Gritty teeth! Belts and pouches! Internal narration! Gigantic weapons! It must be the 90's!
I think this mini was part of DC's effort to "grim and gritty" things up a bit during the 90's. This version of The Huntress is less "Birds of Prey" superhero and more "Punisher" violent antihero. I'm not sure where it fits into DC continuity, but it looks like it's fairly early in Huntress' career. . .almost like a "Year One" story. I like this version of The Huntress a lot.
I really liked this first issue. Like I said above, it reads like a Punisher comic, getting into Helena's head with first-person thought captions narrating the story as she begins to work her way toward "The Smiling Man", who was one of the men responsible for the death of her entire family.
Standout moments were Helena's base. . .an empty building in the city wired for sound so it seems to be occupied, and a brief scene where it shows her struggling to maintain her secret identity as a teacher while jumping at every sound and touch.
This is a pretty dark and brutal comic, compared to other versions of The Huntress I've seen (let's not even talk about the mess the New 52 made of her). Like I said. . .think "Lady Punisher".
The art is also dark and brutal. DC found a pretty good Frank Miller copycat to do this book. Sometimes the art is a little hard to follow, but it pretty well captures the chaotic nature of The Huntress.
One thing I didn't like was how DC thought they just HAD to throw in a supervillain (Redzone. An armored powerhouse mercenary). Almost like they didn't trust their new Lady Punisher's story to stand on its own against the human darkness of organized crime that is her true enemy here. Other than that, a very strong start.
Another great issue. If anything, more dark and brutal than the first. The Huntress' identity is compromised by a heartless cop and she finds herself pretty much forced to work with him in exchange for the identity of the man she's hunting.
There was a lot of what is the worst part of this series in this issue. . .the supervillain Redzone. Plus there's a side story about a small-time crook that breaks into Helena's base and is caught in a trap that doesn't seem to have much of a purpose beyond padding what is an extremely simple story about The Huntress working her way up a chain of lowlifes toward her target.
The art is still Miller-tastic in the way that only the 90's could be. As much as I don't think an armored supervillain belongs in this story, at least the artist makes him look like a badass.
In the buildup to the final issue of what has been a pretty damn good mini, Huntress discovers that Redzone thinks she killed his brother. He has it all wrong, but doesn't give her time to tell him the truth. Huntress also finds out that Holz has known where the "Smiling Man" she's been hunting has been the whole time and he's been using her like a chump to get closer to the big boss, Tony Bressi.
This issue was mostly fighting. . .with Redzone and with Bressi's thugs. There was some interesting scenes of Huntress on stakeout, but most of this one was setup for what is sure to be a dark and violent finish.
Didn't really like this one as much as the previous issues. Once again, the armored supervillain just doesn't belong in this simple story of revenge and betrayal.
Almost everybody dies. Nobody wins. No happy ending.
Redzone confronts Huntress and dies trying to get revenge on the wrong person. Holz saves Huntress from Redzone and dies for nothing. "The Smiling Man" is caught in the crossfire and dies, denying Huntress her revenge.
Like I said. . .nobody wins. Except the reader. This was a pretty damn good little mini-series. A real hidden gem in my collection. Supervillain nonsense aside, I really wish DC had stayed with this gritty "Lady Punisher" version of The Huntress. It would have made a great Vertigo title, in my humble opinion.
And there it is. . .The Huntress. A great mini-series that makes me ask the question, "Why the hell is there a supervillain in my Punisher story?" Still a pretty damn good read. BONUS: I didn't notice this before, but the covers together form one big picture. Nice!
Next up. . .I took a look at "First Wave", DC's failed startup of a new pulp side universe, now it's Marvel's turn. Marvel Noir: Iron Man! Be there or be square!
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Issue # 429