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Justice League Unlimited #2

Posted: Friday, October 8, 2004
By: Ray Tate



"Poker Face"

Writer: Adam Beechen
Artists: Ethan Beavers, Heroic Age(c)
Publisher: DC

The Huntress as most know was originally Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.  She was the toughest crimefighter on earth-two and ranked pretty high as well on earth-One's short list.  As usual, after the Crisis, her status was completely destabilized and more than once. 

Reintroduced by her creators in her own series, at least you could say she was effective.  However, without the legacy of the Bat and the Cat, Huntress lost quite a bit of resonance and indeed a need for existence.  When she was re-reintroduced by Chuck Dixon, she lost her intelligence and skill, and really the only time the post-Crisis Huntress ever worked after the cosmic upheaval was, with the exclusion of elseworlds graphic novels, in various incarnations of the Justice League.  This is largely due to the memory that Huntress belonged among a larger team of heroes; the original inheritor of Gotham served in Infinity Inc. and the more prestigious Justice Society. 

As a member of the JSA, she regularly teamed up with the JLA and her "Uncle Bruce": the endearing way she referred to the earth-One Batman.  Huntress was later reintroduced in a version close to the post-Crisis incarnation within the Batman animated comic books. This only highlighted the complete generic nature of the character.

The latest issue of JLU sports Huntress, in a sneakily bat-like cape, on the cover.  Her presence did give me pause because I did not think even those behind the animated series or the animated spin-off comic books could do anything with this cipher of a character.  I do not know if Huntress has appeared on Justice League Unlimited in any starring fashion, but I would say that in this issue of the animated spin-off readers will witness her best debut since the Birds of Prey television series. 

I'll assume that the writer and artist are following with regard to the Huntress a series Bible.  So, I will for her creation and design credit the creators of JLU as opposed to the creative team on the comic book.  The new Huntress is smart, personable and in appearance a woman of color.  This is nothing short of brilliant.  Timm and company have wisely said to themselves "All right, if she isn't related to Batman in any way, why should we even pretend?"

The post-Crisis Huntress originally operated in New York.  Chuck Dixon moved her to Gotham.  There was no need.  Gotham has a hero, and his name is Batman.  She had zero connection to Gotham since she was no longer the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Dixon generated the antagonism between Batman and Huntress. There was again no need. It just made Batman seem like a male chauvinist.

The comic book Huntress based upon the cartoon works smoothly with the Justice League, kids around with Superman and the Flash, and lacking her what's left of continuity counterpart's grating personality and turnip-like intelligence proves herself to be a formidable fighter and a valuable member of the League.

The creative team for the second issue of Justice League Unlimited focuses on Superman.  You cannot however take your eyes off their version of Huntress.  Definitely sexy and not slutty or sleazy, she simply stands out in a crowd of heroes--something the post-Crisis Huntress never could claim to do.  She is part of the interaction between teammates and a participator against the Royal Flush Gang--who have been amped considerably for the cartoon series. 

Despite the potential for crowdedness, the artist give a lot of room to allow the characters to wow their reading audience.  The entire creative team tie everything into a very light-hearted Justice League poker game, which features a spectacular punchline. What's more, they give me reason to like a Huntress who is not Helena Wayne. That alone is worth four bullets.



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