This Batman article contains spoilers.
Tom King and Clay Mann’s Batman/Catwoman kicked off its complex thread of mysteries earlier this month. In the present, the Bat and the Cat set out to search for Andrea Beaumont’s missing son, while an older Selina Kyle pays a friend a visit in the future, with the first issue concluding with the return of killer vigilante the Phantasm.
It’s hard to say just where these threads are going after just one issue, but we do know that at least one new character from Bruce and Selina’s future and DC Comics’ past is set to play a major role in this story. As revealed by King and Mann on Twitter, Helena Wayne, the daughter first teased in King and Lee Weeks’ amazing Batman Annual #2 (2017), will don the cape and cowl in the maxi-series.
The cover for Batman/Catwoman #4 features Helena in a full Batsuit, complete with a cowl that pays homage to the Dark Knight’s earliest appearances in Detective Comics. Overall, the suit looks very cool, with spiky shoulder pads and armor across her chest as well as a backlit Bat symbol that shines bright in the murky night depicted on the cover.
Readers who have been following King’s Bat saga since he took over Batman from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in 2016 know that Helena’s turn as the Caped Crusader has been a long time coming. While this new version of the character was introduced in the aforementioned annual as an adult helping her mother come to terms with Bruce’s death years into the future, the Catwoman 80th Anniversary 80-Page Spectacular took things all the way back to the beginning, to the very moment when Selina discovered that she was pregnant with Bruce’s child. The final page of the spectacular also picked things up where the annual left off, with Helena walking with Selina through the Wayne grounds after Bruce’s death.
Batman Annual #2 also established Helena Wayne as the future Batwoman, a title I assume she’ll keep in Batman/Catwoman. She even wore Kate Kane’s costume in the annual, although it looks like Helena has found herself some new threads since then.
Despite her brief cameos in King’s work so far, Helena Wayne has a very long history in DC Comics. Created in 1977 by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, Joe Orlando, and Bob Layton, her first appearances were in DC Super Stars #17 and All Star Comics #69 as Earth-Two Bruce and Selina’s daughter. While Levitz, Staton, and Orlando started working on Helena after Layton suggested that an Earth-Two Batgirl should be added to the Justice Society of America lineup, they gave the character her own alias and origin as the Huntress, a character that encapsulated the aesthetics of both the Bat and the Cat. (The Golden Age also featured a character named Huntress, but she was a supervillain unrelated to Helena.)
In her earliest adventures, the Huntress worked with the JSA, as well as second-generation superhero team Infinity Inc, where she became good friends with Power Girl, Earth-Two’s version of Supergirl. Huntress also visited Earth-One (DC Comics’ main universe at the time) in 1978’s Batman Family #17-20 to work alongside Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Batwoman. Touched by meeting another version of her father on a new Earth, Helena took to calling Earth-One’s Batman “Uncle Bruce.”
Most of Helena’s solo adventures in the late ’70s and early ’80s happened as backup stories in issues of Wonder Woman until she was killed off in 1986’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, which also completely erased Earth-Two from continuity. But the Huntress character would rise again with a new origin story in 1989’s The Huntress series by Joey Cavalieri and Joe Staton. This time, the Huntress was Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a powerful Mafia family who will stop at nothing to avenge the death of her parents (this origin has been revised a couple of times since then).
Helena Wayne would return after 2006’s Infinite Crisis and 52 brought back the multiverse. She was once again a member of the Justice Society. But there was one more version of Helena created in 2006: Helena Kyle, Selina’s newborn daughter on the main DC Earth. Appearing in issues of Catwoman at the time, baby Helena was eventually put up for adoption by Selina, who feared her life as a master thief/vigilante would put her daughter in too much danger.
After Flashpoint, Helena Wayne continued to appear in storylines set on Earth-2 but nothing as high profile as what King is doing with the character in Batman/Catwoman. But how does Helena fit into King and Mann’s latest Bat yarn? How does she connect to the events that led to Andrea Beaumont becoming the Phantasm once again? We’ll find out as Batman/Catwoman continues.
Batman/Catwoman #2 is out on Jan. 19.