For some time now I’ve been pretty critical of the art in the Bombshells series, but you have nothing to fear here. The mixed team of Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, and Maria-Laura Sanapo (with inks by Juan Albarran) makes this second installment of the “Allies” storyline (Digital Firsts 22, 23, and 24) a nice feast by recent comparison.
There’s no Batfamily in this trio of stories that focuses on Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Stargirl, and Mera, but this is some of Marguerite Bennett’s best writing for these characters in this series so far.
The Wonders of Women
In the first section, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor continue to get intimate as she tries to help him through his post-traumatic stress. There’s no time for that, however, because Paula Von Gunther arrives at the POW camp with her undead Tenebrae (which means Shadows in Latin, for those who don’t know). We’ve seen the rise of these creatures through black magic leading up to this point and now we finally see them full in action as they overtake the camp. The section ends with the reveal of the Baroness Von Gunther, who was Wonder Woman’s very first recurring enemy in Sensation Comics (appearing first in issue no. 4, created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter (April 1942).
Bennett continues to do a great job building this relationship.
Braga’s artwork in this section is generally very good. Her horses aren’t great but there aren’t very many of them to be distracting. J. Nanjan gives the landscapes glorious fiery explosions and deep blue shadows in contrast. I really like the palette of this section and especially how it uses darkness and fire to create a tone that is equally quietly sinister as well as action-packed.
Super Star Spangled
In the next section, we follow Kara and Kortni as they work through the emotions of leaving behind their homeland and the loss of of the only father they knew. Sounds like a lot of boring exposition, but Bennett makes the scene wonderfully poignant. These are young girls who have suffered a lot in a short amount of time. They’re strong, but need this time to grieve a little. The girls’ mother tells Kortni of her real father. Here Sandy Jarrell’s art takes us into a flashback that’s beautifully rendered with delicate illumination in the borders and antiqued colors from Kelly Fitzpatrick that evoke the past. This little story within the story is so fairytale-like and so lovely, but it feels perfectly integrated into the existing narrative.
A fairy tale replete with concerned forest creatures
I think Kara and Kortni’s story has been the strongest of the lines throughout Bombshells and this issue demonstrates why.
Nothing Fishy Here
Mera plays a considerable role in this issue in both the second part and the third. I have always loved this character and this is a great vehicle for her. I like how Bennett has used her as conduit for linking the other Bombshells to the American Forces (both Wonder Woman and Supergirl/Stargirl. She’s kind of an ambassador who welcomes them and invites them to join the battle against the rising evil.
A lot happens in this section with Kortni reunited with her Father, Kara feeling a little displaced by the happy reunion, the mention of a certain Mr. Nygma who works for Kortni’s dad, and Mera encountering the Tenebrae underwater–along with something even more pernicious slithering up from the deep. I love that Kara joins her to fight instead of going off to pout over Kortni’s newfound home.
You own that ocean, Mera! Own it!
The last sequence is drawn by Maria-Laura Sanapo with inks by Juan Albarran of Injustice fame. Sanapo has contributed some of the cleanest artwork in this series: artwork that evokes not only the era but a sense of nostalgia for crisp lines and bold dramatic action. Her faces are lovely and expressive, and although her backgrounds are simple, they are neatly rendered. I feel like Fitzpatricks colors could have had more nuance and added some texture, but I like that this section is so bright and uncomplicated.
This section (and the book) ends on an exciting cliffhanger with a big bag monster that should prove a handful for our intrepid women. I look forward to more stories at this level of quality in both the writing and the artwork!
- You’re a big fan of Mera and underwater adventures (I am!)
- You enjoy rich character development.
- You’d love a phantasmagorical spin on a history time period: the creatures in this book continue to get nastier and nastier!
Bennett does wonders with her almost exclusively female cast here. While I sometimes think Steve Trevor has been too far reduced to wallpaper, it works for developing a relationship with Wonder Woman and is a good exploration opportunity for the casualties of war. Supergirl and Stargirl make their way to their new home and join the fight after events that well-motivate their defection. And Mera gets to shine in a sequence that’s full of stunning action and beautiful clean-line artwork of which I hope we see much more!