GLAAD has released their annual media award nominees this week and as per the usual, it’s straight fucking fire. Comics nominees are Saga, Love is Love, Black Panther, Midnighter/Midnighter & Apollo, DC Bombshells, Lumberjanes, Kim & Kim, The Woods, Patsy Walker aka Hellcat & All New X-Men. Other nominees include Star Trek Beyond in film; Super Girl, Black Mirror, Wynonna Erp, Orphan Black & Stevens Universe in TV & former podcast recommendations Blood Orange Freetown Sound & Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange in music. Wow. Details at GLAAD’s website
Over the weekend, the debut issue of Marguerite Bennett & Marguerite Sauvage’s highly anticipated DC Bombshells debuted digitally much to the joy of comics fans who had been awaiting the new comic. Based on a series of concept covers and statues, DC Bombshells refits it’s female superhero’s to look like classic WWII era pinup girls. It’s an idea that’s been met with some controversy for it’s levels of sexism and objectification but the series felt like it was being created as a way to bring back the character’s agency and in it’s first issue, it unequivocally succeeds in that while also being a really fun period else-worlds piece with a lot of heart beneath the surface.
DC Bombshells begins with showing a 1940’s era Batwoman who fights crime and plays baseball, sometimes simultaneously. She’s called Batwoman partially because of the whole Bat thing but also because she carries a baseball bat to fight crime. There is sort of goofy camp to the beginning of the comic that writer Marguerite Bennett plays to well in her so corny it really works style as a kind of slapstick superhero. But while it is legitimately humorous, Bennett and artists Marguerite Sauvage also manage to incorporate an air of cool to the heroine by giving her a slight edge aesthetically. There’s a tinge of “take no shit” to the character of Batwoman that aids in enduring her for the reader. That is also explored further in the issues second half as Batwoman and her lover, female detective Sawyer, talk about the former’s past adventures and the lack of excitement for her current relationship. Again, this is a sequence that has some really funny moments, like when Sawyer is trying to figure out a name for their hypothetical dog breeding farm they’ll retire to or when Kate cracks a joke about Ernest Hemingway, but there’s an element of sadness underneath all that as well which elevates it past it’s base level of enjoyment and gives it a certain level of gravitas that is enduring. Bennett’s writing is just right in it’s balance as it’s perhaps the best work of the young writers career so far.
Artist Marguerite Sauvage is excellent as per the usual here but it’s most impressive how she adjusts her style on the book to fit within the principles of the story and setting. Sauvage blends a more classical style with a hint of cartooning to it that is like nothing else being done right now but what’s most impressive is how adaptable that is here. It nails the period aspect of it about as well as has been done in recent comics but it has an aesthetic through-line that feels singular to the artist. It’s at moments pretty, at others goofy and others dynamic, and it navigates between those different stages seamlessly.
In it’s debut issue, Bennett & Sauvage are flawless in establishing a defined voice and style for Bombshells that incorporates the concept while expanding it into something far more interesting and engaging then could have been hinted towards from the variant covers or statues. In a year when DC Comics continues to redefine and expand it’s parameters for the publishing line of superhero books, Bomshells stands out as one of the most unique and enjoyable debut’s from the new crop of series. This comics exceeded almost every expectation I had for it as the creators run a tight and enjoyable opening salvo that establishes the world of the series while opening up the the range of possibilities for it’s potential. Bombshells opens up with bang.