The Second World War plays out very differently in DC Entertainment's fan-favorite Bombshells mythology, which places the company's heroines in an alternate version of the 1940s conflict. Initially launched as a line of statues in 2013, the brand has grown to include a clothing line, trading cards and its own ongoing comic book, amongst other products. This month, DC celebrates the Bombshells with The Art of DC Comics Bombshells, a hardcover collection of concept artwork for the line, with commentary from the artists themselves, as well as others involved in the property.
"I had no idea it was going to blow up the size that it did," DC Collectibles' Jim Fletcher - who originated the project - tells Heat Vision. "We'd been wanting to do this project for awhile [but] I'm actually glad that we waited to launch it. The timing just seemed to be perfect and so many people gravitated towards it. There's so much Bombshells out there - it's at Hot Topic, there are glasses, beach towels, there's posters, magnets, bobble heads. There's a ton of stuff, and we're just happy that the women of the DC universe could be represented this way and still resonate with people in such a great fashion."
As The Art of DC Comics Bombshells explains, the project took years to come to fruition - Fletcher originally had the idea in 2009, but it wasn't until 2011 when work started in earnest, with the addition of artist and character designer Ant Lucia, who imbued the heroes with a retro playfulness that played into the 1940s pinup art inspiration without downplaying the strength of the characters.
"We wanted to make sure that they were always in control of what they're doing, that they're not just sex bombs," Fletcher remembers. "Sure, they are 'bombshells,' like the old 1940s stuff, but a lot of those poses were much more exploitative than these are, and we wanted to get away from that while maintaining the full playfulness of that material."
"Honestly, going off of Jim and Ant Lucia's wonderful designs, that was really something that drew me to the artwork from the very beginning - the sense of personhood in every single character," Marguerite Bennett, who has been writing the DC Comics Bombshells comic book since its launch in mid-2015, says. "There wasn't just a standard model; Wonder Woman has this sense of power and joy and liberation in her design, but Zatanna has a sense of cleverness and mischief, or Poison Ivy with a sensuality that is true to that character. Every character is drawn and designed with a sense of self, they're not just plugged into a fantasy. They have personalities, and personhood. They feel real."
That sense of verisimilitude is one of the primary appeals of the brand, which was quickly adopted by cosplayers and fans following the initial wave of statue releases in 2013. Another lure, however, is the variety of characters showcased in both statue and comic book form. Bombshells doesn't just feature the big names - there is space for people of color and queer characters as well, which sadly remains unusual in the superhero genre.
"We're always looking to diversify our character mix," Fletcher said. "We have, of course, a long history of characters that everybody knows, but when you dig down a little deeper, there're some really interesting characters like Bumblebee and Vixen. The Batwoman statue, for us, did huge numbers that we weren't expecting. The design was really fun, and that was a piece that made us go, 'wow.' This wasn't an A-list character for DC Collectibles, but it really blew the doors off and made us realize we could expand the line."
For Bennett, the chance to add more diversity to the Bombshells mythology was simply common sense. "I'm a queer woman so I like writing queer women," she laughed. "It's one of the privileges and also pressures of the book. I want to go everywhere, I want to show everything. We have all these different heroines, and I want to tell all these different stories with them. In that capacity, there's all this freedom [as a writer], but there's also a sense of, 'Lord, I wish I had ten other titles every month!' "
The future of the Bombshells brand looks bright; in addition to the Art of DC Comics Bombshells hardcover, there will be a line of DC Comics Bombshells action figures released in 2017, as well as the first Vixen statue in the line, which will be available for preorder Nov. 18. (Images and designs for the statue, below, are from the Art hardcover.)
"Vixen's on TV now, she's showed up on Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow [but] she's really been underrepresented in our [collectibles] line," Fletcher said of the newest addition to the line. "It was way overdue that we did something else with her."
Looking ahead, Fletcher said, "there's so many directions we can go with this. There are so many other people still jumping on board to do stuff, but for DC Collectibles, we're going to be concentrating on the action figures and statues going forward, and supporting Marguerite and what she's doing on the book. We've already thrown a couple of men into the mix - the Joker, and a mustachioed Superman - and we're going to be added a couple, and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out." Bennett laughed at the idea, calling it "The Bombshells and the beefcakes!"
The Art of DC Comics Bombshells will be released Nov. 23.