Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: DC Bombshells #5

DC Comics Bombshells #5 came out last week and continued to impress. Writer Marguerite Bennett has the difficult task of reinventing the characters we as readers no so well, putting them into the WWII world while maintaining some sense of familiarity. Perhaps what impresses me the most with Bennett's efforts, especially in this issue, is how she is now reaching beyond the main characters and introducing other characters from the DCU.

I also am impressed that we really are running really disparate plotlines right now. These are the origins of these characters. And while some are now interacting with others, we are far away from a 'team book'. Characters are in different countries, serving different regimes. You get the sense that the circle is closing. But scope of this book is pretty impressive.

The art on the book also continues to shine. Here, Ming Doyle supplies the pages for the Batwoman/Catwoman/Joker's Daughter pages. This chapter is steeped in dark magic which suits Doyle's style nicely. The Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy pages are a bit sillier and much more suited for the cheesecake, somewhat cartoony style of Mirka Andolfo. And Bilquis Evely continues to bring a sort of scratchy realism to the Supergirl/Stargirl pages. This book just looks good.

The book starts with Batwoman's secret mission, deep into Germany, where she is to meet with the Contessa diGati, better known to us as Catwoman. After seeing Kate supremely confident in the early chapters, I like that Bennett humanizes her by making her sound a bit more cautious. This isn't the mean streets of the city. She isn't wielding a baseball bat. She is trussed up in a ball gown, heading to a Nazi soiree, trying to work with Selina.

As I said earlier, Bennett is reaching out a bit into the DCU. Here we see that Kate is picked up by Lex Luthor, an American industrialist who just might be working with the Germans. Still, Luthor is an American. Selina is in Germany, throwing parties for the Reich, and known to work with the black market. Lex tells Batwoman not to trust Selina.

But can you trust Lex?

Kate is brought to a soiree thrown by Selina. It is a high brow bash with high ranking German officials. Given the relationship with Amanda Waller, the assumption is Selina is on the right side of the war here. Going this undercover must be difficult.

But Selina has always been morally ambiguous making Luthor's warning apt.

I do love that Selina warns Kat about Luthor. Lex is trying to keep America out of the war and his rivals seem prone to dying.

Who can Kate trust here?

As if that wasn't unsettling enough, Kate is then brought to a makeshift altar in the place where Joker's Daughter sings a spell, resurrecting a fallen German soldier into something demonic. It is clear that she has been tainted somehow, her arm now inky and deformed.

It is interesting how singing is such a big part of this book. Mera sings her water control. Joker's Daughter sings her possession spells.

It is clear we aren't in Gotham anymore. This is insanity.

Now the one character I am having to wrap my head around a bit is the Harley one. There is a fair amount of gravitas to this book given the backdrop of the war. There is humor here, but subtle and well timed.

Harley almost feels like the comic relief of this book. She is a sort of wild lunatic here, again singing her way through adventures.

Here, she rides a bomb like Dr. Strangelove into a greenhouse. Somehow she survives and meets the owner of the place, Poison Ivy. Harley is immediately smitten with Ivy. Ivy works for Selina as a smuggler. But she has also used her feminine wiles and some special perfumes to lure the German occupant troops and presumably castrate them.

Harley tries to convince Ivy to join her. She wants the two to head into Berlin and fight more Nazis. The decision is sort of forced when German soldiers invade Ivy's house. Harley and Ivy fight back, blow up the house and head on their way to the front.

Again, this is the cheesecake-iest of the storylines. We see a lot of Harley here. I'm not against it necessarily. The wackiness of the story works well with her appearance. It just feels a little out of place next to the other characters' arcs.

We then cut back to the Supergirl/Stargirl storyline.

These two have realized they are being used by an unscrupulous administration. They decide to turn their back on the communist government and head off to rescue their parents.

I really love the characterization here as the two, who had been good soldiers for the cause have had to deal with this revelation. I also love how Kara, who had previously sounded bold and invulnerable, realizes her actions have led to the pain of others. It is a humbling experience. And it is one she wants to rectify.

General Arkayn has invaded the village and is holding Kara's parents at gunpoint. Even Supergirl isn't fast enough to save everyone. Kara has a choice, surrender and be experimented on or be responsible for a massacre.

Just when all seems lost ...

A giant Swamp Thing comes tearing through the house, battering the soldiers and allowing Kara to grab her parents.

Now this came out of nowhere. While I knew General Arkayn was a name drop for Anton Arcane, a known Swamp Thing villain, I didn't expect we'd see the big green guy. Whenever I am surprised in a comic I am happy.

Kortni had prayed to the forest spirits her mother used to. This mix of science and superstition in this family is fascinating.

But before everyone can be whisked to safety, the girls' father is captured again. He tells Supergirl to fly on without him.  Remember, in this continuity, he invented the cosmic rod. I have to imagine we will see something more out of him before this is all over.

I really love this particular arc. Yes, I am partial to Supergirl. But there are serious character beats here as these two have to deal with loyalty, distrust, science, and mysticism.

So overall, this book continues to keep me engaged and entertained. And I can't really ask for more. It is a delight to read and the individual art styles are well-suited for the particular runs. I keep hoping we will eventually see all these heroes together in one League-like team.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Oops. I seem to have missed reading an issue of my digital subscription. so the Swamp Thing bit is new to me - how great!

My favourite moments are the Mera ones, so it's a shame she's not in this one. I don't mind her singing as much as the others, it's kinda mermaidy.

Anonymous said...

This book is meshugginah and I am still reading it gets a little more incoherent every issue and yet I buy it all the same.



Anj said...

It's too much fun!

Anonymous said...

This was good.

My favorite part is, unsurprisingly, the Supergirl and Stargirl's storyline. I'm not so invested in the Bat-Family.