Review by Ian Keogh
As has been customary from the second volume, the opening story of Queens takes a break from the big action overseas to catch up with the Batgirls of Gotham in 1941. They dealt with the Penguin and his allies in Uprising, but there’s someone who feels they didn’t go far enough, so in a nice twist their task becomes to protect the villains from someone worse.
Uprising introduced the Bombshells versions of the Question and Vixen, but only in passing. Queens explores their past, and how that’s relevant to their roles in this version of World War II. Much of the action is set in the fictional African kingdom of Zambesi, ruled by Vixen, and Bennett introduces a pulp feel to proceedings by mixing magic with mechanical animals and having Hawkgirl as an all purpose electronic technician able to whip up fantastic devices very rapidly.
Bennett’s imagination results in a scene of Hitler’s Dog being abducted, and there are plenty of other fine touches showcasing her subtle approach to conveying information. One character receives a number of letters from her homeland, and each is bloodier than the previous communication, indicating the deteriorating state of that country. However, not everything is as subtle. Hawkgirl as a verbal version of QI is meandering, and eventually annoying, preachy and out of place, but to balance this, the eventual revelations as to her skills is characteristic of Bennett’s clever plotting. Another problem is over-compensation for years of DC under-representing the gay and lesbian community among their pantheon of characters. The past was wrong, but versions of DC characters where the number of women attracted to women outnumbers those attracted to men undermines credibility.
The art is great throughout as it has been since the start, despite the large number of contributing artists, with Mirka Andolfo and Laura Braga responsible for the most chapters. Every consecutive book, however, turns up someone new and impressive, and this time it’s Richard Ortiz (sample page), illustrating the back story of the woman who becomes the Cheetah. He’s got a wonderful sense of layouts, and there’s no skimping on background detail. Also new is Matías Bergara, who illustrates one of the more spiritual chapters requiring some representational art, and combines that with some loose cartooning reminiscent of that seen on French albums from the likes of Olivier Vatine.
Notwithstanding the quibbles mentioned, Queens is better than average superhero material, and the attention shifts back to Russia in The Death of Illusion.