You can’t know what it felt like. I don’t think anyone can know what that moment felt like.
Watching her swooping down, wearing those wings, the glider wings - the glider wings I helped design, for God’s sake! - that make her look so big and terrifying and powerful. Watching her drop the canister of tear gas, the handful of smoke pellets. The way she cut loose from the wings and dropped onto the scene, like she’d been doing it forever, like she was made for it, like…
Like she was me.
I hated her absolutely in that moment.
”—Barbara Gordon’s reaction to seeing the new Batgirl [Helena] for the first time- Batman No Man’s Land - novel by Greg Rucka
Not your city any longer, she thought. Not after midnight. After midnight, this concrete jungle becomes a truly savage places, and the creatures that walk it will be different beasts entirely. After midnight there’s no Gotham City, only a No Man’s Land.
She touched the cross at her throat, the one part of her costume as the Huntress that carried over into the life of Helena Bertinelli. She said a quick Our Father.
Then she took a deep breath and prepared to go hunting.
Have you read the novelization of NML by Rucka? In your opinion is it worth getting?
Yes, I have, several times. It’s largely told from the supporting cast POV as Batman is hardly in it, and that’s a good thing. I may have enjoyed the novel a tad more than the comic series simply because it’s Greg Rucka’s single voice and interpretation of the events and characters. With so many writers involved in the comic series, I felt a slight but noticeable shift in the depiction of the characters and plot depending on who was handling them.
As a Helena Bertinelli fan, I couldn’t have been more satisfied as she plays a meaty role both as Huntress and Batgirl. Greg Rucka always does a masterful job portraying her strengths, weakness, virtues, and faults. This is no exception. You see him fallen in love with this character. I got a sense that as he’s writing her, he’s already thinking ahead as to what he wants to do with her in the future and where he wants to take her. Of course the next time he wrote her was Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood which is a masterpiece in character study.
There are several scenes in the novel that really stand out. Helena’s brief interactions with Cassandra Cain on two occasions are very memorable and lovely. Cassandra has been told by Oracle to avoid Huntress (Oracle has shown the girl pictures and refers to Huntress as a criminal) but the young girl doesn’t. Instead, she’s drawn to her, and Helena is very kind, warm, and maternal towards Cass. Very different protrayal then how they perceive each other in the comics, and how other writers handle them which I don’t cared for personally.
Oracle’s reaction to seeing Helena don the Batgirl costume for the first time, her wrath and feeling betrayed by Batman was palpable. It lays the fondation that her issues with Helena run deeper and unconsciously than simply being reduced to her violent methods or her intimacy with Dick Grayson. It brought back painful memories for Barbara of who she use to be and what she use to be able to do, and to see someone be as good, be a natural at it, was tough to swallow when she had yet to embrace the chair.
Helena’s involvement with No Man’s Land culminates in her final stand against the Joker. I can read it over and over, and each time I’m no less moved then the time before. I’m really happy that Greg Rucka also wrote that encounter in the comic (Batman #574) instead of someone else. I don’t believe anyone else would have done it the same justice. It will forever be one of Helena’s most memorable moments.
Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Renee Montoya, just to name a few, were also characters that really stood out. It’s a long read (400+ pages), but it’s a wonderful narrative. Yes, it’s absolutely worth getting.
“For Huntress, Being Around Power Girl Was Difficult—Power Girl Was See Through. Her Loss Worn On Her Face For Everyone To See. And Helena Hated It. Hated Being Reminded Of Her Own Pain.”—Power Girl & Huntress in A World Of Their Own - Superman/Batman #78