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The Huntress is the "black sheep" of the Bat-Family.
A vigilante motivated by anger, vengeance and the policy that "Blood Cries for Blood", Huntress' anger and willingness to use deadly force has caused concern among the other Bat-Family members who recognize her good intentions, even if they disagree with her excessive, and sometimes permanent, methods.

While skilled and driven, Helena possesses a violent ruthlessness and no initial compunction against killing. Batman has made many attempts to curb these potentially destructive traits, nominating her for membership in the Justice League of America in the hopes that some of the more tolerant heroes may become an influence for her future actions.
After various adventures and civilian jobs she now operates as field leader for Oracle's Birds of Prey strike team.

Background[]

Maria Panessa Bertinelli was the wife of Franco Bertinelli; head of the Bertinelli mafia family; the head mafia family of Gotham City. While a loyal and devote wife, Maria was subjected to frequent beatings from her husband and so Maria began an affair with a man named Santo Cassamento and eventually became pregnant by him. When Maria gave birth to this child of her illicit union, she chose the name Helena Rosa.

Helena, along with her brother, Pino, witnessed her mother's frequent beatings and fantasized about becoming the Pope "to make sure daddy goes to hell". Her unrestrained animosity towards her father impressed him, causing him to form the opinion that she would be more suited to taking over the family business instead of her brother.
When Helena was eight, a mafia hit was issued against the entire Bertinelli clan due to their growing power and an assassin known as "Omerta" entered the Bertinelli household and executed all of the family but Helena, who he intentionally spared due to orders to "spare the sister".

Orphaned, Helena was placed under the care of her Uncle Tomasso's nephew, Salvatore Asaro, and was taken to Sicily where she would be kept safe. Helena remained there for a number of years, watching her cousin and uncle train and practice with weapons and hand-to-hand combat.
While her uncle, Nicola Asaro was a boring, ignorant man, Salvatore stepped in for her deceased brother and comforted her as she grew into her new family. While growing, Helena's tutor, Justina, encouraged Helena's independent streak against the mafia's tendency toward male dominance.
Eventually, Salvatore showed her how to fight and she trained until the age of fifteen when she was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland to protect her from the coming Italian authorities who were in the process of enacting a raid against all members of the Mafia family.

Following her completion of school, Helena returned to the Asaro Farm in Sicily and, when she was on the verge of turning twenty-one, she was approached by Tomasso who collected her for a family meet where she met Tony Angelo, the son of the Angelo mafia family, and quickly fell in love with him.
Staying with the meet, Helena intended to use her inheritance to free her stepbrother, Salvatore, from prison. However, she soon discovered that the current head of the Angelo family, Nino Angelo, was raping Tomasso's sixteen year-old daughter. As the daughter opted to lie and blame Helena for the injuries instead of Angelo, Tomasso disavowed Helena of any further help after informing her of Salvator's death during a prison fight. Taking matters into her own hand, Helena beat Nino with his own baseball bat while he was sleeping.

After attempting to receive her inheritance led to the discovery that someone was siphoning away her family's entire fortune, Helena returned to the meet one last time to say goodbye to Tony before embarking to retrieve the rest of her inheritance from a Mafiosi ritual being held beneath an opera between some of Sicily's most powerful male figureheads; including head of the mafia worldwide syndicate; Stefano Mandragora.
While unaware that Helena had been the "commando" who stole the Bertinelli inheritance from him, Mandragora intended to lure her to a party hosted by himself in order to kill her as a loose end.
After a surprise revelation that her stepbrother was not dead, but had escaped prison and now served as a priest, Helena learned that Mandragora was the one behind her family's deaths. Armed with this knowledge, Helena willfully accepted Mandragora's invitation to his party and used his money, originally intended to be used to buy a gown for the party, to fund the creation of a commando suit to kill Mandragora in. While managing to kill the man who issued the order, Helena now wished to hunt down the assassin who killed her beloved mother.

While managing to find him, she was nearly killed in their first encounter. Tracking the assassin back to Gotham, Helena discovered Nino Angelo arranging a Mafiosi hit on the board members of Wayne Enterprises with Bruce Wayne and confronted the playboy on it, however, she was interrupted by Batgirl's arrival.
A further attempt at Angelo resulted in Omerta killing the Mafiosi and Helena being confronted by Batman, only to be saved by Catwoman. In a confrontation that culminated with Helena, Batman, Catwoman, Salvatore, Tony, Omerta and the new head of the Sicilian Mafiosi, Helena enacted her revenge by cutting out Omerta's tongue before seeking shelter within the church where she makes an oath to continue her mission to destroy the mob's grip on Gotham and the world.

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Trivia[]

  • Huntress first appeared in The Huntress (April 1989).
  • Huntress is voiced by Clair Hamilton.
  • As a day job, Helena Bertinelli is a High School English teacher. Her vigilante activities, however, sometimes lead to unexplained injuries and absences from work that mar her professional record.
  • A devout Catholic, Helena possesses a Catholic rosary cross pendant given to her by her mother. Temporarily stolen by Omerta, she took it back after slicing his tongue from his mouth.
  • Helena first saw the Batman when she was sixteen attending her uncle's birthday party in Gotham. The fear the Mafiosi showed towards the vigilante inspired her for years to come.
  • Helena is the sole surviving heir of the Bertinelli mafiosi crime-family which stretched from Gotham to Chicago and New York. She has inherited a family fortune amassing to around 3 billion European dollars.
  • One of Helena's tutor's many lessons to her about female power included the revelation of a female Pope in history and this saying: "In all operas, women only matter if they are young, innocent, and die because men can't handle women their own age, you see. And innocence is overrated. As for death, well, you must vow to outlive them all." Another of her sayings was "Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim."

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