“Everything’s always okay until someone hunts you down and kills you.” – Helena Bertinelli
With her current appearances as well as her upcoming return in CWs Arrow, what better way to get to know the costumed heroin rather than to give a brief history of Gotham’s vigilante? The Huntress operates mainly out of Gotham City and is a member of the Batman Family. Helena’s a devout Catholic and in touch with her Italian heritage. Her career is inspired by a personal vendetta against organized crime responsible for killing her entire family, but she was originally an outcast from the heroic community due to her ruthless methods and willingness to kill. In time, Helena’s learned to temper her methods and has become accepted by her peers, eventually becoming a member of the Justice League and Birds of Prey. Helena’s mother, Maria Panessa Bertinelli was the subject of frequent beatings by Franco Bertinelli of the Mafia family in Gotham City. Eventually, Maria began an affair with Santo Cassamento and eventually became pregnant so Franco continued beating her until she gave birth to Helena Rosa. During the first eight years of her life, Helena lived in the Bertinelli household unaware of the criminal activities taking place there until a man barged into the house, shooting Franco, Maria and Pino but spared Helena.
It’s discovered the hit came from Mandragora with Helena’s biological father passing the order to spare the sister, meaning Maria, but the gunman confused Maria with Helena. Helena was then placed under the care of Salvatore Asaro and was taken to Sicily where she was kept safe for a number of years. During this time, Helena watched her cousin and uncle train in hand-to-hand combat as well as the use of weaponry, later asking her cousin to teach her starting with a crossbow and trained until she was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland at age fifteen. While keeping track of what was happening, Helena realized the Mafia was a force of corruption and she returned to Gotham after turning sixteen to spend Christmas with her uncle, but despised everyone present when Batman arrived to fight everyone at the party. Helena returned to Switzerland and began plotting vengeance against the mob by returning to Sicily and taking a number of weaponry, then enrolling at the university in Palermo where she learned all about the Mafia. Helena then constructed her costume and a number of weapons and returning to Gotham in pursuit of vengeance as the Huntress.
After her arrival, Huntress ended the lives of Mandgragora and the assassin that murdered her family, later beginning a brief romantic relationship with Nightwing while working together on a murder case of a police officer connected to the Mafia. During No Man’s Land, Helena briefly donned the Batgirl disguise to inspire fear into Gotham’s criminals while also donning her Huntress disguise and even began making a habit of marking territories which would be adopted by criminals. Eventually Batman made Helena give up the Batgirl mantle and it was then given to Cassandra Cain, but maintained her Huntress persona while also allying herself with a renegade police officer to the point where she assisted capturing Nightwing and Oracle, helping them escape later. On Christmas Eve, Helena was attacked by Joker when he shot her five times, but she survived and fully recovered which earned the Dark Knight’s respect. Bruce then nominated her for a position in the Justice League to curb Helena’s violent attitude, later revoking it when she was about to kill Prometheus. After a series of murders that pointed to Helena as the killer, she became wanted by Batman and Nightwing, but she stumbled into the bay to be rescued by the Question and taken to Canada where she was trained by the Question’s sensei for three months.
The duo then traveled back to Gotham where she shared her story of becoming Huntress and the two became romantically involved, later discovering her biological father had framed her so she asked her uncle a favor. Her father Santo, was then lured to the docks and killed by Tomasso’s men and the Question didn’t approve of Helena’s methods so their relationship ended abruptly. Bruce eventually funded Helena for a new uniform and bike and was later drugged by Scarecrow then manipulated into attacking Catwoman, but with Batman’s help, the drugs wore off and she fully recovered. Helena then found herself allied with Oracle and Black Canary while fighting crime in both Gotham and Metropolis as an official member of the Birds of Prey. While with the team, she also served with the Outsiders when Arsenal was shot five times in the chest, but was at constant odds with Nightwing, leaving after Roy fully recovered. When she believed Oracle was manipulating her, Helena abruptly left the group and returned to Gotham to set two mobs against each other while also gathering information for Batman.
A year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Helena became the Bird of Prey’s team leader after Dinah’s departure where she redesigns her costume to fully cover her body, but after the team disbands, Helena returns to Gotham to aid the Bat-Family contain the outbreak of violence and even helped Dick against Black Mask after Grayson takes the Batman mantle. After Bruce Wayne’s supposed death, Helena then joined the Network and worked with Batgirl and Oracle in breaking up a lethal gambling game run by Hugo Strange and was later left in charge after Grayson went to confront Jason Todd. After Dick donned the mantle of Batman once more, Huntress continued her crime-fighting activities where she ran into Man-Bat and teamed-up after discovering he was hunting a killer and also had a run in with Azrael. During Brightest Day, Oracle gathered the Birds of Prey in Gotham where Helena trains the new Batgirl and aids Dinah Lance in a battle against White Canary. In the New 52, Helena has returned in her own miniseries and also teams with Power Girl.
Helena is in peak human condition and carries a trademark crossbow with her at all times. She is also a very effective driver with the ability to react during high-stress and combat situations and is considered a street fighter until honing her skills in martial arts and kung fu as well as learning from Black Canary. Helena is also credited as the Batman of the Birds of Prey, regularly spending her free-time solving cold cases.