After a decade working on a wide variety of comics of his own creation, writer and artist Jimmie Robinson premiered what has become his trademark character, Bomb Queen, in 2006. On the surface, "Bomb Queen," a series of miniseries from Shadowline and Image, appears to appeal to the basic sex and violence crowd by featuring a scantily clad super-villain as its main character. But readers will find such an appraisal to be deceptive. As a book where "evil" routinely wins the day, "Bomb Queen" is brimming with wry observations, social commentary and, between the boobs and booms, leaves you with considerable food for thought.
Now embarking on the sixth "Bomb Queen" miniseries, Robinson spoke with CBR News about the Bomb Queen's new high profile opponent and some sweeping changes coming to the series.
Put succinctly, the latest installment in the "Bomb Queen" series takes on a recent comics trend by pitting the title character against the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Get it? O-bomb-ah.
"While folks might roll their eyes at this point, this is the exact time for this book," Jimmie Robinson told CBR. "Because unlike other comics who are lining up to help the President, Bomb Queen is doing just the opposite -- she wants to kill him, destroy him and everything he stands for -- and Bomb Queen always wins."
"All these Pro-Obama covers are just ammo for Bomb Queen," Robinson continued. "Blood will pour like waterfalls when I'm done. Folks tend to forget that 'Bomb Queen' is a villain book, thus the rules are different for me. The normal superhero platform is reversed. Likewise, it's not just the character that's evil, but also the society that supports her. The series has always been a satirical jab at politics, the comic industry, media and the twisted Shamwow of pop culture. So really this isn't a surprise."
Those new to the series will find that Bomb Queen is a super-villain who controls a secluded city on the east coast of the United States. Said Robinson, "She is not a 'normal' villain as some might think. She's not an anti-hero, not a vigilante, not a misunderstood villain lamenting the loss of her parents, loved one or family dog. Bomb Queen is pure, one-hundred-percent, full-on evil. She does not comprehend compassion or ethics like others - in that regard she's no different from a wild animal. She has no childhood or morals to fall back on like other people. In fact, she has no real name beyond her title. The government created her as the ultimate prison warden over New Port City. The problem is she does her job too well. Now she rules the town like a dictator and creates the laws. Superheroes are banned, rape, murder, torture, drugs, pedophiles and hatred is condoned. This Wild West environment, it's a magnet for criminals across the country, so the government tolerates Bomb Queen because it pulls criminals off Main Street."
In this latest adventure (or misadventure), Bomb Queen has less a cast of supporting characters and more, as Robinson puts it, a cast of characters at her disposal. "Momma Wong is a dominatrix who runs a restaurant in New Port City," Robinson said. "The restaurant doubles as a sex brothel specializing in underage children. Some of these kids have become assassins for Momma Wong's gang, the KKK (Krazy Killer Kids). Momma Wong is also a laboratory technician and she aides the Queen with any scientific means.
"Ashe is a demon in the form of a black cat. The cat can talk and reluctantly protects Bomb Queen from supernatural forces. This contract was formed through the events in volumes three and four, and it gets pretty thick with spoilers.
"We'll also see new villain characters in volume six, such as Miss Demeanor & Fellow Knee; an oddball team who does dirty work for the Queen outside of her city of crime. And in the background at all times is the city itself. New Port City is quite a character that readers have come to love. It's a strange environment that's both insane and surprisingly identifiable. The people of New Port City are pretty much anarchists. Almost anything goes. I've received emails and talked to fans in person for ideas when there's not enough crazy city in the book. "
In the role of antagonist, which also reads as "hero" in the case of the "Bomb Queen" books, is President Obama, fresh off appearances in books like "Amazing Spider-Man," "Savage Dragon" and "Youngblood." But the President will have some allies in his battle to shut down Bomb Queen's corner of the world. "He obviously has the superhero community at his disposal," said Robinson. "However, I'm keeping the Image Universe contained to just the Shadowline characters just to keep everything under control. Editor Girl will return. Robert Kirkman actually likes this character because she breaks the fourth wall in comics. Her ability is to 'edit' word balloons on the page, which changes the context and action in the following panel. We'll also see the members of Cape-Watch return from volume five. They're the investigative comic book journalists who always get in trouble with the Queen. But this time out they'll need to help the President. Thus, when looking at it you have the Queen and her cast, and Obama and his cast playing this out like a game of chess, moving people around the country and defending or attacking. But ultimately the two leads will meet head-to-head."
Readers will get what they want out of "Bomb Queen VI," said Robinson, and there are elements for a wide variety of tastes. "Some are there for the T&A. Some are there for the over-the-top violence. Some for the twisted story. And some for all the above. This new book continues that theme," Robinson said. "But ultimately this series is about extremes. Much like the father who catches his kid smoking and makes him smoke the entire pack as a lesson. Since I'm on the reverse side of the superhero platform, I don't have to worry about didactic messages like, don't do drugs, or family issues, lost love, heroic salvation, or whatever. Obviously, I can still use those issues with the side characters in the book, but the core of the series is about evil winning the day. "
What catches readers off guard when they first approach Bomb Queen is the depth that Robinson achieves in examining evil as a concept. "When viewed from a societal aspect, this series can branch into statements in regard to cultural ideals," he explained. "Is something 'evil' if society embraces it? How do moral, ethical and cultural rules vary from region to region? If everyone in town is a criminal then what is crime? 'Bomb Queen' explores some of those issues, but not with a heavy stick."
Robinson continued, "In volume four, she delivered a rousing two-page speech to the citizens in her town and I basically took the great speeches from the last century and turned them upside down. It opened my eyes to the belief that anyone can make a case, for good or evil, using key ideals, concepts and fear tactics. When society accepts these ideals as truth, then movements are born. How they are viewed is up to the individual. Slavery, at one time, was God's will given to man. Many wars were (still are) conducted under the belief of another view, another religion, another set of laws. I'm not purporting that 'Bomb Queen' is on par with such sociological import, especially when some folks see it as a simple T&A book, but the series does cast a shadow across those sociological issues. So the book continues to be many things to many people and I like it that way."
Robinson's inspiration for Bomb Queen was born of the post-9/11 American culture under President George W. Bush. With the change from Republican to Democrat-dominated government comes a change in the culture, and therefore necessitates that Bomb Queen address the new regime. "Bomb Queen cannot exist under Obama's watch anymore than Guantanamo Bay, or Abu Ghraib," said Robinson. "To say Obama supports a criminal dictator on American soil is akin to condoning torture - which he does not. So the inspiration for the story was clear early on. Obama will attempt to shut down New Port City and the Queen will attempt to crush Obama's balls in a vice clamp. Folks thinking I'm jumping on some kind of Obama bandwagon clearly have not read the series. It's been about politics from day one, page one."
"Now, don't get me wrong," Robinson added. "I personally support the President, I'm glad he's in office, I voted for him. However, I have to write for my character - and she hates Obama. Just like Stephen King or Clive Barker, who write horrific characters and do not identify with them, so do I, or any writer worth their salt. So this volume was another test for me as a writer to go outside of my personal beliefs and script a story from a villain's perspective. Still, there's another part of the story, which is a spoiler I can't reveal, that came to me as inspiration from one of my readers. Yes, that's right, a long-time reader put my feet to the fire on a few issues and it made me think. Not just about the spoiler aspect, but about the series as a whole. "
As a result of the Obama storyline, readers can expect a shift in the "Bomb Queen" paradigm. While Robinson is unsure how readers will react to the change that's coming, he does believe that after 25 issues, the series is ripe for such a change.
With a series predicated on the prevailing of evil, whom does Robinson see as the target audience for such an audacious book? "Older readers who are cold-hearted, jaded, cynical, fans like me," Robinson said. "The covers are clearly marked with a 'Mature Readers' label, and I purposely create salacious covers that shouldn't be confused with a teen or all-ages book. That doesn't mean the content reflects the cover, but anyone selling 'Bomb Queen' to kids would have to be blind.
"Also, I hope older comic readers follow the title for the satire and for that they'll need a certain level of understanding about the comic industry, politics and pop culture. In fact, the book is very self-aware and often comments about itself.
"Still, 'Bomb Queen' is a lot of things to different readers; likewise the audience will vary wildly. In fact, you'd be surprised by the amount of female readers I meet at conventions. The take-no-prisoners attitude of the character is a power fantasy for some. In many ways she takes on a male role - but does so using her overt sexuality."
With five "Bomb Queen" miniseries under both the character and creator's belt, the only thing that is stopping both of them from making the leap to an ongoing series is time. "Simply put, there are not enough hours in the day," said Robinson. "Also, the Shadowline division of Image Comics uses a 'miniseries' format, so I'm not going to plead for a special case and break the established rules. I liked the short form because it allowed me to focus on individual stories. A beginning, middle and end. It was also my safety net if the series tanked. I can have my say, get the story told and not leave readers on the hook with a failed series."
At the end of the current volume, Robinson will be cementing in stone that "Bomb Queen" is unequivocally a villain book. "Everyone is fair game; the President, his cabinet, Democrats and Republicans, the media, America as a whole, and in fact, the entire world," Robinson promised. "The days of Bomb Queen being a localized villain are coming to an end."
The first of four issues of "Bomb Queen VI" hits the stands September 30 from Shadowline and Image Comics.