- Every hero has a story, not that I'm some kind of hero. But there comes a point when to survive, the hunted must become the Huntress.
- — Helena Bertinelli src
Maria Bertinelli, the wife of Franco Bertinelli of the Mafia family in Gotham City, was the subject of frequent beatings from her husband, though he was careful never to hit her in the face. Maria began an affair with a man named Santo Cassamento and eventually became pregnant by him. Knowing the unborn child wasn't his, Franco continued to beat his wife throughout her pregnancy. When Maria gave birth to this child of her illicit union, she chose the name Helena Rosa Bertinelli. During the first eight years of Helena's life, she lived in the household of a Mafioso without ever being aware of the criminal dealing which took place there.
When Helena was eight years old, a man barged in to the Bertinelli household during dinner and shot Franco, Maria and Pino Bertinelli, sparing Helena. The hit came from Stefano Mandragora who wished for no vendettas against him. Helena's biological father passed the order along with a modification that "the sister" be spared. Santo was referring to Maria, but the gunman confused Maria with Helena and so Helena was spared, though she was not supposed to be.
Helena was placed under the care of her Uncle Tomasso's nephew, Salvatore Asaro. She was taken back to the old country, Sicily, where she would be kept safe and where the family was still strong. When arriving, she was terrified. Helena remained there for a number of years. Watching her cousin and uncle train and practice with weapons and hand-to-hand combat. However, the nightmares stayed with her. One night, her cousin showed her that only she could stop the nightmare by putting an end to those who murdered her family: blood cries for blood. When taken into the barn, she asked her cousin to teach her how, picking up a crossbow on the wall. She trained until the age of fifteen when she was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland to protect her from the Italian authorities who were cracking down on the Mafia.
When reading and seeing what was happening, she realized that everything she had been told was a lie about the Mafia. She realized that the Mafia was a force of corruption and evil, and it had been headed by her own family in Gotham City. At age sixteen, she finally returned to Gotham City to spend Christmas with her uncle. However, she hated everyone there. During the party, Helena witnessed her family finally was frightened of something. Batman had crashed the party and fought with them. Inspired by the way Batman frightened and defeated the people she hated, Helena realized that she could fight them too by following his example.
Helena returned to Switzerland for school where she plotted her vengeance. She went to her old house in Sicily (which had since been abandoned as a result of her uncle and cousin being arrested), and took a crossbow and a number of items for her crusade. Enrolling at the university in Palermo, she learned all about the Mafia. She constructed her costume and a number of weapons. She thought herself as a nun, totally devoted to her quest. She returned to Gotham in pursuit of vengeance as the Huntress.
Shortly after beginning her days as a Gotham vigilante, she busted some of Riddler's former henchmen after they stole a large amount of money.
Huntress ended the lives of Mandragora and the assassin who murdered her family. Sometime later, Nightwing and she began a brief romantic relationship while working together on a murder case of a police officer with connections to the Mafia.
No Man's Land
During the No Man's Land declaration in Gotham City, she briefly donned the guise of Batgirl to better inspire fear into the criminals of Gotham City, though she would also work in the guise of the Huntress. She began the habit of marking territories in No Man's Land, all of which would be adopted by the criminals and GCPD. Though Batman knew the entire time that it was Huntress under the cape and cowl, he eventually ordered her to give it up. Batman would give Huntress' Batgirl outfit to Cassandra Cain. Helena continued to be Huntress in No Man's Land, allying herself with a renegade police officer to the point where she assisted in capturing Nightwing and Oracle (though in the end, she helped them escape). On Christmas Eve, the Joker attacked her. Joker shot the Huntress five times that night, but she survived the encounter and fully recovered. In doing so, Helena earned Batman's respect.
To curb Helena's violent attitude, Batman nominated her for a position in the Justice League. However, Batman revoked her membership when she was about to kill Prometheus. After a series of murders which seemingly pointed to her as the killer, Huntress became wanted by Batman and Nightwing. Fortunately for her, she tumbled into the bay where she was picked up and rescued by the Question. She was taken to Canada where she was trained by the Question's sensei for three months. The two then traveled back to Gotham where she shared the story of her becoming the Huntress. The time Question and Huntress spent together sparked a relationship. However, when Huntress discovered who had been framing her, she discovered more than she bargained for. She discovered her true father as being Santo Cassamento and he was responsible for the death of her family. As a result, Helena asked a favor of her Uncle Tomasso. Santo was lured to the docks and was killed by Tomasso's men. The Question did not approve of what Helena had asked, and inquired when the killing would stop. He left her as she threw her golden cross into the water, ending the relationship.
Batman eventually supplied Helena with a new uniform and bike. She would later return the favor by saving his life when he took a fall in Crime Alley by fighting off attackers and putting him into the Batmobile. Huntress remarked in hindsight that he'd never thanked her for her heroism. A short time later, the Scarecrow, working with the mysterious Hush, drugged her, and manipulated Helena into attacking Catwoman, who she perceived as her old self. With the aid of Batman, the Scarecrow's drugs wore off and Helena made a full recovery. The Huntress soon found herself allied with Oracle and Black Canary and continued to fight crime in both Gotham City and Metropolis as an official member of the Birds of Prey.
While with the Birds of Prey, Huntress once served with the Outsiders when Arsenal (Roy Harper) was shot five times in the chest and was put out of the line of duty for three months. However, she was at constant odds with Nightwing, despite their past relationship. Immediately after Arsenal was able to serve again, Huntress left the Outsiders.
Infiltrating the Mob
Fearing that Oracle was manipulating her just like Batman and feeling guilt over her past, Huntress abruptly left the group and returned to Gotham. Using Creote and Savant as backup, she gave an offer to the Mafia saying she wanted in and would eliminate the competition. Barely accepted, she set her plan by setting the mobs against each other. In truth she was gathering information on the mob for Batman to use. Batman confronted her but was pleasantly surprised when Huntress handed her "atlas" to him.
One year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Huntress became the Birds of Prey's field leader following Black Canary's departure from the group. Her replacement heroines include Big Barda and Manhunter. During this time, Huntress redesigned her costume to fully cover her body. She was among those who went with the team to its new base in Platinum Flats, California.
After the team was disbanded, Huntress returned to Gotham and aided the rest of the Batman Family in containing the outbreak of violence in Gotham City. Huntress was put in temporary charge of the network while Nightwing searched for Tim Drake. After Dick became Batman she continued to aid him against Black Mask.
After the apparent death of Bruce Wayne, Helena joined the Network, an alliance composed of most members of the Batman Family, the Birds of Prey, and a handful of their other allies, such as Knight & Squire. As part of the group, she helped Knight and Nightwing against the street gangs of the city. Then, she teamed up with Black Canary to aid Nightwing against I-Am-Batman. She worked with Batgirl and Oracle to break up a lethal gambling game being run by Hugo Strange. Later, she was left in charge of the Network's ground forces by Nightwing when he went to confront I-Am-Batman.
After Dick Grayson became Batman, Huntress continued in her vigilante activities. One day, she ran into a crazed Man-Bat, and pursued him in an attempt to stop him from harming any civilians. She had resolved to kill him before his actions caused greater havoc, but discovered that Man-Bat was hunting a killer, and was not just going on a rampage. She eventually wound up teaming with him and Batman to take down this killer, who had the ability to turn invisible. The timely actions of a shotgun toting priest allowed them to capture the killer.
Oracle gathered the Birds of Prey back together in Gotham. Helena initially displayed anger towards Oracle over her perceived abandonment of the team in order to help train the new Batgirl, but nonetheless tearfully accepted her offer. Huntress then aided Black Canary (who had now left the Justice League) in a battle against a new villainess calling herself the White Canary.
- Archery: Huntress carries her trademark crossbows on her at all times. Whether they're dual mounted mini-crossbows or one large crossbow is up to her as she has proficiency to use both. She's once used a single bolt to split a bullet in two.
- Criminology: Huntress grew up in a criminal environment and later spent a few years surrounded by gangs and criminals. If there ever was a street-wise hero who stayed on the straight and narrow it would be the Huntress.
- Driving: Huntress is an effective driver, able to pilot the Batmobile in high stress and combat situations as well as her own motorcycle at varying degrees of above-average driving situations (being shot at, accelerating to high speeds and over semi-separated bridges).
- Firearms: Over the years Huntress realized that firing and reloading bolts at armed individuals may not be the most effective even if they were the most non-lethal. She's adapted her arsenal over time to include various firearms.
- Investigation: Batman, himself, has mentioned Huntress's prowess during investigation situations. She is credited as the "Batman" of the Birds of Prey team and regularly spends her free-time solving cold cases especially when the Mafia is involved.
- Martial Arts: Huntress was very much a street fighter before honing her skills in martial arts. She spent many years getting into intentional fights just to prove and test her mettle. She has since fine-tuned her skill after years of work with Black Canary. She learned various disciplines of martial arts, enough to challenge even Lady Shiva. She prefers to use a specific kind of Kung Fu learned from Richard Dragon.
- Dragon Style Kung Fu: One of the many disciplines she has learned is Dragon Style Kung Fu.
- Muay Thai
- Stick Fighting: Although she prefers to use her martial arts and hand-to-hand combat when it comes to close quarters, there have been many occasions where Huntress has used her Battle-Staff to take on multiple enemies.
- Multilingualism: She can speak both English and Italian fluently.
- Peak Human Condition: Huntress works hard to keep her body in peak physical condition. She stated her costume change to include more skin was a result of her 300 ab crunches a day.
- Pedagogy: Before and sometimes during her career she has taught at various schools and varying people the complicated language of English. She has cited her skill as a teacher on a few occasions but prefers to leave her civilian life out of sight.
- Stealth: Huntress can be very stealthy when she needs to. With her specially outfitted suit and various toys in her utility belt she can sneak into a facility and learn whatever information she desires although she sometimes prefers to fight her way in.
- Throwing: Helena learned the art of throwing from her cousin Salvatore Asaro.
- Huntress' Crossbow: A small sized crossbow mounted on either or both of her forearms.
- Huntress Battle-Staff: A collapsible, combat metallic staff that she has used since the very beginning of her adventures.
- Utility Belt
- Her first costume was modeled after that of the heroic Earth-Two version.
- When she was first introduced, Helena Bertinelli middle name was Janice. After the reality-altering Zero Hour event, it was changed to Rosa.
- Helena has had a one night stand with Nightwing, a fling with Arsenal, a one night stand and short-term relationship with the Question, and an implied threesome with Lady Blackhawk and Hal Jordan 
- Helena has a lot of similarities with Marvel's The Punisher: both lost their loved ones and have an Italian descent. Also Castle and Bertinelli were both devouted catholics (Castle was a semenarian before joining the army). And both vow to destroy every organized crime unit they encounter. But Huntress is a current member of the Justice League while Punisher still remains a murderous lone anti-hero.
- Alexander Luthor revealed that if the Crisis on Infinite Earths had not occurred, Helena Bertinelli would have originally been a resident of Earth-Eight.
- Huntress Recommended Reading
- Wonder Woman (Volume 1): 271– #321
- Birds of Prey (Volume 1)
- Birds of Prey (Volume 2)
- Huntress: Darknight Daughter
- Huntress (Volume 1)
- Justice League International Special #2
- Huntress (Volume 2)
- Huntress: Year One (Volume 1)
- Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood (Volume 1)
- Batman: Huntress & Spoiler #1
- Nightwing/Huntress (Volume 1)
- Robin III (Volume 1)
- Huntress (Volume 3)
- 441 Appearances of Helena Bertinelli (New Earth)
- 185 Images featuring Helena Bertinelli (New Earth)
- 40 Quotations by or about Helena Bertinelli (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Helena Bertinelli (New Earth)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #6
- ↑ Helena's adoption of James was not legal; They simply moved out of Gotham City to somewhere where they were not known and lived together as a family Justice League International Special #2
- ↑ Huntress: Year One (Volume 1)
- ↑ Detective Comics #662
- ↑ Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood (Volume 1)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1
- ↑ Battle for the Cowl: The Network #1
- ↑ Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3
- ↑ Batman: Streets of Gotham #5-6
- ↑ Azrael (Volume 2) #2
- ↑ Birds of Prey (Volume 2) #1-2
- ↑ Birds of Prey #116
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood #4
- ↑ Nightwing/Huntress (Volume 1)
- ↑ Outsiders (Volume 3) #12
- ↑ Justice League: Cry for Justice #2
|Batman Family member |
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|Outsiders member |
This character is or was primarily a member of the super-hero team known as the Outsiders, in any of its various incarnations. They are a black ops team dedicated to fighting evil and taking the fall in public opinion that bigger groups like the Justice League cannot, started by Batman to avoid being crippled by public relations needs. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Outsiders members" category.
|Checkmate Member |
This character was a member of the top secret government organization Checkmate. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the "Checkmate members" and "Government Agents" categories.
|Justice League member|
This character is or was a member of the Justice League of America, or the Justice League in any of its various incarnations, sworn by a duty to act as guardians of America and the world by using their skills and/or superpowers to protect Earth from both interstellar and domestic threats.
Birds of Prey member