DCC Showcase – Marguerite Sauvage & DC Bombshells
I have been waiting since before I started writing Graphic Reviews to be able to attend the Denver Comic Con (living at the opposite end of the state made that a bit more difficult than it is now) and I’m very excited to announce that I will be attending the con on behalf of Aeither.net and Graphic Reviews! Given that, I thought this month would be the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the creators who will be at DCC this year. This week, Graphic Reviews will be taking a look at the DC Bombshells series and Marguerite Sauvage, a Vancouver illustrator who, besides DC Bombshells, has worked on a number of comic book series including: Faith, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman. Red Sonja and Hinterkind. Ms. Sauvage did not illustrate all of DC Bombshells so I will be discussing both the series at large and in particular Ms. Sauvage’s work on it. DC Bombshells is essentially an Elseworlds (AKA alternate universe/history) story taking place in the 1930’s and 40’s and readers will recognize many familiar faces. As the name implies, the series focuses on the women of DC and their involvement in the years leading up to the second World War. The series is written by Marguerite Bennett and is illustrated by a diverse team including Marguerite Sauvage, Ming Doyle, Laura Braga, Ant Lucia, Elizabeth Torque and Mirko Andolfo. The series began in 2015 and is still ongoing with issue #46 due tomorrow!
DC Bombshells is a blast from the past with a remarkably refreshing take on many classic DC heroines and even anti-heroines. In an effort to help fight the war on behalf of the Allies, Commander Amanda Waller (who some readers may recognize from Suicide Squad and other DC events) is putting together a team of female superheroes and vigilantes to fight against the dark forces with whom the Axis powers have allied themselves. The story begins with Kate Kane (AKA Batwoman) who (despite the less socially accepted environment of the forties) is living with her partner Margaret Sawyer in Gotham and is one of the stars of the local women’s baseball team. Ms. Kane is hardly the type to sit on the sidelines and her vigilante activity outside of the game inspires a new wave of Batgirls in Gotham City to take up the mantle even after the Batwoman is roped into Commander Waller’s schemes. Along with Kate, Diana (Wonder Woman), two Soviet teens Kara and Kortni (Supergirl and Stargirl, respectively), Mera (Aquawoman) and a number of other characters are drawn into the fight against a Lovecraftian darkness which has promised the Axis great power in a very dark bargain.
Bennett, Sauvage and company have pulled in virtually every DC heroine I know of (and a few I had to look up) into this story and the alternate takes on these characters are just fantastic. While the story is fun, the characters definitely dominate this series and the representations of Kate Kane, Selina DiGatti (I feel like I don’t need to spell that one out for you) and Harley Quinn were particularly impressive. While a few are a bit boring (Wonderwoman and the Soviet girls especially), most of the women in the series are exactly the kind of kickass women that I love seeing in comics and particularly in a story involving superheroes. None of these women are okay with sitting on the sidelines and many have their own unique way of dealing with the often terrible things that are happening around and to them. Because I’m rather partial to them, I want to point out two in particular whom I absolutely adored: Kate Kane and Harley Quinn.
I really appreciated that the creators involved in this series did not shy away from Kate’s sexuality despite the time period. For as long as I’ve known about the character, Kate Kane’s sexuality has been an intriguing part of her character. It’s not often that you see a lesbian superheroine, after all. What I liked best about Bennett and Sauvage’s take on her however was that Kate’s relationship with Margaret Sawyer focused on their loving, complicated relationship rather than just the sex between them. Kate is a rebellious woman and I liked how the creators showed her occasional carelessness of people she loved, it took her down to a human level that you don’t often see. As a Jewish lesbian, Kate is doubly determined to take Hitler out of power and her drive for justice made her both understandably reckless and also difficult not to admire.
I am perfectly willing to admit that I have an enormous soft spot for Ms. Harleen Quinzel so I may be a bit biased but I absolutely adored how Harley was represented in the Bombshells series. When she’s initially introduced, Harley is a psychiatrist working in an asylum in London. After being informed of a vision of her ex-beau Joker by one of her patients, Harley snaps and rockets her way to France (and I do mean that literally). That transition from sweet, helpful doctor Harleen to brash, adorably chaotic Harley is perfectly well done and I absolutely adored the way that Poison Ivy was brought into Harley’s path. It worked perfectly with both of their characters and with their history in particular. Bennett and company absolutely do Harley Quinn justice in a way that is altogether too rare.
I’m honestly not sure that DC and the powers that be could have made a better choice than Marguerite Sauvage to start off the illustrations for the Bombshells series. While other artists do pick up the work later in the series, Ms. Sauvage’s style is a perfect initial fit for the tone of the series. She’s worked in a number of fields outside of the comic book industry and she has a unique style that I found to be instantly recognizable. Ms. Sauvage tends towards beautifully simple lines and a very effective use of color so that the reader isn’t bombarded with a lot of unnecessary detail. It’s more…abstract and very reminiscent of the kind of classy advertising art that I would instantly connect with the forties. Given that she does all of the art (illustrations, linework and coloring) the first issue, I was extremely impressed with her use of color. She consistently made Kate Kane’s signature red hair stand out so much that you couldn’t help but constantly have your eyes drawn toward it. Both her simple but very classy illustrations and the effective coloring contrast work made the introduction to the series incredibly compelling. Throughout the other issues in which she has a hand, that same style is both instantly visible and contributes to the greatness of the series. I am very much looking forward to hearing from her at DCC as I think she’s an artist to admire and keep an eye on in the future! If you attend DCC, make sure you check out any panels or displays she’s involved in!
This has been one of the longer Graphic Reviews articles, largely because I wanted to particularly point out Sauvage’s work as well as the series itself. DC: Bombshells is the kind of kickass, feminist story that I have wanted to see in the DC universe for a very long time. I don’t mind that it’s essentially an Elseworlds story by another name, it’s truly wonderful to see all of these unique female characters being represented so well as individuals and as a team. Bennett, Sauvage and the rest of the team deserve major kudos for bringing both the alternate timeline and the characters to such vivid life. Not all of them are as well-rounded as others but I’m very impressed with the series and really look forward to seeing more of both Bombshells and Marguerite Sauvage’s future endeavors. This is a must-read for any other DC fans who want to see the women take the limelight and honestly a great series for anyone who loves superheroes, action and adventure!