DC Comics Bombshells #7 collects the parts 19-21 of the digital-first series based on the popular DC Collectibles Bombshells statues.
The seventh issue begins the ‘Allies’ storyline. The story is written by Marguerite Bennett, and all three parts have art by Mirka Andolfo and Colors by Wendy Broome.
Part 1: Gotham City, 1940-The Smoak family is being evicted from their house by the landlord Quivelle, who says it is because of back rent, but it is really because the family was sheltering Jewish immigrants, and possibly because they were Jewish themselves. Before any more abuse can be dealt, three Batgirls arrive on the scene and rescue the family, while Quivelle sends an officer (who has been receiving money from Quivelle) after the girls and their Batmobile. Bette Kane witnesses the aftermath of the scene and a neighbor fills her in.
Officer Daniels catches up with two of the Batgirls and Harper recognizes him as the cop who took her brother Cullen to the Pinkney Orphanage after the Row siblings ran away. Harper realizes that if she can save a family she doesn’t know, then she has to rescue her brother. Kathy, the other Batgirl, takes Harper to her friend Alysia, who once was in Pinkney Orphanage but broke out. Alysia agrees, but only if she is allowed to be a member of the Batgirls as well.
Part 2: Pinkney Orphanage, Gotham City, 1940-The now-four Batgirls arrive at the Pinkney Orphanage, break in, and are greeted by Bette Kane in her costume, who somewhat explains her connection to the orphanage. It seems that the establishment is owned by the Kanes, but Bette doesn’t let on as to how she is connected to the Kane family. They all decide to work together, and as they move through the building, Bette becomes increasingly disturbed because of how rundown the building is despite the amount of money put into it.
The team runs across the Headmistress bullying Tim Drake, Alysia traps the Headmistress inside of a clock, and Tim fills the girls in on what is going on inside the orphanage. Harper and Cullen are reunited, and the Batgirls consider rescuing all the kids in the orphanage while investigating their claims that they have been used as laborers to build war machines for the Nazis. The Batgirls defeat the minor robots that they discover in the basement, but are soon greeted by the largest of them all, Moloch.
Part 3: Pinkney Orphanage, Gotham City, 1940-The Batgirls try to escape Moloch, but run into Headmistress Webb, a relative of the Kane family. The group is captured and Webb explains the reasons why the war machines were created, not for the Nazis, but the Axis as a whole, as they understand what it means to protect their country, and how the rest of the world is a menace to the homeland. ‘Keep America American!’ is her motto. While Webb monologues, the girls break out (with the help of a sharp shoe), defeat Moloch, the scientists, and Webb herself. Bette reveals her identity to the Batgirls, which in turn reveals that Kate is Batwoman.
Later, in front of Kane industries, Bette has turned 18 and now takes majority control of the Board of Directors. This make Quivelle upset, but Maggie Sawyer shows up and takes him in as she begins her investigation of bribery and corruption between the GCPD and local landlords. Bette begins looking for places for people to live who have been displaced by the war, as well as taking care of Gotham City natives who have no place to go. The Pinkney Orphanage is renovated, and a new Bat-family is formed.
This is perhaps the best issue of this series besides the first issue. So many factors go into this, but I have to say that definitely the art is a big reason why, since it is the first time in a while that we have seen three consecutive parts drawn and colored by the same group of creators, .
The story is what I perceive to be an interesting take on the Sons of Batman, which is a group seen in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The idea that someone has inspired a younger generation to take up the mantle is certainly not a new idea (as seen in the recent DC book We Are Robin), but it is different and even more wonderful because the inspiration was BatWOMAN! Given the ending, with presumably Batgirl uniforms being delivered to at least one person (Felicity Smoak), I am hoping that the roster stays small and does not turn into a We Are Robin feel. It is ironic, however, that since we are calling these teens Batgirls, that we do not see Barbara Gordon anywhere.
At first, I had some difficulty getting into the story since it was such a sudden change from the worldwide story and conflict of the previous issues. However, once you connect to the idea that this story showcases what the experience would be for some people who are on the periphery of the war but are still impacted by it, the story becomes real and emotionally strong. It is not only the story of what it would be like to live in the United States at the time of a World War, but it also showcases the anti-Semitism that occurred worldwide as well as racism that continues to this day. Bennett tackles these issues head-on while making them relate to a world of superheroes.
I found it interesting that the giant war machine was named Moloch, not only because of that name’s tie to the Old Testament, but also because of its connections to child sacrifices, something which figures into this particular story, in an oblique way. It is also a sinister character that made its way into the TV-show Sleepy Hollow, and I am wondering if there is a greater connection to the Tenebrae.
The characters keep on coming in this particular story, but here we are focusing on characters not considered ‘main’ within the Bat-universe. I was surprised to see Alysia, where I thought Cassandra Cain could have made an appearance, since she is so loved by fans. Cass is part-Chinese, so perhaps thought was given to Alysia’s nationality (could it be Japanese? or is it Vietnamese?) and that she would be a better fit given the times and themes. Frankie instead of Kathy, and Stephanie Brown could have also entered this universe, complementing Tim Drake and the other members of the mainstream DC Universe Bat-family. It was fun to see Felicity Smoak make an appearance in this story and universe, and it convinces me even more that this is a series for fans by a fan!
And while I do like that Cullen and Tim are brought into the Bombshells-fold, I do not think we need to weaken the female characters, however briefly, to prove that there are men afoot! Why does Harper call for her brother when she is in trouble, when she is there to rescue him and he couldn’t even save himself from Officer Daniels nor escape the orphanage on his own? It would have made more sense for Harper to call one of her female-companions for help!
I do have a problem with the lack of concern and protection of secret identities as seen throughout these three parts. Characters are easily revealed and even are so trusting as to say who they are and thus connect with another hero who is not even present. I do not think Kate would approve!
Finally, as a minor point, I found it really interesting that Bette says if Kate ‘has a failing…she’s careless with people. She’s careless with the people who love her.’ What a thought-provoking and insightful thing to say, and I wonder what the implications are surrounding this. Surely it means Bette to a certain extent, since Kate basically got rid of her as a sidekick, but it could also be talking about Kate’s relationship with Maggie, since she did leave her stateside.
Despite some minor story points that do not add positively to the overall presentation, this story is great, thoughtful, and consistent!