Review: DC Comics Bombshells Vol. 1: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett

Monday, October 3, 2016
Title: DC Comics Bombshells Vol. 1: Enlisted
Author: Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: DC Comics Bombshells #1-6
Pages: 144
Published: March 2nd, 2016
Source: Borrowed Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The incredibly popular DC Collectibles line is brought to life in these stories that reimagine the course of history!

As Word War II rages across Europe, the Allied forces issue a call to arms for the greatest heroines the world has ever known: THE BOMBSHELLS!

KATE KANE, the all-American Batwoman; DIANA OF THEMYSCIRA, warrior Princess of the Amazons; KARA STARIKOV and KORTNI DUGINOVNA, defenders of Mother Russia; and MERA, royal daughter of the legendary Atlantis! With aid from their allies at home and abroad, these mighty women will turn the tide of war and defend those inviolable rights of Truth, Justice and Freedom.

From writer Marguerite Bennett (BATGIRL, EARTH 2: WORLD’S END) and featuring artists including Marguerite Sauvage (HINTERKIND), Laura Braga (Witchblade), Bilquis Evely (Doc Savage), Mirka Andolfo (Chaos) and Ming Doyle (CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER) comes DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS VOL. 1: ENLISTED. Collects DC COMICS: BOMBSHELLS #1-6.

Bombshells tells the story of an AU/alt history where Amanda Waller puts together an all-female team of superheroes to bring down Nazis in 1940. It's a good premise and naturally lends itself to the pin-up style it was inspired by. Mostly, the women are gorgeous. I'm currently painting Diana of Themyscira on the side of my bomber and then running away with Batgirl. Sauvage's work as a colorist is phenomenal, particularly in issue 1. The generally muted palette gives the story a gloriously retro vibe while letting the heroine's bold costumes pop off the page. I have some quibbles with her art, (Kara and Kortni are one hundred percent identical,) but I generally feel the pages she's involved in are the best.

I cannot say the same for whoever drew issue four. Supergirl and Stargirl are an absolute mess. Block faces, weird poses, and disembodied torsos aside, I am appalled at how stiff and lacking in movement their flight is. I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of the ugliest panels I have seen in a modern comic. 

The rest of the artists fall somewhere in the middle with Kate's later scenes drawn in a very gritty, 90s style that doesn't particularly jibe with the pin-up concept and Harley and Ivy's being overly cartoony. I'm also going to call out Kate's artist on continuity errors as her dress switches from red to black back to red.

So the art is generally good, but what about the plot? Well...well.

This trade would have been so much better with a tighter focus on Amanda finding and recruiting her bombshells. Harley and Ivy are always fun to see, yes, but they added nothing to the over all plot. Likewise Zatanna, Constantine, the Joker's Daughter, and the zombies probably should have been held off until book 2. I wanted a chance to see and understand the core cast, but I couldn't. Too much of the book was made up of names and cameos. "Oh, in the main timeline, she's Bluebird!" "Oh my gosh, of course Lex Luthor would show up." Sure it was cool, but everything needed to slow way down. Take some time for Kara and Kortni to be in the Night Witches before revealing Kara as Supergirl. And did Kortni have the staff to make her Stargirl already? Or did the soviets give it to her? A huge chunk of their story is missing from #1 to #4, and then again when they defect and join the Bombshells in #6. The only storyline I felt anything from was Wonder Woman.

I like Bombshells a lot, but I don't think it has its feet under it just yet. This is a book that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. With strong female characters and great (implicit) LGBT rep. With (mostly) beautiful art and fun action scenes. I just wish it had a beefier plot.

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