Huntress: Year One

Writer: Ivory Madison

Penciller: Cliff Richards

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            There’s something about the character of Huntress that’s intriguing.  Maybe it’s because Batman was so totally against her working in “his” city.  Maybe it’s because he disapproved of her crimefighting technique.  Maybe it’s because she began as a vigilante who wasn’t afraid to kill, the ultimate sin in the Batman circles.  Either way, I have enjoyed reading comics featuring Huntress, whether she was part of a team as in Birds of Prey or working on her own in her self-titled comic book series.  Helena Bertinelli is a character you simply want to know more about.  That’s why when Huntress: Year One graphic novel hit the stores, I just had to check it out.

            Many superheroes have received the Year One treatment - Batman, Nightwing, Green Arrow and Batgirl to name a few - as the powers that be at DC Comics attempt to give the readers a better idea about what led their favorite characters to become superheroes.  Huntress: Year One is a compilation of the six-part series that gives us insight into how Helena Bertinelli became the Huntress.  Of course, this was all touched upon in Huntress: Cry for Blood, but Huntress: Year One goes into this story in much more detail.

            Poor young Helena, thinking that life was bad enough with her mafia crime boss father beating up on her mother all the time, soon discovers that things could be a whole lot worse as she stands witness while her mother, father and brother are all murdered before her eyes by a hired hitman.  In fact, members of the Bertinelli family all over the world are being taken out one by one.  In an effort to protect her, the Asaro family, members of the same mafia, takes Helena in.  Her uncle Sal, an assassin, becomes something of a big brother, teaching her all she needs to know to survive.  Using these skills, Helena begins to seek out answers about her parents death…answers that she may never truly want to know…answers that invite the ultimate in vengeance.

            When I first read this graphic novel, I wasn’t sure if I liked it.  I kept thinking that I had read this before and that Helena’s backstory had changed somehow.  Then, I realized why I had thought the story had changed.  While Huntress: Year One strives to give us an in-depth look at how Helena became Huntress, it actually does leave out some of the storyline that was in Cry for Blood – the whole reason behind the death of Helena’s family.  Helena: Year One tells us how the family was killed, who the killer was and who hired him, but it doesn’t tell us the reason behind the killing (something we learn about in Cry for Blood).  Other than that, the story was well-written and engaging. 

            I have heard others complain about the artwork in the series, but I had no complaints whatsoever.  Chief of the complaints was that the coloring was too bland with an excessive amount of purple being used.  Well, purple and black are Huntress’ colors and the graphic novel is supposed to be dark.  After all, the poor girl has lived with the fact that she stood by helpless while her whole family was murdered in front of her.  That pretty much spells darkness and what better effect than dark colors to represent the dark feelings coursing through Helena after the incident. 

            I enjoyed the artwork and the writing despite the fact that they left out the important revelations from Cry for Blood.  Other than that, the graphic novel was great.  If you are interested in learning about the origins of Huntress, then Huntress: Year One is definitely the graphic novel for you.


For more about the Huntress, check out the following links:

Birds of Prey
Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student
Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn
Birds of Prey: The Battle Within
Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch
Birds of Prey: Secret Files & Origins 2003

Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits
Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter
Birds of Prey Television Series
Crisis on Infinite Earths
The Huntress: Darknight Daughter

HUntress: Cry for Blood

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