Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Huntress #1 (December, 2011)

When I started this blog, it was going to co-feature the Huntress, a former back-up in early '80s Wonder Woman comics. It only took a few months to realize that I had too much to work with regarding Amazing Amazons to give Huntress due space, and I needed more heroines to cover at another blog, so she moved. Since I decided not to buy the latest Wonder Woman #1 (first by pre-order choice, then by it selling out within two hours of hitting local stands,) and I wanted to cover Action Comics #1 at Huntress' current home, I figured a special return guest appearance was in order...

Helena was finally back in Italy, and disembarking from the plane, wondered "how many corpses I'll leave behind this trip?" On reaching Naples, she was disgusted by the stink of the unresolved garbage strike. She was also down on men, even though she took advantage of them to get herself and her crossbow into the country without dealing with customs.

That night, the Huntress raided a ship with cargo planned to sail for Gotham City. She knocked out a guard with a weighted bolt, then insured that he would sleep through the night with a syringe full of nappytime. In a shipping container, the Huntress found crates full of guns behind the kidnapped young women of Arab descent. The women's pleas drew the attention of two guards, but Huntress' martial arts skills made short work of them. The innocents were escorted off the ship, and the container was destroyed in an explosion.

The next day, the sedated guard reported to his capo, Mr. Moretti. He couldn't care less about the women, who were easily replaceable, but losing a month's worth of smuggled firearms was infuriating. Moretti had security beefed up to deal with the mask, and shot the failed guard in the head.

Helena insisted on keeping things on a first name basis with Allesandro, the reporter who was part of a crusade to help exploited immigrants in the wake of the Arab Spring. "I am sick of reporting this disgusting story to a nation that does not get angry." Helena impaled a newspaper he was shaking to a wall with the toss of a letter opener. Italian citizens may not be concerned with human trafficking, but Helena made her point that at least they were on the case.

Helena, under the alias of Esposito, subtly requested from her bellhop that a prostitute be sent up. Soon, a dark-complected young girl in a tube top and microskirt showed up with a handler, demanding money up front. Helena kicked him in the face, but the scared girl called for help on her cell phone before the vigilante could convince her otherwise. Helena knocked out the call girl with a nerve pinch, then suited up for the inevitable armed response. "It's never simple. I wonder if Batman plans these moments better... or is he just luckier?" The Huntress beat the snot out of four armed enforcers, then left them tied up in her hotel room while she left with the hooker, Afaf. The men were found by more agents of Mr. Moretti, led by Giuseppe, who executed the lot for their failure.

"Crossbow at the Crossroads" was by Paul Levitz, Marcus To and John Dell. Based on a text piece at the back of the book, this story took place on the revived Earth-2, alongside the new Mr. Terrific series. While I always liked the Huntress gaining independence to become her own person, the piece hints that she may again turn out to be the daughter of that world's Batman and Catwoman... or not. Her last name was suspiciously withheld throughout.

With this script, Levitz clearly wanted to prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Decompression, silent action, sparse dialogue, the absence of thought balloons in favor of captions, light exposition, mature elements, and a hero who speaks casually of murder. What Levitz couldn't hide was a clear, conventional narrative and a reliance on action movie tropes, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Of the four first issues I've bought of the "New 52" (though this is technically a 53rd,) I liked this the best. The art is also pretty, like the lovechild of Gary Frank and Sam Basri, without the excessive titillation of the latter's recent work (though it's not completely absent.) To never sacrifices storytelling for money shots, every picture is lovely, his Huntress is athletic while still feminine, and he's great about referencing complex martial arts moves. So far, this is a perfect match of creators and character.

DC New 52

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