died, or rather more specifically, how old she was when they did: originally she was 19, but Cry for Blood changed it to when she was 8. Similarly, their names were changed from Guido and Carmela to Franco and Maria.
- Secret Identity: Helena Bertinelli, former Mafia Princess and current substitute teacher.
- Self-Made Orphan: Arranges the murder of Santo Cassamento, her biological father.
- She's Got Legs: They tend to be highlighted by her costumes.
- Shipper on Deck: Helena thought it was cute that Nightwing and Oracle were trying to keep a professional relationship, both claiming to have gotten over each other years ago. For added points, after she'd slept with Nightwing.
- Sociopathic Hero: At least a borderline sociopath. By DC superhero standards (also by normal-person standards), she has killed a lot of people, and never seems to feel bad about it.Oracle: She's not altogether sane, Tim.
- Statuesque Stunner: Official DC sources put her at 5'11". Though she's often drawn short... such as in the last few issues of Birds of Prey, in which she appears shorter than Black Canary, who is very short.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Pulls this off a lot, including on Batman, more than once. As he says the first time, "Now I know how Jim Gordon feels."
- Stripperiffic: The Jim Lee costume redesign of 2003. Gail Simone was at least able to poke fun at how ridiculous it was by revealing Huntress just really wants to show off her abs after all the sit-ups she does every day. His co-redesign for the New 52 with Cully Hamner, however, is a bit more conservative.
- Sudden Name Change:
- The Post-Crisis Huntress had a case of her middle name changing. In her first origin and early appearances, her full name was "Helena Janice Bertinelli". In her revised origin and later profiles, her name became "Helena Rosa Bertinelli".
- Huntress' parents were named Guido and Carmela in her original 1989 origin, but their names were later changed to Franco and Maria by the time of Greg Rucka's retelling in the Cry For Blood miniseries.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Though she currently has the Birds of Prey as allies along with a small number of friends here and there, she was and still is greatly disliked by much of the superhero community for her use of lethal force and brutal methods, with many thinking of her as a loose-cannon psycho Batman is trying to keep under a leash. This reputation has gotten her removed from the Justice League beforehand.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Consistently averts this; while she doesn't exactly go around offing people left and right, she also has absolutely no problem with using lethal force. Batman is not a fan and has never been afraid to voice his displeasure regarding her methods.
- Tranquil Fury: Helena Bertinelli is usually a hot-tempered, passionate person, but it's when she gets very calm that you should really be afraid. Whenever she gets ready to murder someone in cold blood, she's invariably totally calm. When she killed Stephen Mandragora in Year One, she was almost totally dispassionate about it. In Cry for Blood, when she gives Santo Cassamento the kiss of death, you can tell by her facial expression that she hates him, but she is totally in control. One of the clearest cases, though, was when she was about to drop Yasemin off a roof. When she was beating Yasemin with an aerial antenna, she was screaming, but when she was dangling her off the ledge, ready to drop her, she was completely calm.
- The Unfavorite: Often comes off this way not only in the Bat-family (with Batman) but in Birds of Prey (with Oracle).
- A lot of Oracle's animosity is rooted to Huntress' past relationship with Dick Grayson. And the fact that Huntress spent a good deal of the beginning of Batman: No Man's Land using the Batgirl identity.
- Unscrupulous Hero: She's morally good at heart, but she's also horribly brutal and incredibly vicious even on her good days.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Cry for Blood makes clear that she was an adorable, innocent little girl before her messed-up upbringing turned her into a borderline-sociopathic killer vigilante.
- Vigilante Man: Her character, in a nutshell. Her goal in life is to kill mafiusi in revenge for the killing of her parents and brother.
- Weapon of Choice: Her crossbow, of course.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: A big part of Helena Bertinelli's characterization involves her wanting Batman to accept her as a legitimate vigilante, on her terms, albeit very much Depending on the Writer. This is very pronounced in Grant Morrison's portrayal of the character during his run on JLA, and also show's up in Ivory Madison's Huntress: Year One. It was expressly rejected in Cry for Blood, and didn't really show up at all in Cavalieri's Huntress ongoing or in the way the character was portrayed in Justice League International. She's gotten over it for the most part, but a bit still lingers as seen in Hush.
- Wham Line: See the Luke, I am your father entry, supra.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Happens rather frequently as a result of Huntress's well known willingness to cross the line (both in beatings and in killing). She is also no stranger to inflicting this trope on others, most notably Batman and Oracle.
- Wicked Cultured: She loves opera and gourmet cuisine, and she kills people.
- Worthy Opponent: Shiva considers Helena this after their duel, because even though Helena got her ass thoroughly kicked, she refused to go down.
- Would Hurt a Child: Generally children are her soft spot, but once executed a teenager and cracked a joke about it. Especially cold since she did it right in front of Mr. Miracle, who had been trying desperately to save the kid.
- You Are Worth Hell: Inverted in Huntress: Year One, when Huntress (Bertinelli) kills Stephen Mandragora (her first murder), she declares that killing him is worth going to hell.
- The Ace: One of Spyral's top agents, and a senior partner to Dick.
- Ambiguously Brown: New-52 Helena Bertinelli is significantly darker-skinned than in the old DCU, probably to render her more visually distinct from Helena Wayne. They haven't yet revealed her nu52 origin, although her last name suggests that she is still Sicilian, who in real life do often have dark skin.
- Badass Teacher: She's the matron of St. Hadrian's Finishing School.
- Death by Origin Story: Subverted. It had been previously established via retcon that she was killed as a young woman and had her identity usurped by Helena Wayne, her pre-Crisis counterpart. However, it turns out she's alive and working for Spyral.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: At first, her relationship with Grayson is cold and somewhat confrontational. Later developments suggest that they're closer to being True Companions.
- Divergent Character Evolution: Tim Seely claimed the main reason she was given a Race Lift was to keep people from confusing her with Helena Wayne.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After Dick releases her from Doctor Daedalus's possession, he tells her to take it easy because she's weak at the moment. Helena threatens to knock him to the floor if he ever calls her that again.
- Good Is Not Nice / Good Is Not Soft: She's a hero, but is easily the most morally dubious member of the new Birds of Prey. She has no issue with mugging and tying up random civilians when she's in need of a disguise, and frequently has to be reminded to reign in her more violent methods.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: She shows concern for the life of a child, and is willing to lie to her boss to protect the child.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Somewhat, concerning her agency. She works for the Ambiguously Evil Spyral, but it's ultimately subverted as she's willing to go against orders to protect a child. She's also Properly Paranoid about her boss's shady intentions.
- Posthumous Character: Initially, it was said that Helena was long dead in the New 52 continuity, with her identity having been stolen by Helena Wayne. After a great deal of backlash, it was later revealed that she'd actually disappeared, and was merely presumed dead.
- Race Lift: Bertinelli, in the New 52, has considerably darker skin than in the old DCU. She's not explicitly described as being anything other than Sicilian however (who's skin tones can be pretty dark, often to the point of being mistaken for Hispanic or Biracial in real life), so its less a Race Lift and more a 'colour-lift'.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Batgirl and Black Canary. The fact that she's rather fond of killing people is the main source of tension.