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Huntress: Crossbow At The Crossroads Graphic Novel Review

6 min read

Huntress - Crossbow At The Crossroads
Huntress – Crossbow At The Crossroads
Huntress gets out of country for a bit to deal with a problem that’s impacting Gotham.

What They Say:
As the last survivor of a crime family eliminated by bloody rivalries among the mobs of Gotham City, the orphaned Helena Bertinelli grew into the mysterious vigilante known as the Huntress. Huntress creator, Paul Levitz, returns in this action packed journey through the bowels of Italy’s most deadly crime syndicates. Huntress sets out to uncover and destroy a deadly human trafficking and gun-smuggling operation that extends to the highest reaches of the government.

The Review:
I’ve long been a fan of the character of the Huntress, but similar to Power Girl and Supergirl, she’s suffered over the years with reworked origins and finding a proper place within the DC universe. With the New 52 relaunch, she doesn’t get her own series but she gets her own miniseries, which is a pretty decent thing to do. Written by Paul Levitz, a very long time part of the whole DC Comics operation, he’s someone that I gravitated towards many, many years ago due to his work on the Legion of Super-Heroes more than anything else. Here he’s teamed up with Marcus To on the art side in order to give us a story involving Helena traveling to Italy. Unlike most of the other New 52 books which offer up some form of back story to let us know how she figures into this post-Flashpoint universe, this one doesn’t do any of that.

For Helena, she’s come to Italy to deal with a problem at the source that’s impacting Gotham. Arms shipments are always a safe bet when it comes to finding something illegal to bring into the city that will find a buyer and she’s opted to travel to deal with it, meeting up with a few local friends that are reporters in order to connect with the scene. This helps to make it a bit more realistic in a way since she’s not just dropping into the country and knowing everything about it. She does have some knowledge, but the running internal dialogue is fairly amusing as she’s mostly keeping track of the way so many Italian men aren’t living up to her image of what they’re supposed to be. But then again, criminals are criminals the world around, so it doesn’t exactly shock her all that much when she gets down to it after awhile.

The book plays like a straightforward semi-detective caper as she makes her attempt on a shipping container where she’s sure the guns are that will lead her to her next stage. Unfortunately, there’s also some sex trafficking going on as there’s a bunch of women that have just come in and are mixed with it, which makes her assignment all the more difficult. But it also makes it more personal for her as she just can’t abide by that. The guns are bad enough with what they do, but this deals with something even more disturbing in a way and that sets her to figuring out what else the operation is up to. The Italian man behind this, Moretti, definitely fits in with the standard wealthy and powerful man in his prime who is doing what he wants to get wealthier and build up his empire. He’s also worked the usual bribes, kickbacks and debts owed with those in the police and government to make his work go even more smoothly. It’s all fairly by the numbers when you get down to it, which is the main weak point going on here. You could remove Helena’s costume and she could be any private investigator doing this or an undercover cop.

Naturally, there’s more going on with what’s happening here as Helena eventually discovers where the women are coming from as it’s part of the whole Arab Spring event going on at the time, where some of those dictators that know that they’re on their way out are sending out many, many young women to help smooth the path for their own exit in terms of wealth and connections. And with it focusing on the fictional country of Kufra, we see the dictator there, the Chairman, using it even more so to his advantage as the women are daughters of dissidents and others that are struggling against his dying regime. Except the regime isn’t really dying, it’s just setting up for a smooth behind the scenes transition of power where the same things will go on, but it will “look” democratic to the Western powers. Helena’s getting caught up in that certainly has a lightly delayed timeliness to it, but it’s welcome to see some connections to the changes in the real world being reflected here.

While the story isn’t a huge grabber, it is pretty well executed even if it feels like it could have been a bit tighter in four issues or five rather than six. Levitz does a decent job with it and the dialogue is well handled, though most of it is “translated from Italian” so you have the brackets around the majority of it when it should be just understood. Marcus To does a good job with the artwork, providing for some good looking locales that have the Italian flare to it, but there aren’t a lot of scenes that really speaks to the natural splendor of the land. More of it comes from the dialogue and narration more than the set designs. But his character artwork is strong, even if it has more poses than it should for a character that’s supposed to be somewhat stealthy, but it’s mitigated by knowing that Helena is a Batman wannabe on some level and just doesn’t have his precision and flair for the theatrical as she just wants to get in there and rough it up.

In Summary:
The first Huntress of the New 52 relaunch is a decent work, but it’s also one that I fell out of quickly. I had picked up the first issue when it was released digitally and I almost didn’t finish it and I certainly didn’t grab any further ones. I like the character at a lot, but the story here doesn’t do what I really wanted it to do, which was to establish her presence in the post-Flashpoint universe. What we do get is a well executed investigation story with some action to it and ties to events in the real world that happened in recent memory. Levitz provides a solid story, though one that you can generally see playing out easily enough, and To dresses it all up well with some good artwork that never feels like it really captures the mood and intensity of the situation at times. Helena has had plenty of stories over the years and this fits in well with all of them, but it’s also one that won’t stand out and be any more memorable than most of those past adventures were either.

Grade: B