Much of this centered on the mind-wipe Starfire was given in Red Hood and the Outlaws, and the dismembered body of Catwoman in her eponymous book. (There was some hullabaloo about Voodoo too).
This response to the women of the DCnU (in contrast to the previous model, brilliantly captured by Adam Hughes) was alternately labeled “character protection” or “fanboyish” / “fangirl-ish” (the latter term missing the point on completely different level) by some.
Of course, the defenders of DC did have something of a point. You could lament that Starfire has become vapid (and practically nekkid), or you can drop that book in favor of Supergirl, in all her fully-clothed (including the signature DCnU collar!) teen-angsty glory. You could argue that Catwoman #1 proved Laura Mulvey right about phallocentrism and the male gaze, or you could praise the much awaited return of the gender-bending (and genre-bending) Batwoman (she’s a gothy-lesbian for those not keeping score).
And let’s not overlook Brian Azzarello’s revitalization of Wonder Woman (but please do overlook his ridiculous “I’m much more concerned with what goes on behind her eyes than what goes on, what goes on her thighs.” comment).
Regardless of the response, DC continues to roll out new titles in this, the second month of the new 52. In the last two weeks, DC released The Huntress, a six-issue series written by Paul Levitz with art by Marcus To and John Dell; Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, a five-issue series written by Gregg Hurwitz with art by Szymon Kudranski; and The Shade, a twelve-issue series written by James Robinson with rotating art duties by Cully Hamner, Darwyn Cooke, Javier Pulido, Jill Thompson, Frazer Irving and Gene Ha.
Each of these series offers an alternative to the standard superhero fare. It was these books that led me to reconsider my previous rants about DC’s relaunch. I’ll be reviewing each of these series in the coming days.
First up, The Huntress.
Helena arrives on a private jet to Naples and is already contemplating what the body count is going to be on this trip. She drops a hint that she might be on the Batman, Inc. payroll, which would make her either the first or second female operative Bruce Wayne has enlisted (he’s made an offer to Batwoman, but she doesn’t seem excited to take him up on it).
She has a clear agenda: discover and prevent whatever is being smuggled into Gotham. The plan takes an unexpected detour when she finds out that it’s not just guns or drugs but also young women. It’s not quite clear whether they are minors, but they clearly have been abused and underfed. And thus continues Huntress’ mission against organized crime.
In the solicits DC teases that Huntress will have “the largest price on her head in DC Universe history” by the end of the series. It’s also hinted that there will be some connection between the Huntress mini and the new Justice Society series set in Earth-2. Could DC possibly be returning to pre-crisis continuity? It’s possible, particularly since they never give us Helena’s last name.
Prior to Crisis on Infinite earths, Huntress was the alter-ego of Helena Wayne, the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Post-Crisis, Huntress was reintroduced as Helena Bertinelli. Her details of her origin were rewritten three times, but they all involved her having some connection to Gotham City Mafia (usually as a daughter of one of the dons) and setting out on a quest of vengeance against all organized crime after some violent act (either being raped as a child or watching her entire family get killed).
If the current Helena/Huntress is funded by Batman, Inc, this would suggest a pretty significant change with her relationship with Bruce. Previously, Bruce kept his associations with her to a minimum, as he found her too unpredictable (read: uncontrollable).This was in large part due to her willingness to break the sacred “heroes shall not kill” commandment. Nevertheless, Oracle (a paralyzed Barbara Gordon) calls upon Huntress to be a member of her team of femme-fatales, Birds of Prey.
There are still many questions to be answered about Helena’s status and identity in the DCnU. I’m particularly interested to find out if she rejoins Birds of Prey, which now has Black Canary at the helm.
Regardless of genealogy and team affiliation, Huntress remains true to form as a powerful vigilante with no superpowers other than her ability to kick ass and take names. In so doing, the series provides readers with a self-motivated, self-made, independent, female superhero.
One could argue that this book takes a traditional, second-wave approach to feminism (insert woman where man used to be). Even if it’s true, at least they gave Huntress the rest of her costume back!