Review by Ian Keogh
This is the final volume of DC Comics Bombshells, so Marguerite Bennett ties up her plots set in the Soviet Union during this alternate version of World War II. Don’t worry, the series is a success and the continuity has only reached 1942, so the spotlight switches to the war on the home front in a new series, Bombshells United.
The Death of Illusion gave us the formation of the Suicide Squad, and that’s where War Stories opens, with Marguerite Bennett neatly tying up Barbara Gourdon’s story and returning a threat from earlier in the series. There’s a clever twist, Aneke’s art (sample spread left) is fabulous, and Bennett even manages to introduce a new threat from the ashes, so all in all, very satisfying.
We’re then back to the Soviet Union, where Bennett sifts chapters giving the backgrounds of her cast between those moving the present day narrative forward. As that concerns a major battle for control of Leningrad it could, under lesser hands, become a frustrating experience, but the backstories provided ensure it’s compelling instead as we look at one character after another. Last time there was a revelation about Killer Frost, who’s no mere supervillain for hire, and Bennett fleshes that out into a triumvirate of power, each of which could gravely affect a world already in turmoil. A couple of other people who’ve been foreshadowed along the way also turn up in Russia along with a new major player.
Harley Quinn acquired a circus in The Death of Illusion, which isn’t as trivial as might be assumed, because it not only fits her eccentric character, but it makes for some fantastic visuals that all artists exploit to the full. Laura Braga gets to pitch them into battle, and Richard Ortiz is good depicting the calm before the storm. Mirka Andolfo, Carmen Carnero (sample spread right) and Sandy Jarrell have all produced quality work before and do so again as Bennett escalates the tension with every chapter as she flies at bullet speed to the conclusion.
Bennett reinforces that while these doppelgangers are fundamentally the same personalities as their equivalents in the main DC universe, there are differences, and that ensures there’s a constant tension. A possible killer weapon was introduced in The Death of Illusion, and by the end it’s apparent Bennett is also toying with real world allegory. Will the equivalent of the bomb be dropped when the moral cost is immense? At times Bennett is a little too glib with laying on the sorrow and recovery from it, but that’s to do with the original format of weekly online publication, and that apart is a series notable for the way personalities are defined beyond their powers. It’s also been nice to see a reversal of the usual token woman in superhero teams, and DC Comics Bombshells has been fun from start to finish. Bennett also writes the subsequent Bombshells United, so the omens are good for that.