DC Comics Bombshells is over... long live DC Comics Bombshells!
Yes, the digital-first weekly series written by Marguerite Bennett and featuring a rotating team of artists including Marguerite Savauge, Stephen Mooney, Bilquis Evely and more, has finally come to an end with the release of its one-hundredth issue. The finale arrive with the Siege of Leningrad and most of the sereis' plots wrapped up nicely. It was a happy ending -- or, as happy as any ending could be in that dark time.
Of course, as we know, it’s not actually an ending. Soon Bombshells -- that inscrutable, miraculous series -- will return as an all-new digital-first title, but before that day, we're celebrating one of the most unlikely comics to see success in quite some time.
It’s had (like a Senior High School quote) a long strange trip from inception to print. In fact, the series didn’t begin as a comic, but as a line of collectibles. Bombshells has its roots in a line of statues based on prints of artist Ant Lucia. His artwork depicted DC's superheroines -- Wonder Woman, Stargirl, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn -- as World War II-era pin-up girls, i.e.: gorgeous bombshells. Due to the popularity of the statue line, DC commissioned more, and their ranks grew to include Zatanna, Black Canary, Killer Frost, Jesse Quick, Bumblebee and Raven -- all of whom would go on to star in the eventual series. After the comic book arrived, the Bombshells line exploded, inspiring a fashion line and more, all thanks to the brilliant choice of creators helming the serialized adventure.
Writer Margueritte Bennett proved a perfect choice for the series, given the fact that she herself is queer and has had a history of writing sexy female characters without depicting them as objects. The artist for the first round was Marguerite Sauvage, whose work brought Ant Lucia's designs to life for the first time as full-fledged characters. Thus was born DC Comics Bombshells.
The first chapters told the story of Batwoman AKA Kate Kane, who went out stopping crime with a literal bat. She's a lesbian, but the story is told with none of the era-appropriate homophobia. Kate lives with her girlfriend, and longs after the days when she was an adventurer. Eventually, she gets drafted into the war and, the story spills out from there, chapters following different heroes in different fields of war, and back home in America, all of it building to a climactic stand-off in Leningrad, one hundred issues after the series debuted.
Through it all, the series maintained heart and humor, both of which are tough to manage when writing what is basically a glorified statue advertisement set in the middle of World War II. The series, primarily filled with women, was heavily romantic, bordering on sensual, with many of the superheroines in relationships with each other -- including Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman x Mera (which, Justice League, please show us that?). Wonder Woman would also later date Steve Trevor, making this comic the first depiction of a canon bisexual Wonder Woman, which is just one of the amazing things about it -- it’s so incredibly queer.
Throughout the whole series, Bennett managed to keep queer characters and their queer kisses front and center, even as war burned and spun around them.
Somehow, Bennett and her team of artists managed to spin gold out of what seemed to be an almost impossible task. Bombshells quickly became one of DC’s most interesting, humorous, sexy, and queer comics ever made.
And then, all of that ended. Or, at least, it has for the moment.
The series is currently taking a small break, but will relaunch with a brand new story (or Act II, as the comic refers to it) taking place in America and dealing with racism and discrimination. And we expect it will remain weird, queer, funny and charming -- in short, just the thing we need now.
With Pride Month in full swing, we need to take a moment and remember that gay characters in comic books have traditionally been sidelined, left out altogether, or were brutally murdered on page. Thus, having a group of queer superheroines is a (super)heroic act in and of itself.
Bennett crafted a one hundred issue-long digital series that had queer women at the forefront -- queer women who actively kissed, loved and were with each other. Lesbians, bisexual characters and even a couple of transgender girl characters. The series had everything you could want from a comic about queer women. And through it all, it was still cute and smart and sexy.
It’s queer as heck and made no apologies for it, just like its amazingly bold writer. Every choice reflected that dedication to making a fun and beautiful comic for queer women. Heck, it was even the first comic to ever show us Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn kissing and sharing a bed, explicitly romantically.
Even if, somehow, you can ignore the queer portrayal, you’ve still got a comic that’s a whole lot of fun. It features Contantine turning into a rabbit, Killer Frost as an arch-villain, the Joker's Daughter's supervillain cabaret, Wonder Woman and Mera fighting to save the world together, and the Batgirls of Gotham teaming with Lois Lane to report the truth and fight the good fight. Everything about this series -- both the queerness and the capers (though, truthfully, there's no division between the two) is non-stop joy.
Despite the series seeming to have a rather strict purview -- superheroines that are sexy fight in World War II -- it managed to craft dozens of different tones and tales, war stories and dramas, thrillers and horror stories. In fact, The only off limits remit for the series appears to have been doing something heterocentric and boring.
Of course, this wide view sometimes made the series felt less like a singular series and more like the briefest glimpse at a brand-new, bold and amazing DC Universe. But that’s not a bad thing. For once, an Elseworlds-style tale felt like it really was an alternate comic universe, on we want to see more of. After all, there were so many characters and so many tales we only got glimpses of. Stories with Amanda Waller and a new Suicide Squad with a vampire Barbara Gordon; a family being born of Zatanna, Constantine and Raven; Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy -- so many stories, it feels like dozens and dozens of comics could spin out of it.
And while we would love to see that, we have to admit that unless Bennett is willing to give up everything she has resembling a life, none of them would likely be as good as the main series. She truly was the only one who could bring the Bombshells to life and take us on a journey of a hundred issues, only to leave us wanting more.
Even after all this time, it feels like we just got to know these characters when the hundredth issue came around. There are so many characters, with so many plots that lock and interlock, combine and spin away, that it feels like we've barely skimmed the surface of the immensely awesome Bombshell universe. We want more. And in this time of darkness and strife, we need more superheroines who are unabashedly queer. We need voices of hope and light.
Which is why it's super good news that Bombshells is coming back in August.
DC Comics Bombshells is dead, long live Bombshells United!
The first chapter of Bombshells United will launch Friday, August 25 with new chapters available weekly. Print issues will collect two digital chapters, each beginning September 6, and will ship twice monthly.