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Huntress

Huntress: Year One

I feel like I may have read this one before, because it seemed vaguely familiar to me while reading it. I didn’t find a past post about it, so perhaps I read it before we started the blog!

Helena is the last of the once-powerful Bertinelli family. Her father, mother, and brother were gunned down in front of her at the age of eight. She knew someone from within the mob had to have ordered the hit, and vowed to find out who. She trained in Sicily, preparing herself for her 21st birthday: the day she claims her inheritance, and the day she will start exacting her revenge. The mob is controlled by old men, who will soon be overtaken by their children. Helena’s job is to take out them all. Blood calls for blood, but she struggles with the conflict between her mission and her Catholic faith. Can she take her revenge without losing her own soul?

This one was beautifully drawn, but could have been written better. The drawing is clean and solid, with a moody color palette. There is not one line out of place. I spent more time looking over Richards’ illustrations than actually reading. However, the pacing was choppy and uneven. I also found myself disappointed with the portrayal of Helena’s character. She’s ruthless, yes, but there was very little conflict within her about her faith. That faith tempers the Huntress, and it’s one of her defining traits and why she does what she does. There’s very little of that here, so there was almost none of that internal conflict. It felt more like she was indulging in unchecked violence, without any second thoughts, just because she could.

Catwoman makes an appearance and acts as a good foil to the Huntress, making for an interesting dynamic I really wish was better explored. They are both independent women who refuse to be defined or measured up to men, or play by anyone else’s rules but their own. Catwoman is famously amoral, and Huntress at her best is morally sound, even if her methods often bely that fact. Even though Huntress isn’t written at her best here, their dialogue and dynamic is a real treat. I kinda wish there was a spin-off with just these two in it.

In conclusion, the story doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but if you’re looking for top-quality art, look no further.

– Kathleen

Madison, Ivory, Cliff Richards, Art Thibert, and Norm Rapmund. Huntress: Year One. 2009.

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Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within

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Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Tom Derenick, and Joe Bennett. Birds of Prey (Vol. 6): The Battle Within. 2006.

The Birds are back in quite a few adventures here. They tackle a lonely and grieving teenage girl who can absorb the magical powers of other people; a specter named Harvest in the middle of nowhere, Kansas, who is stealing the youth of her victims; and a drug lord and the Twelve Brothers in Silk in Singapore connected to the Gotham mob. Throughout all these adventures, the Birds are having their own inner struggles. Helena is just starting to feel like part of the family; could it be that someone has an ulterior motive for her being there? Barbara is more powerful than ever, due to the bit of Brainiac inside her. But could it turn deadly? When the Birds finally break, can they be put back together?

This volume was awesome. It was super action packed, but also had a lot of inner conflicts within the team and each individual member. The title is very appropriate. I think the thing I like most about this series is, even as all kinds of crap is hitting the fan, it still manages to have funny and touching moments. There’s a bit in here where Helena tells a guy the night they shared was so bad, she’d remain abstinent for the rest of her life. I was at work reading this and I just about DIED XD And, pleasant surprise, it contains one of my favorite comic panels of all time:

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❤ ❤ ❤

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 5): Between Dark & Dawn

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Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Ron Adrian, Jim Fern, Eric Battle, and Eduardo Barreto. Birds of Prey (Volume 5): Between Dark & Dawn. 2006.

Three kids, dressed as superheroes who have already died, have killed themselves in quick succession. It bothers the Birds, and they send Huntress to Kinder Pines, Oregon, where all the kids were last. There, she infiltrates a cult led by a Soveriegn Brusaw, and she’s not quite sure what to think. The kids seem all right, and the Father seems genuine… up until she realizes that her backup, Vixen, no longer recognizes Huntress and has turned against her. In trying to remotely investigate, Oracle suddenly collapses and has a seizure, and soon she realizes it’s not just her inside her head anymore. Meanwhile, the Birds have gained a new member: Savant, who kidnapped and tortured Dinah on one of their first missions. Barbara has tasked him with clearing out a major crime lord in Gotham. This causes uneasiness in everyone, especially Dinah, despite believing whole-heartedly in second chances. Can Huntress get Vixen to snap out of whatever trance she’s in? Will Barbara survive?

You can really see the bond between the Birds tightening in this issue. Everyone has their own personality and their own code, but they share a mutual respect for each other and are even becoming friends – maybe a family. Simone is a great writer. The art is still superb, action-packed and dynamic. Every time I read one of these I fall in love with the series all over again. I might have to start buying them…

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe 4th of July!

– Kathleen

Birds of Prey (Vol. 4): Sensei & Student

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Simone, Gail, Ed Benes, Michael Golden, Cliff Richards, Alex Lei, Ruy Jose, Mike Manley, and Scott Hanna. Birds of Prey (Vol. 4): Sensei and Student. 2005.

This one is way overdue and I’m sorry! I have so many comics and graphic novels on my to-read list and I have a hard time just picking one sometimes XD

Black Canary is in Hong Kong on a personal mission – her sensei is dying of cancer. She runs into Lady Shiva, in town for the same reason. They are targeted by a gang, who was paid to keep them busy while someone poisoned their sensei and his entire household. Canary and Shiva, determined to avenge him, must learn to set aside their differences to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Oracle is dealing with her own issues. She keeps giving her field agents the wrong information without meaning to. She discovers a virus has gotten into her computer system, and there are federal agents waiting to arrest her right outside her own door.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the last issue, but I fell in love with the series all over again. Simone’s writing is upbeat and fast-paced. There was a great flashback scene of Dinah’s mom, the first Black Canary, and an awesome scene with Wonder Woman, too! That made me happy X3 There are other characters that appear briefly as well. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I love this series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue!

– Kathleen

Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads

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Levitz, Paul, Marcos To, and John Dell. Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads. 2012.

Thought I’d continue my Huntress theme with a newer one XD This one was a standalone story right before the New 52 reboot.

Helena traces gun shipments into Gotham back to Naples, Italy, and heads there to shut it down. However, she uncovers not only containers of automatic weapons, but also containers of women fleeing from war in the Middle East. Unable to stand by while vulnerable women fall prey to human trafficking, Huntress goes after the men responsible. There’s Moretti, an Italian crime boss as the storefront, and Ibn Hassan, a government official who supplies the girls. Employing the help of the press and her own ruthless methods, Huntress seeks to bring justice to the women she’s rescued.

This one was kinda middle of the road. Not great – it had it’s moments, mostly with Helena’s snarky one-liners, but they were few and far between. But it wasn’t awful, either. Even the art wasn’t anything spectacular, just kind of standard. There are some nice panels and spreads showcasing the Italian countrysides and seascapes, which is a nice change of pace from the gloomy Gotham streets.

What this book did for me in particular is it got me thinking about the Syrian refugee crisis. There was one panel where Alessandro (Helena’s reporter friend) says, in response to Helena’s wish to make sure the women get a better life, “Many places in Europe do not wish to see more immigrants, or help them” (34[ish. The pages aren’t numbered XD]). I felt that, reading the book in the time that I did, that it was a metaphor for corrupt government and the worldwide apathy towards those in need.

But that was just me. Read it or not; you might be entertained by it, but you’re not missing anything spectacular if you skip it.

-Kathleen

Nightwing/Huntress

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Grayson, David, Greg Land, and Bill Sienkiewicz. Nightwing/Huntress. 2003.

I’ve been on a Huntress kick lately. And even more lately, on a Nightwing kick. I then found this comic and thought, “Well, what could be better???” XD

A prostitute is found dead in a hotel room in mobster Frankie Black’s name, and Huntress is on the case. Problem is, Nightwing was at the warehouse Black was at at the time of the murder – watching him run a gun deal. Someone’s framed him, and the heroes need to figure out how to work together to figure out who. Nightwing is wary of Huntress and her ruthless methods, and Huntress is quickly frustrated by Nightwing’s straight-laced, methodical thinking. However, they find themselves attracted to one another. Under all that, can they work together? And who in the world has good reason to frame a mobster for murder?

I absolutely loved this one. It was interesting to see Huntress and Nightwing interact, since they’re so different. A recurring theme in the comic was loneliness and trying to find your place in a family, in a new relationship, a new place. The mystery keeps you guessing up until the very end. Be prepared for a plot twist! The color palette was subdued, very cool in tones of blue and purple. I loved the designs of their costumes; Huntress isn’t sexualized like a lot of other female superheroes are. However, I am a fan of the finger stripes on Nightwing’s costume – make of that what you will ;D

I definitely need to make a point of reading more of these two! I love Batman but haven’t read a lot of the stand-alone family books – save for Batgirl, of course =P

-Kathleen

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