“Enlisted” concludes with a closing chapter of Zatanna and the Joker’s Daughter in Germany, Wonder Woman and Mera bringing Steve Trevor back to the world, and the return of Batwoman! As with previous issues of DC Bombshells, the split in the action is strongly demarcated by a dramatic change in the art style (more on that in a moment).
While we’ve got an impressive cast already assembled, this issue adds still more women into the mix. The dovetail point at which all of these characters and plots will intersect still feels far down the road, however, so reading this is a little bit like getting a three-in-one rather than a single contiguous comic experience. That has both advantages and disadvantages.
Zatanna’s storyline uniquely shares equal time between hero and villain
Let’s take a look at the good stuff first this time around:
Three-in-One isn’t a Bad Thing
The scope of this story is big–huge, in fact. Writer Marguerite Bennet is taking on the whole of the European conflict and that means weaving a tale across numerous continents (most real, but some imagined). Currently our Bombshell team is still being enlisted, so there’s no actual crossover at this point; each story remains in its own locale with its own unified action.
While I feel like this is a necessary thing for a variety of reasons (character development being the foremost), I’m looking forward to what I hope will be more a team book eventually. I’m anxious to see the women take on the Nazis, but for the moment we’ve got a slow burn going on. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is any dearth of action in this book. Because it captures three issues worth of Digital Firsts, it must have at least three conflicts with accompanying action sequences–and all three in this issue are great: supernatural shenanigans in the Joker’s Daughter’s burlesque club, Batwoman gearing up for her deployment, and Wonder Woman and Mera not only encountering a Nazi detachment, but being “discovered” by the American forces.
The downside, I think, is that the narrative rhythm of the book suffers for being predictable. You feel this a little bit with the two-in-one Digital Firsts (always knowing you’ll have a bit of a mid-book cliffhanger, and then a dramatic finale. Here, it feels even more predictable because the story is so fractured.
Everything about Batwoman in this book is just awesome!
Meanwhile, we get some surprises in this issue that are fun for future fodder:
- a glimpse into some dark underpinnings to the villainy at work in this world. We already know from issue no. 2 that there will be black magic at play and that Zatanna is under the thumb of the Joker’s Daughter; this time around we get a hint at who’s pulling JD’s strings.
- Batwoman’s got her own We are Robin clan grouping up in Burnside without her. Much as I dislike the character of Harper Row, it’s genius to make her a greasemonkey in this era and I really like Sauvage’s design for her.
- A certain catty Italian Contessa will hopefully be making her appearance soon.
- There’s some really lovely character development going on between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, who is still in a bad way since his plane went down.
But it Still Leads to a Lot of Sprawling
Once again we have a smorgasbord of artists working on this book: Laura Braga, Marguerite Sauvage (also doing her own colors), and Garry Brown–with additional colors by Wendy Broome and Doug Garbark. The only link in terms of the visuals are Wes Abbott’s letters. And so, once again, the book has very distinct looks from one piece to the next. I really wish this wasn’t the case as Sauvage’s work stands out as particularly fitting for this era and is head and shoulders above the others. Not that Braga and Brown don’t have their strong points, but I continue to feel this book would be better served with more consistency in the art department.
Braga’s work especially concerns me. While appropriate to the subject matter (the dark end of the dark), his female character renditions aren’t terribly appealing for a book called Bombshells that’s sold on the strength of its pin-up forerunners. He does JD well (she’s supposed to be twisted and awful), but Zatanna is kind of a mess with ugly misshapen hot pants and a hairstyle that doesn’t seem to quite know how it works.
In between the two is Brown, whose work on Wonder Woman and Mera is much more traditional. And speaking of Mera, I have a concern that she’s not going to be contributing much to the further adventures if the characters get landlocked, and that would be a crying shame.
Lovely bit of business: who doesn’t adore a fiery explosion?
- You’re a fan of that Bluebird gal? Well here’s some more of her.
- You want to see John Constantine in one of his funnier moments.
- Nazi’s, man. Superheroes kicking Nazis. What’s not to love?
DC Bombshells continues to be alternate-universe-kicking fun with this conclusion of the enlistment of some of our principal heroes. We’ve yet to see how our Russian sisters will be joining forces and Zatanna is still trapped in a Nazi pesthouse, but I have a feeling once Batwoman gets deployed overseas we’re going to see a lot more mixing it up. Still lots of characters to introduce in an already crowded cast, but so far Bennett is juggling it all beautifully even if the art continues to feel a tad schizophrenic in terms of tone.