If you read my article a couple of weeks ago, you might remember that I’m a former comic book girl looking to get back into the genre after a kid-induced hiatus. The prospect of finding new books to read has been daunting since most of what I enjoyed back in the day is done and taking the chance on new stuff is nerve-wracking since my time is limited (again: kids). Imagine my surprise then when I was browsing through the comic book section at a nearby bookstore and happened upon one of DC Comics’ newest titles, DC Bombshells, an alternate universe version of DC superheroes reimagined as women.
The book is set in World War II era America and then expands into the war theatres in Europe, including England, France, Russia, and Germany. The Bombshells are a group of superheroes organized by Commander Amanda Waller, starting with Batwoman (Kate Kane) and expanding to include Wonder Woman, Stargirl, Supergirl, Aquawoman, and more. The story reimagines the origin stories for the majority of the characters, except for Wonder Woman, who retains her original story along with Steve Trevor. The DC Bombshells story includes not only the superheroines, but the villains of the DC universe, including Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy and even a female version of the Joker. The characters included are iconic and the setting of World War II reminds us all of the beginnings of these characters that we are all familiar with and love.
Of course, the first thing that caught my eye with this collection of the series’ first six issues, entitled Enlisted, was the cover art, a Rosie the Riveter version of Wonder Woman. The style evokes World War II era pin-ups, which sucked me in immediately, as I am a fan of that type of art. The covers were all done by artist Ant Lucia and his artwork is not only available as covers for the series, but also as statue versions of the Bombshells. The interior artwork is done by a variety of artists, but the cover art sucked me in immediately. I’m already looking for posters for my office.
Marguerite Bennett’s scripts set up the origin stories without treating the reader like a total newbie; she assumes that you are familiar with these characters to some extent, though I did learn that nearly every character introduced is someone from the DC Universe and not a new character. I had to do a ton of Googling to discover who each character was, but that may speak more to my unfamiliarity with the DC Universe as a whole rather than a problem with Bennett’s writing. The way that Bennett creates these new versions of the characters retains much of what we love about them, but also gives them her own touches. Kate Kane, Batwoman, is involved with Maggie Sinclair; the two are clearly in a long-term relationship and, rather than make a big to-do of the extraordinary relationship of such a pairing during this era, she introduces them as she would any other relationship, committed and established. Catwoman is part of European high society and something she discovered during her marriage led her to be on the side of the Allies, which might seem antithetical to the Catwoman we know. Overall, the new versions of these classic characters sucked me in and made me ready to look for a subscription.
I did find the plethora of characters introduced in the first six issues collected here to be overwhelming. Because I am not as well-versed in the peripheral characters of the DC Universe, I didn’t immediately recognize many of the characters. That made me wonder how much I was missing in terms of meaning within the story. Because DC Bombshells is an ongoing series rather than a limited one, perhaps Bennett could have taken a little more time introducing these characters to give the readers a chance to take in all of the names and their place within the universe she’s creating.
Additionally, these first few issues had eleven (!) different artists working on these six issues. This mean that more than one artist would work on a given issue. The characters didn’t change, of course, but the constant change in style was distracting. The colors and inks were rich and worthy of a modern, mainstream book, but the shift in styles drew more attention to the art and not in a good way. I understand using a name artist for the first few issues in order to establish an audience and then switching after the first storyarc is completed, but this way of doing things was definitely a downer for me. I realize that the cover artist often won’t do the interiors, but it would have been nice to have had an artist with a similar style throughout these first few issues – or, at least, the same artist for the first six issues.
Overall, despite the plethora of characters and the shifting art styles, I am so excited about DC Bombshells that I may be going to one of my local comic book stores and starting a subscription. I may even go hunting for the individual issues and their alternate covers, which means I’ve finally found my first new book since deciding to get back into the comics game. Brava, Bombshells! Thanks, DC, for sucking me back in!
Rating: 4 SHIELDS