Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: DC Bombshells #23

I've been collecting Marguerite Bennett's DC Comics Bombshells from the beginning and, for the most part, I have loved it. As I have said before, this is a comic based on cheesecake statues. I wasn't expecting much. But what we have been given is an engaging war story. The initial arcs, told in the style of film genres of the time was particularly brilliant. And, no surprise, it was the portrayal of Supergirl and Wonder Woman I found most intriguing.

It all came to a head when the Bombshells finally gathered together to fight a demon battering London. Stargirl sacrificed herself to bring about victory. That issue was so powerful that a Supergirl moment landed at #2 of my Top Ten Supergirl moments of 2016.

But with that victory over, at least for me, the book sort of lost its way. Suddenly it was all about Batwoman and Catwoman. We were away from the front and on side missions. Supergirl and Wonder Woman weren't in the book at all. And there was a subtle feeling that the book made the switch from a character driven book with an underlying agenda to an agenda driven book that has some characters in it. Those books usually don't succeed with me.

It felt like I was collecting the book out of habit, reluctantly. Never a good sign for longevity.

Bombshells #23 came out this week and finally brought back Supergirl and Wonder Woman. Their chapter was a deep dive into their characters, looking at how each looks at grief. It is drawn with some grit and some grandeur about Matias Bergara. And suddenly it felt like I was reading 'my' Bombshells book again. Thankfully.

The cover is a fun look at Diana and Kara relaxing on a beach. The omnipresent 'Keep Calm and Carry On' is emblazoned in the corner. It is a beautiful image by Marguerite Sauvage. But it hardly mirrors the tone of the book.

We start on the island of Cocytus where Diana, Kara, and Steve Trevor are recovering from the horrors of war. Kara in particular is despondent over what has happened.

She was going to sacrifice herself in that battle but Kortni took her place.

Throughout that opening arc you could see some sense of inner sadness in Kara. Despite her brash personality, we saw her open and wonder if she should still be alive. Did she deserve the love of her Earth family.

When Kortney died, a part of her died. She thinks maybe the best part.

I was glad to get this recap happened. This moment happened in print in Bombshells #12, way back in May 2016. We have had nearly a year without Supergirl and Wonder Woman.

Bergara does a very good job showing us what the physical toll of mourning has done to Supergirl. Her hair is unkempt. She has bags under her eyes. Her physical stance is one of exhaustion.

She says that she simply doesn't know how to grieve. She doesn't know how she can ever get over Kortni not coming back. She is alien and this is new ground.

I think all too often in comics a character will die and we won't see this sort of response. The next issue has everyone acting normally. So I thought this was a good story to tell.

Diana discusses the different approaches people take to grieving. What do people believe happens after a person dies?

One belief is that the universe is a melodic machine. The death of someone resonates like a note, but the machine acknowledges and moves on. Each person is part of the great symphony of life.

Others believe that after death you go to an idyllic place, where nature rules and all is bliss.

A third is that you go to a place of darkness, a place without feeling, a place where each person can think 'did I do good'.

This is a story about grieving and moving on. I am glad Bennett didn't show one afterlife. Not everyone believes the same thing. Instead, Diana shows Kara that there are variations on a theme but all focus on whether or not someone did something with their lives. 

But with all grieving, there comes a time people need to move on. Kara can remember that Kortni mattered. She can grieve. But that can't be all Supergirl can do.

Diana will be there for her friend in life. Supergirl can only do the best she can when dealing with these emotions.

I always wondered why in the main DCU, Diana and Kara weren't better friends. I suppose in the Loeb/Turner world Diana trained Kara. But there was no mentorship or overt friendship. I like that fact that we see some of that here. Diana is supporting Kara. This was a nice moment.

And Diana doesn't sugar coat it.

Grief hurts. It may always hurt. But the hurt will not always be the same. Life moves on and so grief will change.

I wonder how Diana knows so much. Are the Amazons in Bombshells immortal? How does Diana know so much about grief? Or is it just wisdom?

This whole story was narrated by Diana.

Finally, at the end, we hear Supergirl's voice.

Maybe it is time to move on. Maybe it is time to fly.

As I said above, this felt much more like the earlier issues of the book. It was a much needed breather for me after weeks of stone animals fighting. This packed some emotional punch and was well written.

And yes, it didn't hurt that it was a Kara/Diana story.

Later we see that Diana realizes it is time to rejoin the fight. We saw last issue that she arrived in Zambesi to fight the Baroness.

That means Kara and Steve Trevor will get on a boat and work their way back home. A Supergirl/Steve Trevor adventure? Now that feels very fresh! I wonder where that will go.

Overall grade (Diana/Kara story): B+


Anonymous said...

I thought this was a great story with wonderful art. Poor Kara was so heart-broken, but she finally found the will to pull herself together.

I also think Kara and Diana should have a relationship stronger than it is usually depicted as in comics. Supergirl is the world's most powerful female metahuman. Shouldn't Diana think such a young and powerful woman could benefit from her guidance and from training she could provide? Loeb's "The Supergirl from Krypton" has a lot of issues, but Wonder Woman wanting to protect her and train her makes sense.

I remember Kara became an Amazon during the ninth issue of her first solo book. Queen Hyppolita told she loved her as one of her daughters. A pity that story's possible ramifications were ignored.

In "Elseworld's Finest" Diana became Kara's adoptive mother. God, that parallel universe was filled with potential.

Their Post-Flashpoint relationship is barely there. They've met a few of times, and their first meeting was a battle because Kara was being a villain's dupe.

DC Rebirth will fix that? We'll see. Maybe the comics will try to ape the DC Super Hero girls universe in where they are close friends?

Anonymous said...

This book is completely meshugginah....very inexplicably proud of itself given the incoherence of the storyline (even down to the layout of the individual panels). I read it out of loyalty to Kara so of course she has been "off panel" for seemingly a year while every other female jobber in the DCU makes a dazzling debut....Literally I'm waiting for Ma Hunkle and the JSA to role up its bound to happen.

This is a great idea for a book (a counterfactual WW2 in a female-centric universe) but the execution has been entirely whimsical and ubiquitous hard to read harder to like impossible to recommend.
Hope that changes and if it doesn't don't snuff Supergirl for cheap heat is all I ask.


Anonymous said...

It's a hard book to keep reading. There are far too many characters and the plot is sometimes absurd. However, it is good fun at times and keeps my interest.