5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) (DC Comics)

Huntress

(Helena Bertinelli)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Before its 1985-86 reboot, the DC Universe has the Huntress (Helena Wayne), who was cool. But she couldn’t exist in the new reality. So in 1989 DC came up with a new Huntress who was a different woman with non-Batman-centric origins – Helena Bertinelli.

This profile is an older gisted one, updating her game stats and merging the various versions of her biography. We’ll eventually rework everything as discrete profiles focusing on the various eras of the character but… time. Bisogno di più tempo…


Background

  • Real Name: Helena Janice Bertinelli
  • Former aliases: Batgirl II
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Guido Bertinelli (father, deceased), Carmela Bertinelli (mother; deceased), Freddy Caldone (cousin; deceased), Salvatore Asaro (cousin), Santo Cassamento (biological father)
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the JLI, member of the Outsiders
  • Base Of Operations: East Coast of the US
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 130 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black Skin: Unusually fair complexion


Powers and Abilities

The Huntress is a remarkable acrobat, a redoubtable martial artist and a highly dedicated vigilante. She’s also pretty good undercover detective, infiltrator and disguise artist.

Most notable is her unusual talent with weapons. She can use a wide variety of often exotic weapons with great accuracy and speed. Her current arsenal centers around a CO2 projector on her wrist, shooting light crossbow bolts – and various throwing knives and darts. She also uses a powerful pistol crossbow when she needs more power and range.


History

Helena Bertinelli grew up for the most part a normal child, at least while she was young and naïve. She had no clue her family was in the Mafia. She did not suspect that her father Franco Bertinelli was one of the ’big ones’ in Gotham’s mob scene. All Helena really knew was that she loved her mother, brother and father dearly.

Guido Bertinelli was a ruthless and murderous mafioso. But he loved his daughter and tried to protect her from the violence of his world. He failed. When she was 6 years old, Helena Bertinelli was kidnapped and raped. She came to call her attacker The Smiling Man. Haunted by the assault, ashamed, stripped of her sense of safety, Helena became a quiet, obedient and withdrawn child.

When Helena was around 8, another catastrophe befell her. As she was having dinner with her family, the door to their house burst open. One masked man entered her home and slaughtered her family. Helena was left alone and unexpectedly unharmed – physically, at least.

Helena could only sit there splattered with blood, and stare at the corpses until the cops and ambulances came in.

Little Helena was soon packed up and shipped off to her “godfather” Galante, capo di capi for Gotham. After the funeral the godfather had little Helena sent off to Sicily to be protected by her adult cousin Salvatore “Sal” Asaro,. By this point it had become clear that someone was systematically killing off all of the Bertinelli line.

Sicily

The good natured Sal took Helena back to her ancestral home. Seeing a familiar, friendly face helped the kid come back to life a little after weeks of being numb and in denial.

The stark difference between the East Coast and the Sicilian lifestyle and climate looked much like a vacation to her and she uncoiled. The only weird thing to her was that she was absolutely forbidden entering a specific barn on Sal’s property.

While in Sicily she was both tutored at home and sent to a good Catholic school. She still didn’t know that she lived with a family of assassins or that she came from a mob family. Her childhood was fairly average for 3 years.

Yet, she was plagued by nightmares. She would often dream of the people coming back to kill her, or looking for her to kill her, or her family coming back to haunt her. Wanting to help her handle her PTSD , cousin Sal offered to help her to take her life back and live without nightmares. When Helena told him she wanted to heal, he took her to the forbidden barn.

Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) with the belly window costume

The barn held a variety of costumes and weapons. From a priest’s costume, to a large axe and other exotic seeming things. Inside, Sal told her about the Sicilian code of honour. How blood calls to blood.

He then told her to pick a weapon, and she soon held her first crossbow. With the choosing of her weapon came the beginning of her training, both physical and mental.

Even at this she still didn’t realize her beloved extended family was made of assassins and mobsters. She just accepted that they they were in the business of “protection”.

Take the force of the blow

By the time she was 15 or so Helena reached a nearly Olympic level for her age. She could sprint for miles, lift her weight and above, and hit a bullseye from 50 feet away. Sal also personally trained in various martial arts.

The police and the government had been watching Sal and his family for decades. They were able to make a warrant stick. It was during the day that the naïve Helena saw her cousin and his father taken away. They were both as calm as can be, since they expected to be out ASAP.

Only this time they would neither be let out on bond, or the charges dropped. Italy had changed, and the mani pulite  movement was under way. In fact the would stick so well Sal and his family would find them in jail for a very long time.

It took Helena a few weeks to realize why they were in jail. It began by whispers, she would hear what the other students would say, and it spurred Helena on to find out about her family. She started with newspapers, and then old articles in newspapers, and finally anything she could find on them.

When she finally did realize they were assassins she broke down in the library. Even with this blow to her sense of safety, she still clung to the ideal of Sal and how he helped her. While she still found what her family did repugnant she stood by them.

It was around this time that she came back to America to try and reintegrate herself with what was left of her family. But as she now knew the truth she couldn’t stand them. She came to secretly hate the Mafia, the mob and everything tied to the murder of her parents and relatives.

Epiphany

Her epiphany came during a fateful Christmas’ Eve. The Batman crashed the party to deliver a message to Gotham’s mob. The teenage Helena was awed by the formidable masked figure, and felt that such a vigilante could oppose the families.

Once back in her boarding school in Switzerland, she plotted her family’s downfall… her revenge. She also created a costume and rounded up an arsenal for herself, finishing both in the Sicilian familial house after her aunt abandoned it.

Helena came back to the States for college studies in New York. She graduated in education and English, while also cutting her teeth as a new vigilante – the Huntress.

During those early months she stopped a serial killer called the Wyern, and saved New York from nuclear annihilation. It is also there she met the Batman for the first time. Bertinelli then tracked down and killed the “smiling man”, then left New York City.

Once back in Gotham she investigated the murder of her family. The man who put the hit out on all the Bertinellis was actually Tomaso Panessa. The Bertinellis had blocked his family’s attempt at becoming part of the ’five families’ for far too long.

Both the Panessa and the Mandragora families wanted the Panessas in the Big Five, and so Tomaso ordered the hit on Helena’s family.

The hit was managed by Santo Cassamento. This put Cassamento in a delicate position, since he also had an affair with Helena’s mother. This is why the hit had spared little Helena. In return, she felt obligated to spare Cassamento, who also was family in a way. She did kill the hitman though, and kept an eye on Cassamento – waiting for an excuse.

Circle of blood

Helena started teaching at a Gotham high school and leading a semi-normal life. She further patrolled Gotham, and considered integrating with Batman and his ilk.

Her ways, however, were far too deadly and reckless for the bat-types. Her operations in Gotham were barely tolerated. Still she strove to help them from time to time, hoping for acceptance, and received some help in return.

Two years after her return to Gotham, she and Robin (Tim Drake) became friends of sorts.&emsp,They fought against King Snake, and he figured out who she was. Robin kept her secret safe.

Shortly after that Helena became a target of a local crime lord, Tony Bressi. He hired an assassin named Redzone to ice the Huntress, but she remained one step ahead of him. Bressi overreached himself by backing out of the contract with Redzone. In return, the hitman killed Bressi and let the contract drop.

She continued her activities as the Huntress, and eventually ran into the dreaded Joker. As often, things were personal (his plan involved the murder of various children on Christmas’ Eve) and deadly. Helena took 3 bullets and would presumably have been killed or crippled without Nightwing (Dick Grayson)’s intervention.

She started growing close to Nightwing, who managed to persuade her to relax a bit and adopt a more constructive vision of justice.

Nightwing and the Huntress crossed path again when investigating the Mafia-related murder of a prostitute. They ended up having sex against their better judgement. This relationship just couldn’t fly – Nightwing was too young for her, and she was way too reckless for him. However, it did lead to Grayson deducing her identity.

The Batman tried again to tame the Huntress by recommending her for the JLA. His hope was that by becoming a mainstream, recognized hero she would have to curb her violent ways and become acceptable. It didn’t work out – but at least Helena saved Superman from Vandal Savage.

When the Huntress attempted to kill Prometheus she was kicked out by Batman, though she remained in the JLA’s reserve.

Earthquake and calamities

A few months later Gotham was hit by a powerful earthquake. Helena nearly died in the quake, trapped in a subway car along with an homicidal fugitive and a bunch of terribly scared people. She took the fugitive down, and an aftershock freed the trapped subway car.

When she got on the surface, she was in the middle of the post-quake riots and looting. She helped Spoiler at the Westerberg Mall. Many criminals had escaped from Blackgate, and young Spoiler was in over her head. The Huntress’ deadly skills saved the teenager and put an end to the situation.

While Gothamites tried to pick up their lives the area was declared a no man’s land. Most people who could, left. The Huntress fought on to maintain order and peace in this hellhole, but this was nearly impossible – especially after Batman vanished. She didn’t get along well with the remaining heroes, and was frustrated that she didn’t inspire holy terror like the Batman did.

The Huntress ended up allying with dissident cops led by the former head of tactical, Pettit. Pettit, the Huntress and a SWAT team tried to take down Oracle, whom they had identified as an important asset for Gordon and his rival “Blue Boys” gang of ex-cops.

It became obvious that Pettit had gone over the edge, and the Huntress drew a line at killing Oracle and Nightwing, who was present with Oracle. She turned against Pettit and helped Oracle and Nightwing escape.

Again operating on her own, the Huntress made herself a Batgirl-like costume. It worked amazingly well, as the visuals terrified the gangs. Even her spray-painted, bat-shaped tag on the walls was a good ward. However, this use of the Batgirl identity angered Barbara Gordon.

Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) saving a baby in an old street

“Batgirl” eventually faced an invasion by the combined gangs of Black Mask, the Penguin and Two-Face. Outnumbered 60 to one, Bertinelli had to retreat with 6 civilians dead. Batman then returned and held her responsible for this failure.

Rejecting his terms, Helena threw away her Batgirl costume. It would later be used by Cassandra Cain.

Framed and guilty

The Huntress was then elaborately framed for several murders, which accidentally led to a fight with Batman and Nightwing. Bertinelli was almost killed, but was rescued by the mysterious Question (Vic Sage). Sage took the unconscious Huntress to Canada, in the log cabin of Richard Dragon.

Dragon trained Bertinelli for 3 months. His and Sage’s hope was that he could teach Bertinelli to let go of her anger as he had helped Sage years before. Helena made considerable progress, but returned to Gotham to clear her name. The Question opted to come with her. Batman soon intercepted them, but told Helena he now knew she had been framed.

Bertinelli and Sage investigated, which led to Santo “Don” Cassamento, the man who killed Helena’s family. The Don told her he was her father. His affair with Mrs. Bertinelli had lasted longer than Helena thought, and her husband beat and abused her. This stayed the Huntress’s hand for a while.

Eventually, Helena tricked the Don into walking into an assassination at the hand of Godfather Galante. In so doing she betrayed Sage, Dragon and what little trust Batman placed in her. Sage walked away in disgust even though he had fallen in love with her, and Helena threw her Huntress costume away.


Description

See illustrations. The more revealing costume is the one she wore during the 1990s.


Personality

Helena Bertinelli, before the ministration of Richard Dragon, walked a very grey area between hero and murderous vigilante. She was haunted by her childhood trauma, but failed to transcend it and heal it in a constructive manner, like the other vigilantes in Gotham.

Instead her deep fear became rage, and her basic motivation was revenge. She wanted to kill the bad men over and over again for what they had done to her, her family and her life. Her ethos is proactive – to take down the bad men *before* they can hurt somebody. She leaves behind her broken bodies, bleeding wounds, terrified men and, occasionally, a corpse.

While she, deeply, needs to kill the Huntress cannot consciously accept that. She is a faithful Catholic, and cannot easily justify the taking of lives. Thus, she only kill those “who really deserved it” and vents her anger by mercilessly stalking and beating up criminals. She is the Huntress, and they are her prey.

She fights recklessly, throwing around deadly weapons and never hesitating to take hotheaded, impulsive, potentially lethal actions. She also greatly enjoys using psychological violence – mostly intimidation and interrogation through intimidation.

Her obviously violent outlook, fighting prowess and very sharp weapons help her considerably in that respect. The Huntress is emotional, full of passion and is not afraid of letting her emotions instead of her intellect dictate her moves.

Helena refuses to be judged by anyone. It is her story, her pain, her family and nobody should even pretend to understand that. She maintains she has every right to act in the way that she does, and the righteous moral superiority of the Batman infuriates her. She also hates that he can see through her mask to see the terrified little girl.

Yet, despite her rough-edged crusade against crime she actually yearns to be accepted by a new family, that of the Batman and his allies.

Helena’s tragedy, in the end, remains a Sicilian one. No matter what, she is trapped in the red circle of vendetta and family.


Quotes

Nightwing : “You hold it deep inside you. You hide it from everyone but yourself. That’s why you say you want justice when you really want revenge.”
Huntress (snarky) : “What’s the difference, boy wonder ?”
Nightwing (serious) : “You really don’t know, do you ?”

(A firefight erupts in a clandestine gambling den) “Marone ! Isn’t anybody friendly here ? And guns ! Does your mother know you come to a place like this ?”

Robin III : “God… is that blood on your arm ?”
Huntress : “Relax, it’s nobody you know.”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Huntress II

Dex: 07 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 05 Occupation: School teacher
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 009
Init: 021 HP: 035

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing, dodging)*: 07, Animal handling (riding): 05, Artist (actress, cooking): 04, Artist (disguise): 06, Charisma (intimidation, interrogation): 05, Detective: 05, Evasion (Ranged only): 08, Martial artist*: 07, Medicine (first aid): 03, Thief (escape artist, stealth, security systems): 08, Vehicles (land): 06, Weaponry: 08

Advantages:
Familiarity (Catholic liturgy, English lit), Language (French, Italian, Sicilian), Lightning Reflexes, Sharp eye.

Connections:
Nightwing (Low), Street (Low), Underworld (Low), Question (Low), Richard Dragon (Low), Robin III (Low), Outsiders (current (2004) incarnation) (High), Oracle/Birds of Prey (Low).

Drawbacks:
Dark Secret (Mafia family), MIA toward Nightwing, MIA toward recklessness, MIH of killers, Mistrust, Secret Identity.

Equipment:

  • WRIST PROJECTOR [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 15, R#02, Note : Can also be used to shoot a swinging line with a BODY of 08 and a length of 3 APs].
  • COSTUME AND MASK [BODY 01, Blunting: 06, Ultra-vision: 04].
  • Throwing knives (x10) [BODY 04, EV 02, Grenade drawback, Dart Bonus].
  • Pistol crossbow [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 01, R#02].
  • The Huntress has on occasion used various exotic weapons such as :
    • a Boomerang [BODY 04, EV 04, Gliding: 01, Limitation : Gliding only to extend thrown range and glide back to thrower].
    • Flash bombs (x3) [BODY 01, Flash: 04, R#02, Grenade drawback].
    • Stun bombs [BODY 01,Bomb (Bashing): 05, R#02, Grenade drawback].
    • Tranquilizer pistol [BODY 03, Poison touch: 05, Range: 03, Ammo: 05, R#03, Limitation : cannot affect a target with a physical RV above 08].
    • She also used to have a pair of spring-loaded forearm sheaths with combat knives [BODY 06, EV 03 (04 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist), Schick (Fast draw)].
  • The Huntress prefers Italian sports cars for transportation [STR 05 BODY 06, Running: 07, R#02]. And this is prolly your only occasion ever to see a school teacher driving a Lamborghini.

By Sébastien Andrivet based on Mayfair (Who’s Who writeup is considered to be v1).

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): History is an edited version of the one at www.braveandthebold.com. Also Danielle Mendus, Mark and Roy Cowan.

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.