When Paul Levitz wrote the Huntress mini series in 2011, he had decades of writing experience plus the audience allowed for more mature themes
When he first started writing Huntress
The Forward To the Helena Wayne Huntress Trade:
Introduction by Paul Levitz
How about two introductions instead of one?
First, the contextual one:
In the seventies, comic fans turned professional had become, for the first time’ the dominant force in steering the destinies of their favorite characters. Ar DC Comics, that resulted in a lot of stories that experimented with continuity and the “Muitiverse” of worlds built up by that time: Earth-1 (where the heroes of the Silver Age had their adventures), Earth-2 (the Golden Age DC heroes), Earth-3 (where the super-villains ruled), Earth-S (with Captain Marvel and the Fawoett characrers), Eorth-X (the Quality heroes) and even Earth-Prime (where heroes such as Julie Schwartz who along with Gardner Fox started this whole madness). Many of these stories were amazing explorations of alternate histories, opening up the imaginations of later generations to such an extent that in recent years Scientific America had a cover pay homage to the way the Schwartz titles depicted multiple Earths, and a horde of science fiction writers have made alternate history almost a separate genre. (many were, to be kind, a wee bit more self-indulgent.)
The storles in this book came about when DC relaunched All-Star Comic, the traditional home of the Justice Society, the orginal Super-Team from tne 1940s. Gerry Conway instigated wrote and edited the relaunch but left after a few issues to briefly become editor in chief of Marvel. He left behind a style for the book, a cast of characters and a young assistant editor passionate about the JSA, would try to fill his more experienced shoes. The young man would take over as writer (with experienced vet Joe Orlando as editor), and proceeds to add still more charocrers to the series, largely because they were parts of the DC Golden Age mythology that he loved, ond wanted to share with the readers.
Within a year, the young writer was joined by two young artists who would both go on fo have long and accomplished careers in the field. Joe Staton as penciler and Bob Layton as inker. Both were interested in the characters and prone to offer their own story suggesions as well. Layton argued for an Eath-2 Batgirl, Staton supported adding another woman to the team. Longtime colorist and then proofreader Anihony Tollin nudged the writer at a party and somehow the Hunress emerged. Sraton added a sketch of the visual, and off she went into action,
The stories in this volume were written over the four years that followed. After making a cameo in AIl Star Comics #69. Her origin was featured in DC Super Stars i#17. and then the other short stories were serialized first in an anthology entitled Batman Family (don’t ask) and then as backups in Wonder Woman. The character gained a following and sustained her momentum inro the mid-1980s, when Crisis on Infinite Earths mode her origin impossible as the Multiverse collapsed and her then-series writer Joey Calvalieri shifted her to being a crime lord’s daughter instead.
Now, the personal one
When you read these stories. please remember that I began writing them when I was 20. Joe Orlando taught me many things over our years of friendship but the wisest was that readers can sense a storyteller’s sincerity (or lack of) and forgive many sins of craft on a sincere work. That certainly seemed to be true three decades ago when these stories came out. I had much more sincerity than craft, yet people seemed to enjoy the work, The Huntress became my most lasting contribution fo the DC Universe, and remains a favored child. I write these words with Joe Staton’s painting of her staring down at me (a house warming gift for my first solo apartment, long ago), and the page of Helena swearing her oath still hangs on the wall opposite
I’ve learned many things in the decades since I wish I knew when I wrote these stories: craft skills of writing, knowledge of human behavior, understanding of how men and women differ ( I simplified my approach in those early days by assuming that being a superhero was so much different from ordinary humanity than the mere differences that gender offered), and more. And I even had a daughter of my own,’ whose now is grown and gone to work for a real-world group that advocates in the public interest. But I also learned that Joe was right about sincerity and its importance and I hope you still can feel that youthful passion as you read these stones.
Paul Levitz was DC’s youngest editor and contributed to the company as a writer, editor, and, ultimately, as its president and publisher