By all rights, DC Bombshells shouldn’t exist, much less be one of the most fun and intersectionally feminist comics currently running. Based on cheesecake statuettes of DC Comics most popular heroines and villainesses, writer Marguerite Bennett has transformed these 1940s iterations from eye-candy to role models. Bennett and a rotating stable of artists have seamlessly integrated WWII –from the American and Russian homefronts struggling to get by with most of their populations embroiled in the war effort to the European and Pacific theaters — with an alternate reality where women and LGBTQA folks have already been fully accepted and embraced by society.
Now two years into its run, Bombshells is ready to introduce a new element to its universe. Not all missions take place on the battlefield. Sometimes a more covert touch is needed. So who does Amanda Waller send in for these ‘special ops’? The Suicide Squad, course. We caught up with Bennett and artist Aneke about what fans can expect from the Squad, other than Killer Croc’s abs, obviously.
You first introduced the Suicide Squad technically a few months ago in the Bombshells annual, but if readers did not happen to pick that one up, will they be able to just jump right into the new story without wondering what’s going on?
Bennett: Yes, that was one of the things I wanted to do. You might not know the backstories of the character, but you should be able to hit the ground running as far as who everybody is, what their powers are, and what they’re there to get.
Coming in as an artist, how familiar were you with Bombshells before this?
Aneke: I didn’t know the universe so well, but I knew of Marguerite’s work and had seen some beautiful pages and covers of Bombshells, and of course the lovely statues. It wasn’t until I was asked for a commission of one of the girls that I started to read the story better. I was also told by a colleague that my style would fit in with the Bombshells-verse and that I should try to draw them. It appears he wasn’t so wrong in the end!
Which members of the squad are in this version?
Bennett: Batgirl is going to be our front main center bombshell. Then also on the team is Frankie Charles, who is a West Point grad in this universe, and who looks just magnificent in a blue uniform and gold sword. She’s my favorite. She’s the leader of the team. We also have Enchantress who had a new design done up by Jim Fletcher specifically for the Bombshells annual actually, which was super wonderful. It’s like this pin-up witch outfit. It’s just exquisite. Then we also have Ravager. Rounding out the team is our token beefcake Killer Croc, who was a very different incarnation of Killer Croc than I think readers will have seen before.
Yeah, we spoke about this when the Annual came out, that I never thought I would be sexually attracted to Killer Croc.
Bennett: [Laughs.] Yes, that’s like baby Marguerite, who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, having some holdovers that were a little bit confusing.
It’s always fun when you can turn your fanfic into canon.
Bennett: Right? That’s pretty much the whole goal of being a writer at this point.
In the annual, Killer Croc is getting around, and the ladies are all fine with it. They all kind of have an open relationship going on. Is that continuing as we go forward?
Bennett: The actual definitions I can say less about, but I can definitely say that there’s a lot of flirtation, and flare, and charm, which I hope readers will come to expect from Bombshells.
What is the squad doing when we catch up with them? Amanda Waller had convinced them they should join the Bombshells, but what is their mission?
Bennett: They are a specific tactical team who are going to be sent on very concentrated, very unusual missions throughout the world, as opposed to one specific theaters of combat, we are being sent into places that there isn’t a military force. This first adventure is going to take place actually on a giant evil submarine. It’s like a ghost adventure story. It takes place completely within the very constrained, very claustrophobic atmosphere.
You’ve been doing the digital first for quite a while with Bombshells. Do you like it? It’s got to be a different animal than the traditional format.
Bennett: Yeah, I love it, honestly. The amount of space that we have for each story, for each issue we have 30-page installments as opposed to 20 pages, so each adventure gets to be a little larger, a little more fun, and it gives you a chance to do large, completely self-contained stories. I love having our own universe to play in, to be quite honest. It’s so fun to get to read more of the characters, to really unpack them and see what makes them them. To discover how much of their character derives of personality, and how much derives from experience.
I think we talked about this a few months back, how when you’re breaking these characters down, some of those experiences that help define them in main continuity are experiences they couldn’t necessarily have had in the Bombshells universe. You know, some of the characters have Cold War origins so their interpretation in the ’30s and ’40s come down to “Do these experiences translate to something that might be a sort of at a parallel moment in history, or is it something where maybe we decide to tweak their timeline?” The former is the case with Killer Croc where when he gets turned into a giant reptile man, he’s not in a position in his life where he is ostracized, and outcast, and driven to the sewers to become this cruel cannibal person. Instead, he’s surrounded by this coven of charming Louisiana witches who are happy to keep him occupied with rum-running.
For you Aneke, how different was this experience from working on, say, Red Sonja?
Aneke: Well, every story depends on their characters. Red Sonja is one of the pillars of my iconic comic vision since I was a child. She was the fierce warrior every sane little girl wanted to be in a brutal world full of chaos and doom. The lone warrior versus the world. The Bombshells are formed in a team, so it´s pretty different. You just don´t think and care about one life, but many, and you get involved with them and hope they manage to achieve their goals. It´s a gang, so I think you try to change the way of thinking. It reminds me when I started with Damsels, powerful ladies pursuing their goals, no need of being saved, working together, with a giant Croc by their side!
Between the comics and the merchandise, Bombshells is very popular. Do you think there’s ever a possibility that they could cross over into the main continuity, even temporarily?
Bennett: Yeah, I don’t see that there would be any inhibition for that given the fact that DC can operate on this multiverse. I think we’ve already seen Harley Quinn, however briefly, gets a crossover. I know Harley is sort of a genre in and of herself, but the number of sci-fi or fantasy explanations we could give to get a chance to put them on the ground, or bring characters from continuity into the Bombshell universe.
Any hope of sneaking some more steampunk elements into the world of Bombshells?
Aneke: If the story asks for it! I’m more willing to fall for a seductive good character than a gorgeous and Baroque outfit full of little devices! But of course a lovely mix is just irresistible.
If you could bring one female character from the main continuity to meet her Bombshell self, who would it be?
Bennett: Goodness, I mean, Batwoman. I’m so biased. All my answers are always Batwoman. I just love her so much.
Aneke: It´s Ravager. I just love her appearance, her acting and expressions. She´s a doer, in my mind, a mix of John McClane and Furiosa with two swords.
The first chapter of Bombshells: Suicide Squad run is now available for download via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.