Saturday, June 23, 2012
DCnU: The Huntress
ci·pher [sahy-fer] noun
2. Any of the Arabic numerals or figures.
3. Arabic numerical notation collectively.
4. Something of no value or importance.
5. A person of no influence; nonentity.
The DCnU's first complete mini-series "Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads" is, as stories go, number 4, a complete cipher. There is barely one issue's worth of story, but it is spread out over six 20-page $2.99 issues. Although the series is beautifully illustrated by Marcus To (with covers by Guillem March & Tomeu Morey), there simply is not enough plot to justify this book's existence. This is narrative decompression run amok.
You would think Paul Levitz, creator of the original Pre-Crisis (if you don't know, don't ask, as there is no easy answer) version of this character and writer of many classic comic book stories, would have the ability to give readers their money's worth but apparently not. Here's the complete story of the first and last issues, spoilers (such as they are) and all:
Issue #1 - Huntress arrives by plane in Naples, Italy. She goes to the docks looking for illegal cargo and on one ship finds white slave girls. She saves the girls, taking out the thugs holding them in the process and blows up the ship. One of the thugs reports the loss to Mr. Moretti, the boss of the slaverunners; Moretti then shoots and kills the thug. The Huntress (in her identity as "Helena") talks to a local journalist (Alessandro) to find information about the slavery ring. At her hotel, Helena pays to have one of the girls brought to her room (as an "escort") and takes out the thug delivering the girl, but the girl is scared and calls for help. Before the help (more thugs) arrive, she changes into her Huntress costume, then knocks out the thugs. When they come to, they report what happened to their boss who then shoots and kills them.
Issue #6 - Moretti's death is reported to Ibn Hassan, who is apparently next up the chain in the criminal organization; Hassan orders an ambassador to have the Huntress killed. Meanwhile the Huntress is driving down a coastal road when the Italian police confront her, though she manages to escape. She steals a boat and calls Alessandro for information. She then breaks into Ibn Hassan's mansion, takes out his thugs and confronts him. He begs her to let him live in exchange for lifting the billion-euro bounty on her head. For no good reason, she agrees, simply warning him to give up the slave girl trade, and saying she doesn't even care if he lifts the bounty or not. She then goes to an airport, avoids the security and finds her flying friend Kara.
We actually learned more about the Huntress in the last page talking to her friend Kara than we did in the previous 119 pages. This series had no character development, no climax, no humor. In the intervening four issues: She encounters thugs, she defeats thugs. Most of them have no names, they're just random Italian criminals. The moral of the story, I guess, is slavery is bad, and so are the people involved. Gee, way to go out on a limb there Paul. With 120 pages, you couldn't throw a theme in there? Some metaphors, maybe? An explanation of the story's tile, perhaps? You couldn't mix the location up a bit? Couldn't you even try to give your villains any motivation? Something besides generic henchmen with guns? Maybe have your antagonists be colorful or memorable? I mean, there was that one big dude wearing the keffiyeh, but only the size and headdress stood out, not the personality. Hell even the Huntress had no personality; she was just someone with an axe to grind against slavers, but this time it wasn't personal as you have to have a personality for it to be personal!
There was more entertaining stories in those old 8-page DC stories in the House of Mystery or in those Silver Age yarns with a cover blurb saying "Why is Robot Pa Kent spanking Matter-Eater Lad?" I would advise against not only buying this series, but against reading it at all. Don't check it out of the library, don't download it, don't read online pirated copies. Just don't. If you like Marcus To's art, see if you can find some illustrations online, because the vapidity of the story serves as a vacuum sucking the enjoyment out of it in this series. If you're interested in the the new World's Finest series co-starring this character, there is nothing here needed to enjoy that series. This series is totally mindless; I mean there isn't even good old fashioned slugfests. Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris movies have a lot of mindless violence, but this doesn't even have that. I mean, some people like schlock, but this isn't even schlock. This is just... a cipher, something void of content or importance.
From 1978's "Legend of the Super-Heroes"