This is an issue I didn’t know existed until I was thumbing through the back issue bins during my LCS’ “Shortboxtober” event. I saw the cover and that it was by the same creative team as the Huntress series I’d recently purchased on eBay. And while it does feature several JLI members, the story is more or less issue #20 (maybe issue #20-21 since it’s a 38-pager) of The Huntress.
Meant to tie up loose ends, the story centers around Helena being pulled back in after quitting her vigilantism and moving with James to the suburbs. New York is being “terrorized” by a mob-avenging vigilante named The Hunter who has been hunting down and killing dirty cops. Helena gets with the JLI, comes out of retirement to find him and when she does, she reveals him to be Sal, the bodyguard who had been assigned to her following the deaths of her parents. The rest of the story is more or less a prolonged showdown between Helena, the mob, crooked cops, and The Hunter that ends on the closed and deteriorating Williamsburg Bridge (which, in a real-world connection, had been closed due to poor conditions in 1988). The JLI is there, but seems to just be providing backup and I wonder if Cavalieri used them in the story because it was more or less mandated that he did.
Helena hangs it up at the end and we’re led to believe that will be it for the character, although about a year later she shows up in a Detective Comics #652-653 in a story written by Chuck Dixon and then co-stars with Robin in Robin III: Cry of the Huntress. These two stories, for the most part, are a soft reboot of the character that truly starts her on the road to becoming the character that Batman readers from the Nineties are more familiar with. Here, we have the closing of an era of the character that leaves the door open for said reboot without it going completely against everything that had been laid as a foundation.
As for the issue if the Huntress’ ongoing series was a syndicated action show, this is the television movie produced to wrap things up–even the JLI appears in order to give us a guest star that would make this worth watching. There’s a “let’s tie up loose ends” feel to a lot of this, what with Sal and a number of the police and mafia characters that go all the way back to the first issue making appearances or being mentioned. Cavalieri even gives us enough exposition in some of the conversations and flashbacks to catch up any casual reader who hadn’t read all 19 issues of the original series. Staton is strong and even though Bob Smith isn’t inking him, Pablo Marcos and Mark Nelson (who had inked issue #14 and did the art on the first Dark Horse Aliens series) do a great job at keeping the tone consistent with the rest of the series.
And considering the way that this series always was solid but does pale in comparison to the Huntress’ later stories, this special is a solid ending. I’d say that the series is more than just a curiosity, but beyond finding it in a cheap bin, I wouldn’t go out of your way.
So, for the series …
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?