Monday, November 13, 2017

Bombshells United #4-5

Bombshells United #4-5:
American Soil Part 7-Conclusions
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: David Hahn, Pasquale Qualano, Siya Oum, Marcelo DiChiara
Colorist: J. Nanjan
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson, Emanuela Luppachino & Laura Martin
Editors: Kristy Quinn and Jessica Chen

So I was not aware ahead of time that this is the conclusion of the American Soil storyline. Once again I decided to combine the reviews for issues 4 and 5 since the physical Bombshells comics have been coming out so quickly.

The bulk of the story still focuses on Donna Troy and the Wonder Girls, but while Dawny's role isn't as big as Donna's, it's still pretty substantial and sets up possibilities for Dawny's place further in the series. From what I've seen on tumblr, she's definitely got a role to play after this story ends.

My final thoughts on this aren't as deep as the previous two issues. This was a straightforward ending but I think it lost a little steam, if only because of the art. I still enjoyed it and Bombshells remains one of the few DC titles to have kept my interest while Rebirth has kind of... languished, for lack of a better word.

"Hi everyone! Are you all cruising? This is Jude Deluca's..."

"A.K.A. Sarcasm Kid's..."


American Soil Part 7 - Art by David Hahn

Channeling the lightning and using the silver residue in the soil, Donna Troy, Cass Sandsmark, Emily Sung, and twins Yuki and Yuri are able to strike Clayface. Their energy burst is somehow able to harden and shatter his clay form, reverting him to normal Basil Karlo. Donna demands to know where Wonder Woman has gone after she sacrificed herself by flying into Clayface's body. Karlo stammers he only wanted Wonder Woman to "Come back to him" and be like it was before, but now she's gone. Baroness Paula Von Gunther is outraged and looks like she's about to kill Karlo, when Emily says Wonder Woman isn't gone.

Emily says Wonder Woman is in her, and in Donna, and the others. She calls Karlo out on his hypocritical regret; that he's sorry he hurt Wonder Woman yet didn't have a problem hurting Donna or the other internees. Emily spells it out how people misunderstand Wonder Woman, that the reason she has few enemies is because she does her best to make them her friends and allies. She makes them care about people. Cass steps in and suggests they do to Karlo what was done to Von Gunther, by using Vixen's amulet and Dawnstar's magic to make Karlo see himself for what he is and how things could have gone were he a different person.

We're treated to a two page spread, side by side, showing an honorable, upstanding Karlo who spoke out when people were mistreated due to their race, who questioned morally unjust orders from his superiors in the Army, and who saw and understood the kind of hero Wonder Woman was...

And the real Karlo, the one who helped gang up on an innocent man just because he was Asian American, who smirked while men screamed shameful things at young women, who gladly carried out his superior's twisted orders, and who objectified Wonder Woman and saw only what he wanted.

A chastened Karlo asks what he can do to change, or rather, to atone, now that Wonder Woman is gone. With only a shred of the magical properties taken from the clay, the girls attempt to transform Karlo into something better than he was before. Utilizing the magic channeled from Wonder Woman's garments, the silver fragments, the amulet, and Dawnstar's magic, it's not Karlo who transforms, but all five of the girls. The magic turns Karlo into a sterling silver version of his old, clay body, while Donna and the others are given new clothing and lassos made of silver. They have become a band of Wonder Girls.


American Soil Part 8 - Art by Pasquale Qualano

It's early morning in Los Angeles, and the citizens are waking up and doing their normal, morning routines. Up in the sky, Dawnstar soars alongside the eagles carrying the Wonder Girls and Clayface. The girls plan to do to the city as a whole what was done to Von Gunther and Clayface. Recognizing they cannot change human nature or force people to change, Donna and the others only wish to open the eyes and minds of the people of L.A. They want to show them the scope of their turning a blind eye to their neighbors who were arrested and interned.

Clayface's magically enhanced body, made up of the silver and clay and empowered by Dawnstar's stardust, is dropped into the city from the sky. Clayface's body spreads throughout not just the streets, but the water and the air itself and reaches many of the citizens. All at once, several people suddenly stop dead in their tracks and seem to come to some horrible realization. They start to describe a sort of out of body experience, how they saw themselves when their neighbors and friends were rounded up by the government yet did nothing to stop it from happening. Horrified by their lack of action, the people realize that their friends have been taken away, and that they chose to let it happen.

Donna appears before the regretful individuals, her former neighbors, and explains what they saw is a world shaped by their actions. Yet they were also allowed to see a world of second chances; a world they can change. On cue, the rest of Dawnstar's eagles bring back Donna's parents and the other citizens who were meant to be interred. As neighbors reunite, Donna explains that she and her family and the others were simply the first to be interred, but they have time to stop it from happening in other cities.

Unfortunately, the epiphany party is cut short when Dawnstar flies in and warns Donna of an approaching. In comes General Ulysses Armstrong, Clayface's acting superior, who is here to stop Donna and the Wonder Girls with his battalion of clay-empowered men.

Clayface is distraught, realizing he wasn't the only person who was reborn by the hot spring which gave him his powers, as Armstrong shows off his brand new Mud Pack.

American Soil Part 9 - Art By Siya Oum

Ulysses Armstrong orders his Mud Pack to engage the Wonder Girls and Clayface, asking what could a bunch of school girls do now that Wonder Woman is gone. The girls aren't impressed by the gooey, sloppy mess of men in front of them, and pour everything they've got into the regenerating infantrymen. Above, Dawnstar tries to plead with Armstrong that he open his eyes as the people of Los Angeles has, but he shoots her down with more clay.

As Donna catches Dawny, Clayface decides enough is enough and directs the former internees in Armstrong's path. While addressing his former senior officer as the man who ordered the internees detained, Clayface also owns up to his contribution to the plot. Donna's parents (whose last names turn out to be "Toroya") as well as the other internees join the fight. Clayface sweeps up the rest of the Mud Pack inside a veritable tornado of silver. Donna and the girls swing their lassos onto the swirling mass and manage to fish out the Mud Pack members.

Having tied up Armstrong and the rest, since they won't open themselves to love or compassion, Donna and the girls decide to make Armstrong's men be honest. They use the lassos to force all the mental bile and racist trash the Mud Pack believe come out, but at the same time it leaves them unable to hold onto the lies they told themselves to justify their actions. Similar to how Clayface was forced to see himself for what he really was, the Mud Pack are put through the same treatment of shame and regret. Humbled, the soldiers take their former general into their custody.

Donna sees her mother help up Dawnstar, and Donna is asking herself what a person would do if they were given a second chance, to leave their lives differently?

We say "Never again" how many times, but the time to make sure that comes true is right now.


American Soil Conclusion - Art By Marcelo DiChiara

Three weeks later, it seems the decision to inter Japanese American citizens has been overturned after General Armstrong was put on trial. Dawnstar (who is seen for the first time without her wings) congratulates Donna on how she has effectively created a brand new history. Dawny reminds Donna that in many other worlds (like ours) justice was never really fulfilled for those people. Donna remembers that Dawny's people were also victims of similar injustice, and promises that the Wonder Girls will now fight for their sake as well.

As Donna plans to give back Vixen's amulet, Dawny chooses now to explain her magic wasn't strong enough to reach out as many people as they did in Los Angeles. Neither was Clayface's. When Donna asks what actually did it then, Dawny says it was Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman, who was born of clay and returned to clay, her influence, her being, was also in the soil and clay that spread to the people of Los Angeles and opened their eyes. As Dawny puts it, Wonder Woman is now everywhere.

Donna, however, still distraught at Wonder Woman's sacrifice and what it meant for her, her friends, her family, and her people, goes to say a private goodbye. Donna goes to a statue the people of L.A. have erected in her honor and, despite knowing what she's done already, wishes it hadn't ended like this for Wonder Woman. Donna's tears land on the statue and seems to herald a thunderstorm. While people rush to get out of the rain, Donna continues to think "You get out of the soil what you put into it."

So, if Wonder Woman's essence was put INTO the soil...

Wonder Woman has, for all intents and purposes, been reborn in a way similar to how she was created. Born a clay figure brought to life by lightning and the will and love of her mother, she has been brought to life once more by lightning and the will and love of another. This time, Wonder Woman says she has been made in Donna Troy's image, her "Dark Star." She thanks Donna, and officially christens her "Wonder Girl."

Donna says now she and the rest have to continue what they've done on their own, for the sake of making sure history doesn't repeat itself. Wonder Woman says that now, if Donna needs her, she can call on her.

Life goes on, and the Wonder Girls are aiding the home front because there is still a war overseas to deal with.


The Story: The arc words for this tale are basically "You get out of the soil what you put into it" and it's repeated multiple times throughout the different segments. It all boils down to "You reap what you sow" or "Treat people as you want to be treated." It's pretty straightforward but Marguerite gets the job done. It all comes back to what Dawnstar was saying about the cycle of abuse: don't treat people the way you have been treated, but instead treat them how you want to be treated.

The method in which the heroes go about dealing with the villains is surprisingly original and makes it perfectly clear why simply using physicality isn't enough to stop things like this from happening. That is NOT to say people shouldn't fight back, but Donna and the others recognize that to truly win, they need to make their enemies understand on a mental and emotional level why their actions are wrong. And before you say, "They've been brainwashed," note they did the same thing to General Armstrong and the comic makes it blatantly clear he did NOT feel any remorse for what was attempted on the Japanese American citizens. So it goes, yes, some people aren't willing to change, but that doesn't speak for everyone.

The Art: I felt these issues were a bit emptier compared to the others, but I feel that was because of the art. I'm not saying Hahn, Oum, and the others aren't good artists, but when it came to the crowd scenes I felt they were seriously lacking and did an injustice to the story. This is all about the effects of Dawnstar's and Wonder Woman's magic on the people of L.A., but we're only shown a real handful of people have been touched. Likewise, when Armstrong's men show up, there's only a handful of the internees who show up to fight. Qualano was by far the best because his take on Dawnstar was superb.

Dawnstar: Slowly we're getting more a feel about who and what Dawnstar is in this universe. It appears she doesn't always have her wings, but we aren't told if that's because her wings are artificial, or if she can make them disappear at will. Since Donna and Wonder Woman were the main focus, Dawnstar didn't function as much beyond a supporting character, but the seeds have been sown and time will tell what Dawny has to offer for the future of the Bombshells lines.

...crap now I'm disappointed she never got a Bombshells variant cover like the other characters did.

Trivia/Mythology Gags:
  • Wonder Woman becoming Donna's "Twin" refers to the original Wonder Girl's creation as a living reflection of Diana from home movies of her youth. Back in the '90s, John Byrne tried to simplify Donna's backstory by restoring the "Living reflection" origin... yet forgot he had to make it work with Donna's status as one the "Titan Seeds" and her being adopted by the Hinckley Family. Let this be a lesson to NEVER LET JOHN BYRNE HANDLE ORIGIN RETCONS.
  • The "Dark Star" phrase is a reference to Donna's brief period as a member of the Darkstars in the '90s when she lost her powers as Troia. In "Kingdom Come," her son Robbie inherited the mantle.
  • Ulysses Armstrong is a Batman villain known as "The General," an overly smart sociopathic brat with an interest in war games. Also at some point he, I don't know, he stole the Red Robin identity for a while before he became the new Anarky while fighting Tim Drake. Oh and he accidentally killed his younger siblings. He recently appeared in Detective Comics Rebirth as an ally to Batwoman's father.
  • The Mud Pack was the name of one of my favorite Batman storylines, which featured the first four versions of Clayface teaming up (though in Preston Payne's case he was mindcontrolled and Matt Hagen was dead). The story had Basil Karlo finally gaining superpowers and becoming "THE ULTIMATE CLAYFACE" while Preston and Shondra Fuller fell in love.
  • Donna briefly had a silver lasso in the regular DCU, though it was called a "Lasso of Persuasion" and would force people bound by it to submit to her will. Unfortunately this was during *ugh* James Robinson's god awful JLA run so I'm not entirely familiar with how Donna used it.

1 comment:

  1. I am always amazed when someone remembers Donna was a Darkstar for a while.