Monday, October 16, 2017

Bombshells United #2-3

Title: Bombshells Unleashed #2-3: American Soil Parts 3-6
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Marguerite Sauvage, Marcelo DiChiara, Siya Oum, and Luciano Vecchio
Colorist: J. Nanjan
Letterer: Wes Abbot
Cover Artists: Stephanie Hans, Emanuele Luppachino & Tomeu Morey
Editor: Kristy Quinn & Jessica Chen

On Russell's behest I decided to combine the reviews for Bombshells United #2 and 3 since they came out so close together, and as of right now #4 should be coming out this upcoming Wednesday.

The issues follow right after the end of the second issue, and while Dawnstar is heavily featured in the first half of the second issue, she doesn't appear much in the second half or at all in the third, but her influence is felt in #3. Because the segments are done by different artists, the review is broken into four parts. I have to say I am EXTREMELY satisfied with Bennett's use of Dawnstar.

#2 Part I - Art by Marguerite Sauvage

Issue #2 picks up immediately where the first issue ended, with Wonder Woman in the middle of battling Clayface. Clayface rants about how Wondy betrayed America for the sake of freeing a bunch of internees and prisoners. Wondy asserts it is Americans, Clayface's own people, she's been trying to free, and the battle starts to get lopsided as Clayface's malleable body makes it difficult for Wondy to injure or even detain the man of muck. Cassie Sandsmark and Donna Troy show up with makeshift weapons to help Wondy, but Clayface uses their appearance to gain the upper hand and knock down the nearby watchtower. As Wondy tries to stop the structure from falling on top of Donna and Cassie, Clayface drudges through the woods and heads towards the camp where Dawnstar and the other internees are taking shelter.

Back at the camp, twins Yuki and Yuri assist Dawnstar in reinforcing the camp's defenses, and gain support from Korean American internee Emily Sung (mentioned last issue). Dawny mentions she warned Donna and Cassie about an old silver mine located nearby and what they might have to do if the American troops find their camp. Dawny then gets heavy into exposition and she reveals, if only a little, who she is in this world and where she comes from.

(Okay that last part about it being complicated HAD to be a crack about how complicated the Legion is and I love Bennett being self aware)

The next two pages are about Dawny explaining she's able to create apparitions made from stardust to aid her, and, as she puts it, she chose to come to America to help the internees. Honestly, this segment struck a chord in me as Dawnstar talks further on the cycle of the abused and the abusers, the oppressed and the oppressors. She says how easy it is to benefit from an injustice even if they weren't involved in it, but it is possible to use whatever strength gained from such injustice to change things for the better. Do not imitate your abusers. Seek to be better than they are. Dawnstar is frank and honest here, saying how monstrous it is that the world continues to spin based on how the wronged are expected to forgive their wrongdoers, when said wrongdoers continue to do nothing to EARN that forgiveness.


#2 Part II - Art by Marcelo DiChiara

This next segment isn't as heavy as the first part was. Emily and the twins leave the camp to look for Wondy, Cassie, and Donna, while the latter three are still looking for Clayface. Eventually everyone loses track of one another in the rain, and when they regroup, naturally suspicion sets in when they realize Clayface could be any of them. Wondy tells Dawny to seal the camp doors so that way no one may enter or leave until they can figure where, or who, Clayface is.

However, the best part of this half comes from Donna realizing this mistrust is exactly what Clayface wants, much like how those back home want the internees to turn on each other to make them easier to subjugate. Donna makes everyone grab hold of Wondy's lasso of truth, and all of them answer honestly as to who they are. Wondy hesitates for a moment, but then answers by her real name, Diana of Themyscira. Unfortunately, that means if Clayface isn't posing as one of the girls, where is he? And then Donna and Diana realize all this time they've been standing in the rain, standing in mud... in CLAY.


#3 Part 1 - Art by Siya Oum

Clayface reveals himself once more, and continues ranting about what Diana "chose" over America, or rather, over HIM. Diana orders the girls to run as Clayface turns into a tidal wave and tries to destroy the trenches protecting the camp. Diana tells Donna and the others to split up, given her familiar the Black Eagle the amulet she's been holding onto from Vixen, and confronts Clayface alone.

Clayface rants some more about the glorious tales they used to tell about Wonder Woman riding in battle, but she sees no value in stories that glorify using strength only as a means to fight instead of to protect. Clayface expresses his disgust on hearing how she stayed to bury the dead bodies on the battlefield, even those of the enemy, and how she showed mercy to horrible people like Paula Von Gunther, Cheetah, and Alexander Luthor. Wonder Woman won't go further until she knows Clayface's true name, not the name of someone only interested in creating terror. "Basil Karlo," he says. Diana tries to reach out to Karlo's humanity and asks if he truly wants to be a killer, asking what he truly desires. Karlo begins to calm down, kneeling to Diana and saying he wants her to be his hero again. But of course, Karlo ruins the moment when he says he wants her to be a hero like she was "Before," as in, before she came to the defense of people like Donna Troy. Diana calmly, mercifully, refuses.

Karlo, of course, freaks out and reaffirms his unrelenting determination to hound Donna and the others, at which point Diana decides that, if Karlo wants Wonder Woman so badly, he can have her.

#3 Part 2 - Art by Luciano Vecchio

Diana has discarded her tools, her lasso, her arm bands, her shield, and her bandana, as she flies towards Clayface and jumps into his mouth. And since Diana was born from clay, that means Clayface has for all intents and purposes assimilated her.

Donna and the girls are horrified, but rather than fall apart at Diana's seeming demise, each one takes up one of Diana's discarded accouterments and prepares to fight Clayface. Meanwhile, Clayface is horrified at Diana's sacrifice and claims this isn't what he wanted, when Donna leads Cassie and the others in battle against the clay behemoth. Donna speechifies the mercy shown by Diana wasn't foolish, but made her all the things Donna wishes she herself could be.

Clayface asks what point is there to continue fighting now that Diana is gone, and at what kind of mercy the girls could possibly show on her behalf. The Black Eagle decides to reveal the true extent of Diana's mercy and, using the eagle amulet, unveils her true form as none other than Baroness Paula Von Gunther.

For those who didn't follow the previous volume, Von Gunther was one of the main villains of the previous "Bombshells" series, a Nazi sorceress and necromancer. Yet inbetween now and then, Von Gunther has become one of Diana's closest friends, and explains how it happened. And it seems Dawnstar was involved in the process.

The girls begin talking about the world going on, about compassion and forgiveness, and how it's time for Clayface to learn this lesson. As the ground around them begins to sparkle in the rain, Donna points out to Clayface he's now absorbed traces of silver from the mine in the area, and silver has the highest electrical conductivity of any metal. Donna and the girls are able to call down the lightning from the storm and, using Diana's tools, channel it towards him.

To Be Continued...


These two issues feel more like an actual movie serial from the 1940s, and I'm still loving everything about it even if Dawnstar's presence wasn't as big as I was expecting it to be.

The Story: Marguerite Bennett continues her discussion on cycles of abuse and prejudice, and Dawnstar's speech on the wronged forgiving their wrongdoers resonated to me on personal levels. See, in middle school, I was forced through a very traumatic experience, and the three kids who hurt me were never really punished for what they did. Instead, all they were forced to do was apologize, and I had to accept it. What happened to me had a very lasting, negative effect on how I acted, and I never got the help I needed until I was in my third year of college. Even beyond that, I've lived with people who've continuously hurt and abused me in some way, and I've always been expected to simply forgive them even when they do nothing to make up for their behavior. So the way Dawnstar puts it, that level of honesty, it makes me believe that my feelings are more valid than I give them credit for and it's something I think everybody should read.

In terms of the pacing, I felt the first half of the second issue was by far the more emotional and heavy part of the story, while the second half was lighter and more straightforward. Not really as engrossing as the first. In the third issue, I thought the conversation between Diana and Clayface was supposed to be commentary about how people continue to misunderstand Wonder Woman as a character and mischaracterize her as a "Strong female character" because she's so "Badass" and not because she's empowered by her compassion. God knows the New 52 take on Wonder Woman was a prime example of that. I like how Clayface isn't just a cardboard bad guy and has some signs of humanity, but he's clearly his own worst enemy as he refuses to give in whenever he doesn't get what he wants. That Donna and the girls quickly pick up where Diana left off after she sacrifices herself shows what an inspiration she is and now I wish Marguerite Bennett would write the Legion AND the Titans.

The Art: In sliding scale I feel Marguerite Sauvage and Luciano Vecchio were the best artists from each issue, whereas Siya Oum and Marcelo DiChiara were somewhat lacking. Not that there's anything wrong with DiChiara's artwork, but that Sauvage is a hard act to follow and the glaring contrasts of their styles can throw someone off. Oum, on the other hand, isn't as vibrant here as I've seen their past work and I have to wonder if that's because of the inker or colorist. I loved Vecchio's take on Donna Troy, which is no surprise because he's done a lot of Titans related artwork. The best parts were by far the segments Sauvage did with Dawnstar; they're simply stunning.

Dawnstar: Marguerite's managed to start establishing who and what Dawnstar is in this world and she's taking Dawny far beyond her established origins from the Legion comics. From as best I can tell, Dawnstar in this universe has the power to experience all her lives in other worlds and universes, and beyond being a tracker and flyer she's been given more offensives capabilities by manifesting creatures from pure stardust to fight and aid her. This is phenomenal because Marguerite's adding to Dawny in ways no other writer has before. I mean, let's face it, if there's ever been a problem with Dawnstar besides how often she gets shoehorned into the whole doomed romance thing with Wildfire, it's that she's severely lacking in offensive capabilities. This is a problem many of the female Legionnaires have had, in that the majority of them only ever had powers that were defensive or non-combat orieneted (Vi's shrinking, Shady's darkness projecting) so they had to compensate in ways to make up for that. Here, Dawny doesn't have to compensate for anything yet Marguerite remains true to Dawny's roots.

I want more more MORE and I hope you guys are giving this series a try as well.

  • This isn't the first time Wonder Woman's fought Clayface, the earliest battle may have been during Phil Jimenez's run on the title and it involved Donna Troy and the Titans.
  • Clayface's appearance is based off Matt Hagen from "Batman: The Animated Series," yet he's the Basil Karlo version while its implied by his mention of  "an old hot spring" that he gained his powers similar to the Silver Age Matt Hagen. Oh Clayface, why must you be so... muddled.
  • It's becoming increasingly apparent that if Paula Von Gunther is involved with Wonder Woman, she will at some point turn to the side of good. In most comics, Von Gunther's redemption occurred because Wonder Woman helped rescue her daughter Gerta. Here, Von Gunther was forced to experience first hand the misery she's helped inflict on countless innocents.

No comments:

Post a Comment