Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #30

DC Bombshells #30 came out in print this week and was the next chapter in the final arc for this title. And, incredibly, I think it is the final arc for me with these characters. This title has been on shaky ground for the last several months and this issue cinched it. I think this title has sort of lost its way.

The first year of this book was such a delight, introducing us to these characters, riffing on the film styles of the day, and bringing in the politics of the day. The zenith was in DC Bombshells #12, in a battle over London, where Stargirl sacrifices herself. I applauded this book then.

Since then, the stories have been a bit all over the map. Writer Marguerite Bennett began to use the book as a vehicle for an agenda. And as I have said, if you have a character driven book with an agenda, I am on board. When you have an agenda book with characters, it often falls apart. I also think that Bennett has started to be a bit too cute and a bit too glib in a way that seems wrong for the book.

The art, done by the excellent talents of Carmen Carnero, Richard Ortiz, and Aneke, continues to shine.

This was a war book. And even though war is there, it isn't that any more. This book hasn't crackled for me like it did early on. And it is something of a shame because the Supergirl story is actually the high point for the current story. But when this volume ends, I think I am out.

On to the book.

 Last issue, Supergirl, still grieving over the death of her sister, met Power Girl. Kara has been dealing with fluctuating powers, all based on her coping mechanisms with sadness. And after an initial melee, Supergirl and Power Girl come to a reconciliation. In fact, Kara inspires Power Girl.

It also seems to be a bit of a cathartic moment for Supergirl. In fact, we finally see her enjoying life a bit, taking in a circus show. Dr. October lays out everything that Supergirl has gone through over the last several months. If anyone deserves to take a breath and relax, it is Kara.

I actually don't mind seeing Supergirl having to work through despair and uncertainty. We've seen it before in Peter David's story, in Sterling Gates' run, and even in the Red Daughter arc by Tony Bedard. But it only works if we see her come through it and become a hero.

Meanwhile, part of the them here is the rhythm of a metronome, played on the city loudspeakers at times to remind people that they have a heartbeat, they still live, they are still fighting.

I think this reminder of life, that the fight isn't over, is important for Supergirl. And that sort of settling ticking is probably a reassuring thing for someone reeling a bit like Kara.

With the show over, Kara reveals that she had the K-knife from Lex Luthor. She wonders why he gave it to her. But Kara feels that perhaps Lex knew that Power Girl would remind Supergirl of her sister. Remember, this grief for Kortni has been the major moment for this Supergirl. Dealing with this grief, overcoming it, is key.

But it is a little weird that she will imprint Kortni on to her clone.

I don't know if I like Superman being played as a mute, almost naive, child in a man's body. But this is Bombshells. He can't be the straw that serves the drink.

Power Girl was 'raised' by Hugo Strange and trained to be a weapon. She attacked Supergirl immediately. And yet, despite that, Kara didn't wield the Kryptonite against her clone. Power Girl wonders why.

Here we see just how caring Supergirl is. She knew that fighting isn't always the answer. They just needed to understand each other.

My Supergirl is optimistic. She sees the best in people. She wants to help. But she'll fight fiercely when she has to. This notion of hoping to reconcile matters before fighting works.

 But the time for contemplation and uncertainty is over. Killer Frost has brought her army to Leningrad. (Nice homage to the 'workers in front of Kirovsky plant' famous photo here.)

Supergirl has to steel herself and prepare to fight.

As I said, I don't mind Supergirl pausing to figure things out. But she needs to act. She needs to be a hero. I hope she turns it around.

Because she'll need to.

The ultimate villain, Faora Hu-Ul is about to reveal herself.

Now I know what you're thinking. Why are you dropping this book Anj? You've just written a pretty good review of the Supergirl storyline.

Well, unfortunately it is just about everything else that just doesn't seem to work. Harley Quinn making a Christian Bale joke. John Constantine becoming a Hare-blazer. It is all too hip for me. It feels like a 'look how cool I am, I can flaunt comic convention' moments. It reminded me of the same sort of cheeky, 'break the 4th wall', "let's concentrate on plot C" dialogue, kind of stuff I read in Bennett's Josie and the Pussycats. It just doesn't work for me in this book with this plot. Quinn making a Christian Bale reference in the 1940s isn't funny to me. It is cringe-worthy.

And yes, this might be my 'old man shakes his fist at cloud' moment. But if this book isn't written for my sensibilities, I guess I am out.

It's a shame. Because the Supergirl stuff is solid.

Overall grade: C- (Supergirl stuff A)


Anonymous said...

I agree completely. This book has lost its way. A shame.

The Supergirl's parts are good... but the rest of it is dumb, heavy-handed or ridiculous. I also think a Christian Bale joke is so out-of-place and stupid.

And as amusing as the thought of Superman being literally a differently endowed Supergirl, this Superman is too much childlike.

I've read the next digital issues and I cannot say I'm impressed. The plot gets weirder, more incomprehensible and innecessarily more convoluted.

I only care for this book because of Supergirl. Since she isn't even mentioned in the latest solicits, there's no reason left to hang on to this series. I have no interest to see how Donna and Cassie are gutted in order to further an agenda.

Martin Gray said...

Sorry the shine has come off, Anj, but there could be a silver lining... do we get to vote on a new book for you to cover?

Given I dived off a good while back, mind if I ask what the agenda Bennett is pursuing is?

garyb said...

Story lines are weird, disjointed, and so long between the different arcs that I get lost.

Maybe Bombshells II will be better?

Meanwhile, this cover is in the running for worst cover of the year.

Anonymous said...

yeah drop it I say....this book had a lot of potential all of it squandered completely. Obscure dialogue, disjointed action, too many characters...its a book thats inexplicably proud of itself...a mess in short.
A "Golden Age Supergirl" is a concept (frog "Kara in the 1940's) worth exploring, but by other creatives I think.