In this week’s Catwoman 80th anthology, a story by Tom King and Mikel Janín confirms that Batman and Catwoman are having a baby — a daughter that the story’s title reveals will be named Helena.
That name has a lot of history in the DCU, so the choice isn’t surprising. Neither is the pregnancy itself surprising to readers of Tom King’s Batman run, as the "Cat" and the "Bat" were coupling (off and on) for most of the writer’s 85-issue issue run. And King teased in February that his new Batman/Catwoman series would feature a pregnant Catwoman.
Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular takes that a step further, confirming that the baby will be a girl named Helena.
As we anticipate what comes next for Helena, Newsarama takes a look at the history of Batman and Catwoman’s child and the character called Helena Wayne.
First, let’s look back on what the DCU looked like in 1977, when the original Helena Wayne first appeared.
Backing up to the 60s, DC was in the midst of revamping its superheroes (after their original 40s versions had waned in popularity). To explain why the Flash of the 60s was different from the Flash of the 40s, DC introduced the idea of two different, alternate Earths.
Earth-2 was the location of the 40s-era heroes. Earth-1 was where the more modern versions resided.
On Earth-2, Catwoman had frequently battled Batman in their Golden Age days, but she eventually gave up her life of crime and revealed her secret identity to him. Bruce and Selina fell in love and married (sounds almost familiar, no?). They had a daughter and named her Helena Wayne.
In 1977, readers were introduced to Helena Wayne, the adult daughter of Batman and Catwoman. She was optimistic, smart (a graduate of Harvard Law School) and had been raised in a loving home that was free from costumed adventuring (Bruce Wayne of Earth-2 had retired from crimefighting and passed his role as Gotham’s protector to Dick Grayson by then).
But when Helena’s mother died (after an attack by a former henchman), she decided to catch Selina's killer by becoming a costumed hero called Huntress. And she succeeded — the killer confessed to his evil deeds and was brought to justice.
Helena continued to fight crime as the Huntress and eventually gained membership in the Justice Society of America (Earth-2’s powerhouse superhero team). She was frequently portrayed as a crime-fighting partner of Power Girl, the Earth-2 Kryptonian cousin to Earth-2 Superman – a sort of Earth-2 version of the classic "World's Finest" team-up.
When Earth-2 was eliminated during the 1985 event series Crisis on Infinite Earths, along with the Helena Wayne character and the entire DC Multiverse (which had, by that time, expanded), there was only one Earth in the DCU. And by 1989, it had a new version of the Huntress to match its new continuity - but she was no longer the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.
This Huntress retained the original character’s name — Helena — but instead of being a Wayne, she was born into the Bertinelli crime family. She had a tougher attitude than the former Earth-2 Helena, and her sometimes violent tactics often conflicted with Batman’s ideals. She served as a member of the Birds of Prey team, and she frequently interacted with the other Bat-characters.
This character continued as the only Huntress/Helena in the post-Crisis universe until 2006-2007, when the event series Infinite Crisis and 52 brought back the Multiverse and created yet another new version of Huntress. This one was again Batman and Catwoman’s daughter, but she was more withdrawn and jaded. This Huntress had only a few appearances.
For the next few years, there was still a Helena Bertinelli version of Huntress on Earth-1 and the Helena Wayne version on Earth-2 - but things were about to get even more complicated.
Then in 2011, when DC again rebooted its universe for the "New 52" era, another totally new Earth-2 was created where Batman and Catwoman had a child named Helena. But this time, instead of starting her crime-fighting career as an adult, she began as a youth, serving as her father’s Robin.
In the New 52, Helena’s parents were killed during Earth-2’s war with Apokolips, and during the battle, Helena Wayne traveled through a Boom Tube with her friend Supergirl to the main DCU Earth. During much of the New 52, Helena functioned on DC’s main Earth, only returning to her homeworld for a battle that ended with its destruction.
In 2016 DC underwent yet another reboot under the banner "Rebirth." This brought back some aspects of continuity that had been dropped for the "New 52" era, but in turn left some characters and story elements that had not made the jump to the "Rebirth" era in limbo – including the newer Earth-2 Helena Wayne.
Instead Helena Bertinelli remained the sole Huntress appearing on the page, with the "New 52" Earth-2 all but gone entirely.
During the early days of "Rebirth," Helena Bertinelli was a core member of the reformed Birds of Prey led by Barabara Gordon – but she hasn’t been as prevalent in the last few years.
This new development is the first time that Batman and Catwoman from DC’s main universe will give birth to a daughter. The story in the 80th Anniversary issue did not reveal whether she will become the Huntress, although a flash-forward implied she will make it to adulthood.
Will she be hopeful and warm like the original Helena Wayne? Or will she be more brooding, like later versions? Will she be brilliant? Will she fight crime? Will she turn evil? Or be good?
The 80th Anniversary issue may provide some clues:
- The story reveals that Catwoman is a reluctant pregnant mother and risks her baby’s life to continue fighting on the rooftops. And after the baby is born, she continues to trade nights with Bruce so they can both continue their costumed adventures. So in Tom King’s version of Helena’s life, at least, Helena will probably be raised understanding the costumed side of her parents’ lives.
- The story’s flash-forward reveals that Selina believes Helena is "like" Bruce because she finds a "way to make" even bad things "good." That seems to imply this Helena will be a more positive force again.
- In Tom King’s version of the future, Helena loses her father at a fairly young age, although she’s a young adult when she visits Bruce’s grave with her mother by her side.
- There’s a sweet moment at the end, where Catwoman admits that Helena stole her heart. But the implication is that Helena has never stolen anything else in her life.
Of course, if Catwoman and Batman really do end up having a baby girl named Helena - after all, we were fooled into believing that wedding would happen, weren’t we? – there’s no reason the story has to follow the exact future beats laid out in King’s tale.
For now though, readers interested in the upbringing of Helena Wayne will need to check out King’s Batman/Catwoman 12-issue series when it launches later this year.