We start a new arc with this issue now that the recruitment is more or less completed. Moving from enlistment to “Combat”, you might expect a lot of exciting conflict and Marguerite Bennett delivers for the most part. Kara and Kortni have been made fighting icons for the Russians (and are hating every moment of it), we are introduced to Dr. Harleen Quinzel in London’s Arkham Asylum where she gets unhinged at the thought of being reunited with her former love, and meanwhile, Princess Diana of Themyscira has adopted the Wonder Woman mantle (and wardrobe) to fight for the Americans, but she’s not finding that an easy transition.
I said it before and it still holds true for this issue: the book suffers a bit for having such a fractured storyline. Or rather, for trying to tell so many stories simultaneously. I was really hoping that once the enlistment period was over, we’d see the characters come together and develop into something like a team of set of teams, but they are still largely separated by country and purpose. To Bennett’s credit, each individual story is engaging, but to be honest, I think this is one case where the weekly digital issue is the best, most effective way of getting this story. These compilation issues are too far in between (to the point of not seeing characters or storylines for months) and that can be frustrating for readers.
Still, this continues to be a really interesting conceit and the characterizations are nicely done. I’m hanging in there with it and looking forward to seeing more superhero versus Nazis action.
Bilquis Evely’s use of propaganda-like staging through this section is kind of awesome
Interesting New Developments
The cover of this issue (once again by the inimitable Ant Lucia) clues you in right away that Harley Quinn is going to make her appearance in this issue, and she does in a big way. It’s not clear yet how her storyline is going to dovetail with the others (she’s in England, they’re all over the globe elsewhere), but she quickly sheds her doctor persona to go rampaging in a slightly early Christmas-themed section.
Some interesting bits about this section:
- Artist Mirka Andolfo does a nice job capturing Harley’s cuteness and craziness in equal measures. the work is a nice complement to the series overall.
- People are actually celebrating Christmas instead of some unnamed winter holiday where there happens to be a tree full of lights and presents. Harley even sings actual Christmas carols and uses a stand-up nativity scene to batter a masher. That’s pretty awesome.
- Surprise appearance from Shondra Kingsolving!
- Harley is kind of awful and vicious–just like the ol’ days!
He’s back, perhaps, but I have doubts we’ll actually see him
Additionally, we see the ways that the Night Witches are manipulating and betraying Kara and Kortni. The girls aren’t that naive, but they are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place when it comes to fighting for their country and doing what’s right. Bennett continues to motivate their inevitable defection.
I also appreciate that Steve Trevor continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (though why he can’t dress himself as a result is a curious thing I’ll leave in the lap of artist Laura Braga, who otherwise brings a nice heavy black line quality that’s nicely reminiscent of Bruno Redondo’s work in Injustice.
Overall the three artists who contribute to this book (Andolfo, Evely, and Braga) are well-matched and the distinction between them, while not seamless, is minimized, bringing a nice uniformity to the issue. They are also all drawing in what is a largely “classic” superhero style (no heavy stylizations here), which, I feel, is a better match for the book because of the vintage-style of Lucia’s Bombshells and the era in which this story takes place.
Less Interesting, Less Developed
There’s a lot to enjoy in this book, but some of the conflict feels a bit forced. Kara and Kortni will come to blows against their own country, of course–that’s inevitable and it feels well-plotted for the most part, but Wonder Woman’s beef with the Americans regarding the capture of Nazi prisoners is a bit over the top and ends on a cliffhanger that’s less cliff-hangy and more eye-rolly.
I’m also a little curious about how this alternate timeline works in terms of the war overall. We know magic and monsters are involved and one of the American soldiers talks about the Nazi’s killing people, but there are aspects of the “big picture” I feel like we’re not getting here. This isn’t the rise of Nazi Germany from the textbook, so I hope we get more context to understand the politics behind what’s happening.
Or not. Just more punching Nazis in the face would be good too.
Yes, Steve opts to wear rags and carry a staff like a prophet of old, apparently.
- You enjoy female-centered comics with strong women leads.
- A weirdly wonderful pre-New 52 Harley Quinn is a refreshing change of pace.
- You like a throwback to the Golden Age of comic books (both in terms of the themes and aesthetics).
The Bombshell women are headed into combat and it seems like only a matter of time before they get into fisticuffs with one another. In the meantime, however, they are still trying to figure out their roles within the armies to which they have pledged. Add the unpredictable element of Harley Quinn leaping into the fray with agendas of her own and you have an entertaining mix of nice throwback bubblegum adventure with a little slice of the darkness of global warfare lurking beneath the glitzy costumes. Bennett does a marvelous job of explaining Wonder Woman’s costume and makes the first literal connection to the painted airplane bombshells so familiar from World War II. This is a great series, even though it occasionally feels all over the European map at the moment.