In Review: DC Comics Bombshells #4

A visually mixed book generates a mixed response, but this is worth checking out.

The cover: Ant Lucia has created another sweet cover for fans to drool over! Harley Quinn is doing her best impersonation of Slim Pickens from Dr. Strangelove as she rides a bomb downwards. The look on her face is one of absolute delight and she waves at the reader as she falls. Behind her is the phrase “Keep ‘Em Flying!”, but isn’t she actually “Falling”? Terrific illustration with terrific colors that teases the appearance of the Clown Queen of Crime. Overall grade: A+

The story: Three different tales in this issue, all written by Marguerite Bennett. The first features Supergirl and Stargirl who are participating in a parade to show the might of Communist Russia. Their images are used for propaganda to show the country’s strength to others as well as to their own citizens. On a mission, the pair are ordered to kill the pilots of planes that are attacking. The two refuse, instead taking out the planes and then taking the parachuting pilots into captivity. They are then ordered to obliterate a Nazi war camp below them, but upon closer inspection it’s not what they were told it was. Together they come to a decision that will change how they act to those in charge and how their country will see them. In London, at the Arkham Ward for the criminally insane, Dr. Quinzel foregoes a Christmas party to stay on duty alone and encounters a situation with Shondra Kinsolving. This character may spark some memories in Batman fans, and she’s the instigator of Harleen’s change into a character who’s currently extremely popular in DC Comics. What this character does is fun, but it’s her encounter with an individual on Pages 18 and 19 that had me stammering; I was not expecting to see this character in this book and his inclusion could certainly change up much of her story. I want to see more of Harley now! The final story is in Greece and Wonder Woman is the lead character. She has a conversation with Steve Trevor that didn’t really do much. It neither expands their characters or plotlines. The cliffhanger that she is left in is fairly easy to escape from. This was the one dud of the issue. Overall grade: B+

The art: As with previous issues, there’s a different artist for each tale, and two are very well done, with one being just average. The first tale is illustrated by Bilquis Evely. I really like her art. She does a solid job on her heroes, so much so that I wish she was illustrating the entire issue. The first three pages contain images of Supergirl and Stargirl as propaganda pieces and I would purchase any poster or print made from these drawings. I was really impressed with the third and fourth panels on Page 2. To see these two doing these actions, drawn so well, is akin to magic on a page. When the pair have to battle the squadron of planes, the vehicles are drawn well and the huge numbers of prisoners they take are also well rendered. Evely also does emotion well, with the last panel on 5 being heartbreaking. Page 6 is a symbolic leaving and it’s wonderful. I really want The All-Star Squadron to come back as a book and Evely illustrate it. Mirka Andolfo does the Harley Quinn story and it, too, is amazing looking. Her style for this story resembles that of Alan Davis, especially when Harleen is shown. When she finally turns into her crazed alter ego, Andolfo gives her a fun animated response with hearts over her eyes. The party scene is visually fun, as her final page. I would like Andolfo to draw every Batman comic. The final tale is illustrated by Laura Braga and it’s not working for me. The characters are okay, but two elements really take me out of the story: the emergency van that Steve sits in does not belong in the 1940s and there is too much empty space on Pages 28 and 29. This isn’t a problem if it’s done to increase the tension of the story, but there’s no justifiable reason for this layout. With this much empty space, time should have been spent in putting fine details into the art, such as all the soldiers that appear in the end, but their faces have little more than slits for eyes, noses, and mouths. This is an unusually disappointing ending, given how strong the first two stories are visually. Overall grade: B

The colors: Wendy Broome does a great job on this issue. I reveled in the bright colors used for the propaganda images of Supergirl and Stargirl. When the pair make a decision about their futures, the colors become more realistic, and Broome has the settings look fantastic, with the heroines’ costumes making them instant focal points. The colors also radically change on the second story when Harleen undergoes a change. The story begins in the colors of reality but then spiral into lunacy with bright reds and greens. The final story doesn’t allow for any change of colors: things begin under a gray sky and end that way. The greens of the forest and the soldiers’ uniforms doesn’t allow for any leniency, but Broome does a decent job with this chapter. Overall grade: A

The letters: Broadcast dialogue, propaganda font, opening story title and credits, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, radio transmissions, distant utterances, singing, a whisper, yells, loving dialogue, and next issue’s tease all come from Wes Abbott. He does a lot of varied work on this book, making something text related look pleasing to the eye on every page. I really liked the sounds that Abbott creates and Harley’s lovey dialogue. Overall grade: A

The final line: A visually mixed book generates a mixed response, but this is worth checking out. The first two tales were great, while the third was a let down. Wonder Woman has been the least interesting character in this series so far. Perhaps she could be left for a while to introduce other heroes. Overall grade: B+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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