Last year DC Comics turned their BOMBSHELLS line – a popular collection of 1940s superheroine pin-up statues – into a digital first series written by Marguerite Bennett. The series revolves around Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Aquawoman, Supergirl, Stargirl, and Zatanna. What could have been fluffy cheesecake was instead a deeply feminist and entreatingly refreshing alternate history set in 1940.
Unlike the World War II era of reality, the world of the Bombshells exists in a place where no one bats an eye at LGBTQA folks in the United States. A place where space exploration began much earlier. A world where the paranormal Tenebrae feasts on the dead and use the Nazi war machine to further the goals of his mysterious master. It”s also a world where John Constantine is a chain-smoking bunny rabbit and Huntress is a rock-and-roll teenager leading the youth resistance in Nazi Germany.
You know, something for everyone.
With the climatic second arc concluding this week, I spoke with Marguerite Bennett over the phone about writing the series, where she plans to take the girls next, and if this timeline will ever have a Batman.
HITFIX HARPY: It's been a while since we talked about BOMBSHELLS. What's it been like writing for a comic with a 75% female cast for a year?
MARGUERITE BENNETT: That was one of the major points of relief, frankly. When you look at most superhero teams or action-adventure stories in general, there tend to be five dudes and one woman. So that one woman is then tasked with representing the entire spectrum of all female experiences ever. She has to be beautiful and maternal and maidenly. But also coquettish and sexual and strong. She has to have a dark past but she has to be innocent and vulnerable. She has to validate all possible female experiences which NO WOMAN CAN DO and it is a ridiculous expectation.
So with a mostly female cast, suddenly there were enough women. I didn't have to overthink “Well if she has a romance, is that detracting from her independence?” You don't have to worry about that because no one person now has to stand for the entire experience of womanhood. They're free to be themselves, to express their personalities and desires.
Amanda Waller is the original – and amazing – Bombshell. Will we ever get her origin story?
BENNETT: Oh yes. We're going to have some flashbacks and things coming up. They'll be scattered throughout the series. You'll find out what led Barda to be involved and how the program got started and how Amanda Waller recruited Dr. Light. They're the original threesome who have essential been tipped off that the German war machine was coming. They were the ones who put these plans in place so when the first shots were fired they could hit the ground running with recruitment.
Do you find out ahead of time which statues are coming down the pipe from the Bombshells line?
BENNETT: I do have inside intel as to what statues are coming next so that I can try and time them to the comics but there are no plans that I'm aware to take designs created for the comics and turn them into statues.
Early on in the series, we see Batwoman save the Wayne family from imminent demise. With no childhood trauma, will Batman even exist in this timeline?
BENNETT: I will say in this version of Bombshells, I always needed it to be that the women came first. There was no heroine that was derivative of her male counterpart. Also, in our timeline, Bruce is about ten right now. Beyond that, I can't give any spoilers to what role he may or may not play. But I like to imagine Bruce has a happy childhood for once. I may change my mind because I'm a cruel and fickle mistress. [laughs] But for the time being Bruce is having a happy childhood with his parents.
Supergirl and Stargirl have mentioned several times that their father was a cosmonaut. Did the space race begin early in the Bombshells timeline?
BENNETT: Yeah that was something we really wanted, especially for Supergirl's origin. When Kara's vessel fell to Earth, we wanted the Soviets to already be poking around in space. That they knew Krypton existed and then something happened to it. So they are a lot further ahead than they were in our standard timeline. We're going to come back pretty hard into the Soviet space program in an upcoming arc.
As far as where the United States stands on space exploration, I'm playing that close to the vest especially with what some of the American scientists have been up to. You know, those shadowy government figures.
Undead Nazis, sea monsters, and now space? The series has come a long way in a year!
BENNETT: With each arc I just want to get bigger and bigger and go farther afield. With our first six issues, it was really about – because this is not a straight historical WWII – I wanted to spend those issues anchoring people with both the characters and the world. All these different communities and places the heroines might inhabit during the war. All these different cultures to create one vast landscape.
Now with the climax of the second arc beginning – the BATTLE OF BRITAIN (Chapter 33 is on digital shelves today!) – all those different threads are going to come together and pay off. There's a lot of craziness coming.
Not sure how you feel about digital first comics? DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS VOL ONE: ENLISTED is on sale now! The paperback collected issues #1-6.