Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: DC Comics Bombshells #2

The print version of DC Comics Bombshells #2 came out this week and continued to be an interesting look at the female DC heroes placed in the time of World War II. As I said in my review of the last issue, this is a title built on a merchandise line based on 1940's pin-ups. It could have been pure cheesecake. Instead, writer Marguerite Bennett continues to unveil the backgrounds and motivations of these characters in a serious manner. Yes, their outfits and the occasional panel are like Vargas pin-ups. But overall, these are serious proceedings. Good story trumps a lot and Bennett gives us something smart and entertaining.

This issue includes three of the digital chapters so we have separate storylines of Wonder Woman and Mera, Supergirl and Stargirl, and Zatanna and the Joker's Daughter. Each chapter has a different artist. Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, and Ted Naifeh each have a unique style bringing a sense of individual aesthetic. Mooney's in the roughest of the group, sort of a Matthew Dow Smith/Matt Wagner feel that I think works well for the harsh Soviet backdrop his chapter is set in.

I also like the cover with a 'Join the Waves' tagline while we see dolphins carry Diana and Mera. The Waves, of course, were the women divisions of the naval reserve in the 40's. Perfect use of the tagline there!

On Paradise Island, Diana is nursing Steve Trevor back to health. He is a bit addled from his battle experience but he is able to tell her all about the war. He discusses Germany's expansion and atrocities and the resulting conflict.

Realizing that eventually Germany could look to Paradise Island, Diana asks her mother to have the Amazons join the war.

I like how Diana describes the weapons of man. Honeycombs that fire wasps of metal (belt fed Gatling gun?), tortoises crushing forests (tanks?), and the Nazi swastika described as a nest of thorns. I liked how she related the weapons to forces of nature.

Unfortunately, Hippolyta doesn't think the Amazons should be involved. And given that it is Trevor's words that are swaying Diana, the queen tells the Amazons to kill Steve at dawn.

Diana can't abide by that. She plans to free Steve, take the Amazons magic weapons, and join the war. And to do all that, she needs help. She enlists Mera to help out.

Mera seems like she is looking for something worthwhile to do. She is not in line for the throne. She is not doing anything important. She will join in whatever adventure Diana wants to lead her into, especially if it promotes good.

That is a pretty deep backstory for Mera who, at times, has been written more one-dimensional.

I really loved this scene. Diana goes to steal the tiara, bracelets, and magic lasso to use against Germany.

Initially Hippolyta's sentries defend them. But then they realize that Diana's tenacity, belief in justice, and willingness to sacrifice herself are all admirable. They are the true Amazonian tenets. They let her take the weapons.

Mera, Diana, and Steve all speed away from Paradise Alley to enter the war.

But I don't think this is going to be an easy transition for either Diana or Mera.

Meanwhile in Russia, Kara has revealed her powers in order to rescue Kortni. Unfortunately, the Russian higher-ups are immediately suspicious. Is she a spy? Or an Uberfrau? (Nice reference to another variant of Supergirl.)

When Kortni is threatened, Kara allows herself to be taken.

This shows that Kara's heart is in the right place.

At a military headquarters, Kara tells her origin. Kortni was born on the night of a 'falling star'.

That falling star was Kara's starship. She was brought into Kortni's family. Raised as a daughter. Taught to love her land.

I love this take on the art. It looks like wood carvings. Or maybe a children's fairy tale book. Just beautiful.

At least her, the military higher-ups realize that Kara is a daughter of the state and loyal.

When asked to show her powers, Kara destroys the lights and makes a tapestry at high speed of her vision of her and Kortni. Supergirl and Stargirl. Working for the Soviets. It is a bit secular and sexy for a Soviet state. But that is her vision and given her powers it will probably happen. (Although we haven't heard about the cosmic rod yet. Is this already a thing?).

Would a daughter of the state, living in those dorms, wearing uniforms, dream of something so provocative?

I have to say I like it in red more than the blue.

Stargirl being Soviet right now, with that star, reminds me of Marvel's Red Guardian.

The last episode shows Zatanna being a singer/burlesque dancer in a German show house. Her boss is The Joker's Daughter, who is just scary.

But while dancing, Zatanna realizes that one of the customers is John Constantine, an English spy there undercover as a nazi.

The two get into an outright magic battle in the dance hall.

In the end, Zatanna wins, turning John into a rabbit.

And yet, you get the sense that Zatanna doesn't want to truly hurt John. She doesn't turn him over to the other Nazi officers. She doesn't snap his neck.

Maybe she wants him to be alive, to maybe help her at some point.

That thought gained some momentum when we learn that Zatanna is Jewish, saved from the ghettos because she is so talented.

This is a really interesting wrinkle to Zatanna's arc.

So overall, a lot of compelling stuff in book. We are basically moving towards them being an all-female All Star Squadron. I am all for it.

And luckily, the Supergirl stuff is solid. I like Kara's no nonsense attitude there.

Is it okay for me to admit I am surprised at how good this book is?

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review as always, Anj. And yeah, as retro / cheesecake as it is,
definately get the sense that a) the writers/artists love the characters, and
b) they're telling interesting stories. I'm also amused by the Supergirl / Stargirl
pairing -- keep thinking back to the start of New 52 of the specific description
of 'bullheaded loner' versus 'All-American Sweetheart.' Seems that idea's in the bin
now :)

Between this and the "long haul" comment of Justice League 3001, PLEASE tell me
TPTB will keep Supergirl in these titles. Until they see fit to put our favorite
superheroine back into her own montly title, it's the only way us fans can get our
monthly Supergirl fix.


Jude Deluca said...

I really wish they hadn't used the Joker's Daughter, or at the very least, I wished they'd based the Bombshell version off the actual Duela Dent instead of that cheap knockoff they've got running around in the DCnU.

AndNowInStereo said...

The Supergirl costume in the statue line doesn't really work for me in its own right, but it REALLY doesn't work for me in the context of this story. I like the Soviet Union backstory for Supergirl and Stargirl but I can't fit that idea together in my head with that costume. I'm not saying it should be ultra-utilitarian to be Russian, but it feels like it's just too cheesecakey to work with this story. I really wish they'd change it.

Also, why is it DC only makes books centred around large numbers of female characters as tie-ins to lines of statues? Or toys, in the case of DC Super Hero Girls. There's an interesting meta-message there. It kind of stands out even more as that DC isn't publishing a Birds of Prey book right now. Marvel is keeping A-Force around once the Secret Wars event is over, DC should have a competitor to that in their mainstream universe.

Anonymous said...

All the things Supergirl can do when the lights go out (like maybe disarm Kortni's kaptors) and she chooses to weave a tapestry at super speed?
Am I the only one scratching his head about that?


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

I am glad that the JLU pair of Stargirl and Supergirl are back together. It is an interesting pair especially with Supergirl acting more like the big sister.

And I agree Thomas that the costume is a bit flashy for Russia's at that time.

I haven't thought that about Duela Dent in forever!

And yes, the tapestry as a show of power is odd. But they need to introduce the visual of the costume I suppose.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the review, without it I'd not have noticed that I'd forgotten to read the Mera chapter, which turns out to be my favourite of a good bunch. I love this version of Mera as a super-composed, wry water witch, and seeing Diana in a kind-of-coronation by her bodyguards was wonderful.

Is that meant to be Hitler in the Zee and Ugh, Not Her chapter? He looks like a Seventies disco fan, with that tache.

'Paradise Alley'? Sports mad, you are!

Timothy S. Brannan said...


Going to talk about the Zatanna material this weekend myself.
Giving you a link back.