The Huntress a five-issue mini-series by Levitz with art by Red Robin's Marcus To, will reveal what happened to the former Birds of Prey heroine now that DC is relaunching its titles this fall. And it takes Levitz into a new corner of the DCU, as he expands beyond the Legion of Super-Heroes stories he's been writing for the publisher.
While several DC characters and teams are experiencing total reboots during the relaunch, the Batman family of characters appear to have very few alterations.
According to Levitz, there are also few changes to the Huntress, and those will be "subtle." In The Huntress mini, Helena goes on the hunt in Italy for what Levitz calls "a Modesty Blaise kind of caper story."
Helena Bertinelli, the heroine known as Huntress, was the tough, independent daughter of a Gotham mob boss who turned toward fighting crime after her family was slain. Although she currently functions within the world of Batman, her vengeful and violent nature means she often works outside the "Bat-family" of characters.
But her recent association with the female-dominated Birds of Prey team appears to be continuing in the future. According to DC, this mini-series will set up things for an upcoming Huntress tie-in to the new ongoing Birds series by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz.
By the end of The Huntress, Helena will have what DC calls the "largest price on her head in DC history." In the new Birds title, the characters are on the run from the law, so Huntress' new status as an on-the-run outlaw fits with the new premise.
Levitz, the former President and Publisher of DC Comics, has recently been writing stories within the world of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In September, he'll continue working with the team in a relaunched Legion of Super-Heroes ongoing.
With The Huntress, not only does Levitz get to tell stories in a new corner of the DCnU, but -- in a way -- he's returning to her character. When Helena Bertinelli was first introduced in the late '80s, she was based on the original "Huntress" character Levitz had earlier co-created. In her first incarnation, Huntress was Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman on an alternate earth, but that character inspired this latest version of the Huntress.
Newsarama talked with Levitz to find out more about his mini-series and what type of story readers can expect about The Huntress.
Newsarama: Paul, this is kind of a reunion for you, isn't it?
Levitz: She's one of my old kids, although obviously in a somewhat mutated form from the original. I've never had a chance to write this version of her.
Nrama: Helena Bertinelli has been around for decades now and was featured most recently as a team member in Birds of Prey. But now that DC is relaunching and rebooting so many characters, will the Huntress go through any changes with this new mini-series?
Levitz: This is a fairly self-contained story, so there are no obvious revelations of gigantic changes from before. If there's anything that goes on in it, it's pretty subtle.
It's a very specific adventure for a number of reasons. The guys wanted to see an adventure of her set in Italy, since it's one of the places where they don't have the flag well posted from other pieces of DC's 52 at the moment. So it was an opportunity to do something there. It's a place I've traveled a little bit, so I have some familiarity.
And it was a fun challenge to sink her into that environment, and see what kind of story could be told that would be a little different flavor than what had happened to her in Gotham. And to take her into this very specific adventure.
I grew up loving Modesty Blaise, one of the great strips and prose series about adventurous, superheroic-type women. That was a great influence on a number of our work in the filed. And this was a chance to do something that was in some ways more like a Modesty Blaise kind of caper story than a giant supervillain story.
Nrama: It sounds like it really removes her from the shadow of Batman, not that she was always in his shadow. But being in Gotham...
Levitz: There's always a shadow.
Nrama: Yeah. As she kind of breaks away to Italy in your mini-series, how would you describe her as a character? Who is Huntress as we pick up #1 of your series, and how is she differentiated from other female characters in the DCU?Early Huntress sketch
by Marcus ToLevitz: One of the things that makes her different from a lot of the other females in the DC Universe is that she has a very focused anger. This is someone who became an adventurer for a set of reasons that are not related to a magic gift of powers or a supernatural kindness. She got pissed and she's doing something about the things in the world that pissed her off. That gives her an edge that maybe some of the others don't have.
Nrama: The solicitation says that by the end of this mini-series, she's going to have the largest price on her head in DC history, and that it will lead into a tie-in with Birds of Prey. Is this "price on her head" something that DC wanted you to accomplish?
Levitz: Yes. The assignment to me was to do something in Italy and have it end with her having this gigantic price on her head. And I'm glad they're publicizing that, because it's going to be important as the story ends.
Nrama: You said Huntress hasn't changed drastically with the relaunch, so assuming she's still working on the side of good, what leads to this price on her head? Without giving the story away, can you explain some of the thoughts behind it? Does it have to do with her being in Italy?
Levitz: It does, because I looked at some of the things that are going on in the world today, particularly in Southern Italy. That region is historically close to the Northern edge of Africa and what goes on in that world. It's a pretty interesting place these days. So we have ramifications that tie everything that's gone on in the Arab Spring to her world. And by the end of it, there are some people who don't like her very much.
Nrama: Are you getting to flesh out the world of Italy for the DCU?
Levitz: It takes place mainly in the area of Italy from Naples and south, which is an interesting area of Italy. There's some absolutely beautiful landscape there, there are some enormous economic challenges in that area, and there's a lot of interesting places. You have Pompeii in the middle of it. We're going to have at least one major sequence set there, which is a cool and different kind of location to have things going on. You have a lot of good, solid history and a fair amount of current events. And as you say, some challenges that wouldn't have been likely to have been found by Huntress in Gotham.
Nrama: In this mini-series, will we get to see the human side of her much, or is this mostly an in-costume story?
Levitz: She's not in costume the whole time, but it's not about secret identity stuff. It's really the Huntress hunting, whether she's hunting as Helena or the Huntress or she's putting on some other identity for a moment to go where she needs to go. This is a very specific pursuit, or at least it starts as a very specific one and evolves into a more complicated adventure.
Nrama: Fans of Marcus To's work are relieved to see him working on something for DC. We've seen the cover. Is he refining Huntress' look for this new series?
Levitz: Yeah, Marcus has been having a lot of fun doing design work. I've seen a bunch of his Huntress imagery. I think in the usual DC 52 fashion, they're using this to refine her costume a bit to the newest incarnation.
Nrama: After working so much on stories about the Legion of Super-Heroes recently, is writing The Huntress offering new writing challenges?
Levitz: It's a wonderful change from doing the Legion stuff. I've been bouncing the last couple of months with a lot of Legion stuff with wrapping up the old cycle and starting the 52 version. But also, I know Denys Cowan has mentioned that I'm working on a Batman story with him. [Editor's note: See Newsarama's coverage of Cowan's description of "Batman: Mortality."]
So it's nice to do something different like The Huntress mini-series. I haven't done anything like this, I guess maybe, ever. When I wrote The Huntress years ago, it was little eight-page back-ups, which was a different rhythm. What's changed is the dynamic of saying, OK, so I've got basically 120 pages to tell this story cycle in, and that's a different plotting structure too.
The Huntress has been wonderful to do. It's got a whole different style and fashion. I went back and re-read some of my Modesty Blaise, and it was good fun. So I'm really enjoying the whole process.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!
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