The final installment of the “Allies and Enemies” storyline (Digital Firsts 28, 29, and 30) sees the culmination of the fight between Wonder Woman and the Baroness and a Catwoman/ Huntress / Batwoman team-up against the dark side rising (with a crucial assist from Zatanna and Constantine the Cottontail).
If you’ve been following along with this sometimes irregular ride, you know that we’re now pretty deep into this tale (a Digital First “Year” in Injustice is 24 issues). This has been a bit of a slow burn in some areas, and Marguerite Bennett has been juggling an enormous cast (some of whom feel a bit forgotten at this point given the recent focus on Wonder Woman in particular).
It raises the question for me whether the story as a whole is cohesive (or whether it will, actually, cohese). Independently some of the stories are very compelling: Wonder Woman’s has been one of the best, only overshadowed by Supergirl and Stargirl. With Mera in the middle, this part of the book feels the best-written and most engaging. Interestingly, all of these characters are joining the war effort from unusual worlds: from Themyscira, from the Ocean, and as defectors from Russian. Our American native-born hero, Batwoman, unfortunately, hasn’t been nearly as interesting.
In fact, though she started out really strong with Maggie as a partner and the two being separated by the call to war, Batwoman seems to have since lost her way. I still have to clear idea of what her objective was in going to Italy and now here she is in this issue, having traded her masquerade gown for the full Batwoman regalia, replete with…a Bat-rifle?
I’ve mentioned before that I feel like Bennett just doesn’t know what to do with Batwoman in a world full of otherwise highly powered superhero characters and it shows in this issue as she teams up with other non-superpowered characters (Catwoman and Huntress), and the three of them get in too deep, requiring a last-minute magical assist from Zatanna.
Which, I don’t know, doesn’t really resonate with me since it begs the question as to why these non-powered characters are even this deep in the fight against a supernatural foe. And sure, Batman himself has fought lots of ghoulies and demons and whatnot, but I would argue that those have never really been the best of showing what Batman brings to the table as a hero. And it doesn’t really work here either. Not for me, anyway.
Most of this issue focuses on this massive brawl, so perhaps that is also part of my frustration. While it was good to see Zatanna re-incorporated into the action (she’s one of those threads that seems to just be out there, dangling), her interjection into the fight was not only deus ex machina, but rendered somewhat cornball by artist Marguerite Sauvage’s giant dove. I mean, seriously. I feel like it could have been much more effective if the “vision” had been a little more vague (or at least not wearing a tie and waistcoat!).
That said, it’s really my only complaint about Sauvage’s otherwise really lovely work in this issue. Her depictions of the characters are otherwise lovely and although perhaps a tad cartoony in their expressions, absolutely fitting for the tone and style of this era. I especially like the two panels where Batwoman reacts to Selina kissing her, as even though there are parts of the image that are clearly digitally cut-and-paste, the faces convey the action effectively and the there’s enough fresh linework that the panels don’t feel redundant.
As i mentioned before, we also get to see more of Zatanna as she and Constantine are caught meddling and stripped of their powers by the evil Tenebrus. Tenebrus is a weak-looking villain, unfortunately. There’s not much to him but sharp teeth, empty eyes, and claws. Kind of disappointing, but we’ll see if he gets more interesting. Joker’s Daughter is also featured and has an interesting moment of actually defending Zatanna. Curious to see where that relationship is going (if anywhere).
But the highlight of this book, for me, is still Wonder Woman. Artist Laura Braga continues to bring us some sharp action in this section (and her horses have continued to improve, even if they are monstrously enormous!).
Braga has the challenge of having to draw enormous crowd scenes and some of the detail fails, but the main characters are always rendered well and stand out as a result, which is effective nonetheless. I want to call out J. Nanjan here too for a great job on the colors especially as this section continues to shift from the deep blue shades of darkness to the fiery glare of explosions. The glow of Wonder Woman’s lariat is also just exquisite!
- You love Wonder Woman! She’s the highlight of this book, I think.
- You’d enjoy a brawling team up with Catwoman, Batwoman, and Huntress.
- Zatanna and Constantine! They’re always great together!
DC Bombshells continues to be an uneven mix of fun character moments, sometimes great action, and occasionally puzzling design and plot choices. For sheer superhero entertainment with a deliberate focus on the female lineup, it can’t be beat, but the story feels less well-interconnected than its epic premise seems to promise and it lacks a balance of power as the mystical dynamics have completely overshadowed the more human elements of the actual world war. I’m still hoping we’ll circle back to that as there are characters we haven’t seen for a while, but in the meantime, it’s always great to watch Wonder Woman kicking butt and taking names!