Here’s a Gotham-centric one-shot called “The Batgirls Swing Again” (from Digital Firsts 37, 38, and 39), following on the coattails of last issue’s emotional conclusion to the fighting in London.

We need this break to step away and let our other heroes have a moment to regroup and grieve, and this is the perfect distraction: an urban tale full of spunky teamwork, some of Gotham’s worst villains, and a storyline that chillingly incorporates real World War II horrors and propaganda into the mix.

Because let’s face it, sometimes it’s easy to dismiss the threat of the Tenebrae because it’s just a comic and they’re sort of faceless ghouls not unlike the zombies in the Walking Dead, where you just eventually get desensitized to the fact that they were once people. But even though there are magical elements in this Bombshells world, it’s still an alternate universe World War II, which means there’s a Hitler out there exterminating Jewish people and those atrocities shouldn’t be minimized.

Marguerite Bennett does a nice job of incorporating real-life incidents of criminality into her Gotham underworld (particularly the conning and betrayal of Jews seeking asylum in the United States but unscrupulous people who take them for everything they’re worth and then betray them to the Nazis.

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All that and a transplanted wunderkind Lois Lane from Metropolis!

Things I Love about This Issue

  • More emphasis on the historical stuff. As I mentioned before, this issue feels much more grounded and that makes sense since we’re dealing with mostly non-superpowered heroes and villains here. Would like to see more of this in the super-powered sequences as well.
  • The return of Maggie Sawyer and the introduction of Lois Lane! Cool!
  • Just a great villain team-up with some intriguing reveals about their roles in the Gotham underground during wartime. Hugo Strange is creepy as usual and a flashback sequence that Lois recounts is very nicely rendered by Andolfo in her best work in this particular issue.
  • Qualano is a good addition to this title. Though some of his backgrounds seem a bit spare and his characters as a bit quick-brushed, his work has good energy and he makes the Harvey Dent parade sequence fly along despite some very dense dialogue.

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There’s lots of speechifying, but it’s pretty good stuff. Also, I believe in Harvey Dent!

Things I Don’t Love about This Issue

  • Mirka Andolfo Pasquale Qualano share art duties on this collected issue (with Qualano’s share being the center of the book [Digital First No. 38] and Andolfo bookending it with the other two issues). The continuity of the issue is great, but the figurework across the boards feels shaky. The girls aren’t very distinguishable except for their costumes and their expressions are pretty comical, which occasionally looks inappropriate to the subject matter. The animé influence is strong throughout and that’s not a bad thing, but the female characters really seem to suffer for it, while the villains look great (especially Penguin!)
  • Maggie Sawyer gets sort of dropped out of the picture while the girls to all the heavy lifting. I guess that’s not a terrible thing, but considering we met Maggie first and she’s barely had any development time, this was kind of disappointing.
  • I loved the inclusion of Killer Frost, but I’m not sure whe was used to her full potential and given that she should have been the “muscle” for Penguin, she got taken out rather quick and rather easy by a bunch of teenagers.
  • Why is Lois Lane 17? I get that they wanted her to be a newsie so she had to be young, but it still struck me as an odd choice.

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There’s an emotional stand-off in the finale; predictable, but it still resonates

Harvey Dent is not yet Two-Face (though he does some two-faced things that are intriguing). It will be interesting to see if and how his character might evolve. But it’s been five issues since we spent time with the Gotham Batgirls, so it might be a while before we see them again.

Recommended If…

  • A fun Bombshells one-shot with focus on Gotham sounds like a nice diversion from Rebirth.
  • You’re a big fan of Penguin, Harvey Dent, and/or Hugo Strange!
  • A 17 year-old “newsie” Lois Lane intrigues you.

Overall

After last issue of Bombshells was so emotionally heavy and had such a big impact on the lineup, it was nice to take a break from that theatre of the war and come back to Gotham for a spell. The “Batgirls” are an interesting team-up (even if they are sans Babs Gordon), and this issue has some great villain moments with the Penguin and Hugo Strange. It also introduces young Lois Lane, who is as intrepid as ever, and reminds us that Maggie Sawyer is still back home waiting for her Kate Kane to return as well. As always this book delivers solid adventure for the price of admission even if it is of the more predictable variety.

SCORE 7.5/10