Huntress: Year One #1
Written by Ivory Madison
Pencils by Cliff Richards
Inks by Art Thibert
Colors by Jason Wright
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover price: $2.99; Available now
One of the greatest actions that DC has taken of late is the Year One line of comics. Batgirl, Nightwing, Green Arrow, Metamorpho, and others have all received the Year One treatment, bridging that gap between hapless nobody to lycra-wearing superhero.
The latest installment of the Year One franchise is Huntress, another of the Bat-verse characters entirely deserved of recognition.
Now, to be fair, I am a massive Batman Universe fan, and thus anything to do with any Bat-character I am intrinsically drawn too. Born to one of Gotham’s Mafia families, Helena Bertinelli, aka, the Huntress is definitely one of the Bat-verse’s more emotionally charged characters.
Written by Ivory Madison and penciled by Cliff Richards (fairly certain not the same one your thinking of), this story tells the first part of a six-issues series reinvisioning the origin of Huntress. Written by comics newcomer, but no stranger to the writing scene, Madison is the founder and CEO of Red Room.
Madison very definitely takes her cues from the original Year One story, written by Frank Miller for Batman. The link between Helena and Bruce Wayne is similar, in that both sets of parents were killed before the eyes of the helpless children. However, in Helena’s case, it created in her a sense of righteous anger simultaneously linked with helplessness. It could be this that Madison is trying to create to explain the Huntresses’ penchant for unnecessary violence, compared to Batman‘s seeming reticence.
Not that Batman can’t get down and dirty with it, of course, but Helena has killed, and is more willing to kill than the Batman, who makes a point of never killing his victims, though victims they be in the end.
Helena’s upbringing was not fun, and Cliff Richards’ art vividly tells the story of a young, frightened girl, deeply attached to her brother who, until taken away by a mob killing, seems to be her only leash to normalcy.
Her father is, for all intents and purposes, a very bad man, and this is clearly expressed time and time again in the first few pages. The story of how she lost her parents is interweaved in to the present, as Helena comes back from hunting and soon has to deal with some mob-type men come to kill her, at the bequest of her Uncle Tommy.
However the story of her swing towards vigilantism is told after her parents and brother are shot by a masked hitman. Her helplessness and later desire to right the wrongs of men starts here, when the hitman leans down, takes a hold of the cross around her neck, and rips it away “as some kind of sick souvenir.”
There is a beautiful page, and I use the word beautiful here as a literary device, where Helena, tears streaming down her face, screams out with three dead relatives lying around her, blood spattering her young girl’s dress.
This issue fills me with hope for the following issues, as the story told is remarkably insightful, psychologically speaking. Actual thought has gone into the method behind the story, a story that is intent on creating a background for a very complex character.
There were few things that I was upset with in this book. There is an abundance of purple, framing Helena’s narration of events that seems to clash a little with the morose nature and coloring of the book itself. The way that Helena is drawn as well seems once again to follow the stereotypical female comic character, a character who can’t seem to stand up straight without pushing her breasts out and slinking as she walks.
Lastly, the turn that is taken with the last few panels and last full page spread is stupidity at its height. Now whether this is an intentional attempt to focus on Helena’s lack of self control, or the result of bad storytelling, I’m not certain. But for all intents and purposes I felt that, reading these last few pages, there were massive gaps in the story to explain why Helena goes all kick-ass in a police station.
This comic gets 3 out of 5 for the story, and 4 out of 5 for the artwork. But the low story score is simply for the last page and a bit, and thus I still suggest that any fans of the Bat-verse should run out and get a hold of this comic. Definitely well worth your time.