Over a year ago, I sat down with writer Marguerite Bennet at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about her latest project: DC Comics Bombshells. The conceit was to take DC”s uber-popular statue line of iconic female heroes and villains dressed as 1940s pin-ups and convert it into an on-going series. A feminist alternate-reality series.
Needless to say, I”m a huge fan.
With the digital-first comic headed into its second year and 58th chapter, DC Comics cooked up a little something extra for fans. An annual issue featuring vampire Batgirl.
HitFix Harpy spoke with Bennet and her artist for this issue, Elsa Charretier, about baking in some more mystical elements to the Bombshells universe. Which somehow turned into a conversation about how Killer Croc would be a great lover in a world where people treated him with dignity.
HITFIX HARPY: Hello again, Marguerite! This has been such a crazy journey for you. Did you suspect this level of success was going to happen with Bombshells? Did you have this annual issue planned out in advance?
MARGUERITE BENNETT: I did not, actually! The fun thing is, because we have so much freedom on Bombshells, I didn't know what the annual story was going to be [at first]. I knew that we had Elsa. I really wanted to write a story that was for her specifically. Just aimed at her strengths and things that might interest her. When we were green-lit that we were going to get an annual, I was so surprised. I had this enduring outline. But now t was like, ‘oh you got a free story.” It”s like you're a TV show and you just got green-lit for a movie.
That was actually one of the conceits of the story, each of the heroines in the regular Bombshell series had their own chapter and each chapter had a genre by itself. Batwoman is this pulpy radio adventure reel, Supergirl is this propaganda film, Wonder Woman is a war story, Katana is a horror film. It jumps around, less a genre than a medium. For the Batgirl story, I really want it to be like a drive-in double feature. So it”s two different stories. Batgirl's past and Batgirl's future and the connections that happened in between. I guess we wanted to write something that was really beautiful and fun and romantic in Batgirl's past for Elsa, but then I also wanted to write something that was southern Gothic. Elsa told me she'd never done something like that before.
Elsa, I know that the Batgirl vampire statute already existed, so you had a base for what she was going to look like. With the other characters, like Enchantress, did DC give you a base on what they should look like or were you given creative control?
ELSA CHARRETIER: They gave me a design for each character. I didn't have to come up with any designs besides Frankie's. Well, a new version of her for this issue. A lot of people are going to be really happy to have Frankie on this because they want more of her.
It takes a special kind of person to walk into a room full of a vampire, a witch, a seer, and an inexplicably hot crocodile-man and just be like “Whatever. This is fine.” Speaking of, whose idea was it to have Killer Croc be the girls' booty call?
MARGUERITE: I had fun with that. Batman: The Animated Series was my gateway drug into comics in general. That remains my canon. I had a bunch of action figures and characters that captured me from that series. So Croc”s attitude could have just been from the period in which baby Marguerite was watching and was curious because I got crushes on all of the villains at one point or another.
ELSA: Yeah. If you saw the pages, I had to draw his butt at one point. It was really, really perky. Like, a real cute butt.
I can appreciate that Elsa's able to draw a man with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth that I wouldn't want anywhere near my lady parts, but I'm still like, maybe?
MARGUERITE: So much has been made in the past of his monstrosity and how it isolates him, this physical repulsiveness. You've seen this played out in relationships before. There's a lot of meat to it and there's a lot of complexity to it. With Bombshells, since we are an alternate-world story essentially, I thought it would be really fun to have Croc in a different dynamic. He still has his physical intimidation but he's very charming for whatever reasons. The ladies like him.
It's like you guys took Gambit's personality and shoved it into Killer Croc's body, and apparently I'm here for that.
MARGUERITE: Also, it's so much of a matter of nature versus nurture. With how these characters that exist in the current DCEU, it's built off of the experiences that they've had in addition to their basic personalities. When you put them in this alternate history, what part of their personality is innate and what part of it is learned? With Killer Croc, no one's driven him in the sewers. He's doing great as a rum runner in the Louisianan back woods. He has no reason to be so barbaric yet. Not to say that that won't happen. Things could go poorly for him, but right now he's just a rum running romantic crocodile man.
As Marguerite said earlier, this issue has a double-feature vibe where one side is a romantic World War I tale and the other side is a gothic bayou film. What was the most challenging aspect of that to draw, Elsa?
ELSA: I'm not sure which one was challenging. They were both in their own ways. I have to say that the part that happens in Provence is actually where I live in south of France. It's exactly what my garden looks like, all the lavender and stuff. It's very close to my heart.
MARGUERITE: Oh wow.
ELSA: Yeah, it looks exactly like my hometown. That was really nice to get to draw this place because I love it so much. I have to say, the gothic part was really, really good because I got to play with lightening a lot, which I really like! Both parts were equally fun.
Now the annual is a stand-alone story, but it does fold into the main continuity of Bombshells. At some point will Batgirl be non-vampire Batgirl? In her original statue is was obviously not undead. Is that something we will explore in later issues?
MARGUERITE: That is unfortunately a spoiler, but I can say as far as the annual, if you have not picked up Bombshells before, you should be able to jump in here. You don't have to have had any prior knowledge. These are essentially all new characters, except for a few like Amanda Waller. If you're looking for a jumping in point, this might be a fun place.
Since we”re talking about spoilers, can you give us any clues as to the identity of Batgirl”s former lover, Luke?
MARGUERITE: I can't actually reveal who Luke is. A lot of it is actually going to be who the readers think Luke is. You will learn definitively who he is in some forthcoming stories that will spin-off out of this issue.
The annual is out now, but where are the Bombshells headed in their next arc?
MARGUERITE: We”re going to the North African theater. It's going to feature Vixen and Batwoman, Renee Montoya, Catwoman, and Hawkgirl. It's going to be huge and bombastic.