Storytelling Old School Style – “Bombshells #1” (Review)

Aug 16, 2015

Mad Cave Studios


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bombshells #1 coverBombshells #1

Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Art: Marguerite Sauvage

Let me start off by saying that I really like the format of DC’s new throwback title, Bombshells. Three stories centered on alternative takes on some of DC’s brightest female heroes. It’s a good format because I am not certain that I would be interested in each of these characters having their own, full-length stories set back in the 1940’s. Not because they are women, but because I am hit or miss when it comes to period pieces in comics. I can definitely say that World War II only marginally catches my interest, so I am on-board with keeping these stories short and with this 3-point variation. And, if you want, they are offered as stand-alone shorts in digital form, at least.

The setup is a globe-trotting plotline that sees Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Supergirl cast in various revisionist roles. Batwoman is employed as a substitute baseball player in Gotham as all of the men have gone off to war. Wonder Woman is the story most aligned to her classical take, encountering one Steve Trevor as his squadron encounters German resistance in the skies over Themyscira. Supergirl is recast as a member of the Soviet Air Force with a big, big secret.

The scripting here is warm and genuine. However, I struggled a bit as I felt like the story quality trailed off slightly from Batwoman’s tale through Supergirl’s at the end. What I liked about the Batwoman tale is that it mixes elements of 1940’s sexism with progressive concepts like Kate Kane being involved in a clear lesbian relationship with Detective Maggie Sawyer. I really loved that contrast and the thought of something that must have appeared as very daring set in such an anachronistic time. Bonus for Amanda Waller showing up at the end of the story and not being drawn as a svelte but busty bombshell. From there, Bennett takes us to the island of the Amazons, who are a bit more aggressive at protecting their borders than previous versions have sometimes been rendered. They wind up slaughtering both American and German pilots in their effort to clear the airspace over their beloved land. Supergirl’s story, which arguably might be the most interesting to some readers, as it is cast in a setting similar to the premise of Superman:  Red Son. Daring, but a bit iffy, as part of me felt like this was territory being re-tread, especially as they kind of went the Soviet route in Convergence just recently. It was tough for me to get a handle on who exactly this new Kara character is supposed to be. Overall, I started the book on a high based on the story, and then softened on how excited I was as the book went on.

bombshells panels

Sauvage’s art wanes in a similar manner. I really love Kane’s red hair and the color effects in the first story. The scenes with Kane and Sawyer are wonderfully drawn, especially the scene with them on the balcony of their apartment when Waller lands her helicopter-thingy on the roof. Sauvage does an excellent job of drawing Kane and Sawyer as attractive women without making them oversexed. Ditto for Diana. I was the most lukewarm on the Soviet setting art. While the book is drawn with excellent accuracy in terms of its period feeling, art has, of course, come a long way. It’s tough to appreciate the art as anything other than era-based fan service rather than a new artistic style or flair.

Overall, I liked this book. It has a certain, genuine charm to it. But I came away not particularly engaged in any of the stories other than the Batwoman one. I’m not adding this to my regular pull just yet, but I would not avoid it if it came up in my weekly random picks that augment my regular pulls. For those who really like period pieces or who have a nostalgic yen for comics stylized from previous eras should like this issue just fine.