Friday, 9 April 2010

DC Comics Super Hero Collection - Huntress

Although she'd been around (in one universe or another) for years by then, I first became aware of Huntress in the pages of the five volume "maxi-series" No Man's Land. In that series she spent much of her time dressed as a would-be Batwoman, patrolling the streets of a Gotham reeling from the after-effects of a massive earthquake.

Now, I've always been quick to criticise the number of allies who seem to dog Batman's footsteps but it was immediately apparent to me that Huntress was different. She belonged.

Like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, her childhood had been torn from her by the murder of her parents, the mafia Bertinelli family. Just as importantly, however, like the best of the Bat-villains, Huntress added something to our understanding of Batman himself. Without the moral compass of an honest father, she had become the kind of vigilante that Batman could so easily have become - vengeful and lethal, with no qualms about killing or maiming her opponents.

Her own psychological issues were also painfully clear to see. As much as her pride prevented her from admitting it, she desperately wanted to be accepted by Batman. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think she was looking for him to be the father figure she'd needed all those years before. Yes, she opposed him, scorned his methods, insisted on doing things her own way and remained fiercely independent. And yet, for all that, she wanted his approval; to have him recognise that she was one of the good guys. When DC announced that they were introducing a new Batwoman to Gotham, I shook my head in disbelief. Not only did this scream of a failure to understand that the last thing the Bat-universe needed was yet another costumed crime-fighter on the streets, it demonstrated just how little the writers and editors understood the property they already had.

By the end of No Man's Land, Huntress had abandoned the bat-suit and reverted to her own purple and black costume. Not the one the figurine created by Eaglemoss for the DC Comics Super Hero Collection is wearing (see image above). That came later, introduced during Jeph Loeb's incredibly mediocre and hugely over-hyped Hush. This was an unnecessary redesign prompted, I can only assume, by the belief that the sight of a bare midriff and thighs might titillate the more immature fanboys enough for them to overlook the shortcomings of the story.

Since then, Huntress has moved on to other things, most notably as one of the key members of Oracle's Birds of Prey team. I can't help thinking, however, that DC missed a trick with this character. Unlike the newly created pretender Batwoman, Huntress lurks in the darker recesses of Batman's psyche just as much as she haunts the back-alleys of Gotham City.

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