In the 1989 Huntress limited series, Helena Rosa Bertinelli, who was born into one of Gotham City's most prominent Mafia families, is a withdrawn girl. At the age of six, she was kidnapped and raped by an agent of another Gotham crime family. Her parents, Guido and Carmela, send her to boarding school and assigned a bodyguard for her protection. Helena hides her fear and shame until the age of 19. After she witnesses the mob-ordered murder of her entire family at a wedding, she crusades to put an end to the crime families. She travels, accompanied and trained by her bodyguard Sal, before returning to Gotham to make her debut as the Huntress. This origin story is heavily revised in the 2000 limited series Huntress: Cry for Blood.
Batman rarely accepts the Huntress, believing her to be too unpredictable and violent. Others in the Batman family feel differently; for instance, Tim Drake has a good relationship with her. Early in his career, he worked with the female vigilante, and later clears her name in a murder case. Batman sponsors Huntress' membership in the Justice League, and for some time, Huntress is a respected member of the League. Under the guidance of heroes such as Superman, Helena grows in confidence but is forced to resign after Batman stops her from killing the villain Prometheus.