The Huntress: Darknight Daughter
Writer: Paul Levitz
Inker: Joe Staton
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
For those of you who read Crisis on Infinite Earths, you know that the Huntress of today’s DC Comics is very different from the Huntress of yesteryear’s comics. The Huntress currently featured in Birds of Prey comics is Helena Bertinelli, daughter of a prominent mob boss whose assassination prompted Helena’s donning of the Huntress costume to exact justice. However, before the Crisis on Infinite Earths ever came to be, Huntress was Helena Kyle, daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle (aka: Batman and Catwoman) and resident of a different Earth – Earth 2 to be exact. When the Crisis occurred, multiple Earths were wiped out, effectively wiping out the life of the Earth 2 Huntress as if her life never existed.
The Huntress: Darknight Daughter is a trade paperback compilation of comic books in which the Helena Kyle Huntress appeared. It features DC Superstars #17, Batman Family #18-20 and Wonder Woman # 271-287, 289, 290, 294 and 295 and spans the years from 1977 until 1982. The trade paperback begins with the telling of how Earth 2’s Huntress came to be after the tragic death of her mother at her father’s hand. From that issue, we go on to follow Helena Kyle’s career as a lawyer in a public interest research firm by day, and a costume wearing seeker of justice by night. We watch as Helena uses the variety of skills taught her by both her mother and father to fight the bad guys in Gotham day after day. And Earth 2’s Huntress had her hands full with Earth 2’s baddies – Joker, Lionmane, The Thinker, Solomon Grundy and more. Luckily, she didn’t always have to rely on her detective wits and amazing agility. Sometimes she relied on a little help from her friends – Power Girl and Robin.
The stories contained in The Huntress: Darknight Daughter were all written by Paul Levitz, current President and Publisher of DC Comics and the trade paperback opens with an introduction by Levitz himself, explaining the presence of this second Huntress and apologizing for his early work. I don’t think the man had anything to apologize about. Considering that these comics were written in the late 70s and early 80s, I thought that they were fairly well done and reflected the events of the times. Helena’s job as a lawyer/partner in a public interest research firm reflected the sorts of jobs that women of that era were into – working for a better world through activist causes. The artwork by Joe Staton wasn’t exactly state of the art, but the comic book industry has come a long way through artist innovations and Staton can hardly be blamed for the fact that today’s artists have more tools at hand than he did when he created his works. And might I say that those works were nothing to smirk at either. For a comic book written in the 70s, this series showed quite a bit more skin than I expected and I would like to add that Staton is very talented when it comes to drawing the human form, both male and female.
Many of the issues appearing in The Huntress: Darknight Daughter are short, but one must consider that they were basically chapters in larger volumes. Batman Family comics contained at least three stories in one issue, so the tales from those comics were usually short. The stories from Wonder Woman were written as fillers – filling up pages not used up by the main Wonder Woman story itself. And the tale that appeared in Superstars # 17 was from an issue in which Green Arrow and Legion’s origin were discussed as well.
I, for one, loved the opportunity to learn about the Helena Kyle Huntress as I am certain that this is the Huntress that the Birds of Prey television show’s character was based upon. Being a New Yorker, I did notice something about the locale of the comic book that interested me quite a bit. In one particular story arc, Huntress is searching for someone who has been setting fires throughout a particular neighborhood. In that series, we discover that the once beautiful city of Gotham is burning, buildings being destroyed by their owners for insurance money. This brought back memories of a time when the Bronx was burning for the same reasons. Helena Kyle lived in the Innwood District of Gotham on Earth 2 and incidentally, there’s an Inwood Section in Manhattan. The prison where Helena takes on Lionmane is located on Gull’s Island and it just so happens that there is a Little Gull’s Island located out in the Long Island Sound. The little touches like that brought familiarity to the story and made it more enjoyable.
Containing over 200 pages and 15 issues worth of stories, The Huntress: Darknight Daughter is definitely worth the $19 price tag. This trade paperback is a must have for fans of the Birds of Prey television show and a terrific edition for fans of DC Comics of yesteryear.
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
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Birds of Prey Television Series