What does DC’s Batman/Catwoman decision mean for Huntress?
Warning: the following contains spoilers for Batman #32.
Back in June, Bruce Wayne proposed to Catwoman/Selina Kyle in #24 of Tom King’s Batman. The series then switched to a flashback story, “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” (guess who that was about), before resuming with the present this week. In any case, today’s issue of Batman, #32, reveals Selina replies “yes.”
Diehard DC fans will know this isn’t the first time Batman and Catwoman got engaged. As fans of The Flash may remember, there exists an Earth Two, where Jay Garrick, not Barry Allen, is the fastest man alive.
In that reality, Bruce and Selina got married and had a daughter, Helena, who became the superhero Huntress, who debuted in 1977's DC Super Stars #17. If the scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it was the conceit used by the short-lived 1999 TV show Birds of Prey.
By 1985, DC decided to make its comics more accessible to new readers, publishing Crisis on Infinite Earths, which rebooted continuity with only one Earth, one Batman, one Catwoman, and one Huntress who was not their daughter. She was now Helena Bertinelli, a woman born into a mob family, who sought revenge on those behind her parents’ death. Her willingness to kill put her at odds with Batman, but she became steadfast allies with Barbara Gordon / Oracle and Dinah Lance / Black Canary.
But that wasn’t the last twist in Helena’s story. In 2006, after the sequel storyline Infinite Crisis, DC’s comics picked up “One Year Later” to reveal Selina’s best friend Holly Robinson had become Catwoman, because Selina had given birth to a girl named (surprise) Helena.
The father was eventually revealed to be Slam Bradley Jr., the son of the detective who aided Selina during Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s critically acclaimed tenure on Catwoman. Eventually, she gave the girl up for adoption as other criminals kept targeting them.
In 2011, DC hit the reset button again with Flashpoint and the New 52 range of comics emerging out of it. Selina never had a baby, and Huntress was back to being the child of Batman and Catwoman on Earth Two. Naturally, a lot of fans who grew up reading Helena Bertinelli and seeing her on the Justice League cartoon were perturbed, so another version of her was introduced as an ally of Dick Grayson on Earth One. Come 2016’s “Rebirth” event, Bertinelli would once again become Huntress and part of the Birds of Prey.
Catwoman’s decision to accept Batman’s proposal raises the question: could there be a Helena Wayne of Earth One? From 1965 to 1980, Batman Jr. and Superman Jr., characters from Earth-154, starred as the Super-Sons in the World’s Finest comic. Today, Batman and Talia al Ghul’s son Damian, and Superman and Lois Lane’s son Jon star together in Super Sons. So there’s no doubt what was once considered a novelty glimpsed in another reality could be considered normal.
Consider, after another big storyline, DC decides to flashforward a decade into the future, and young Helena Wayne, now taking the mantle of Huntress from Bertinelli, is a member of the Teen Titans. Or, because DC don’t want their marquee characters getting too old (what are Superman and Lois anyway? 38?), maybe it’s revealed Selina and Bruce had a child earlier on that she kept a secret and gave up for adoption? There’s nothing quite like superhero family drama, and like time, reality is such a malleable thing in comics, so anything is possible.
Here’s to Huntress, whatever her surname is, or however different her relationship with Batman may be.