Marguerite Bennett Talks DC Bombshells Annual #1 and Adding Two Major New Bombshells

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(Photo: DC Entertainment)

It's August 31, and it's a Wednesday. What does that mean? Why, a fifth week, of course!

And, just as it's been for as long as I can remember, DC and Marvel Comics stock up their fifth weeks with one-shots, annuals, comics that have been running late, and other such goodies to entice you back to the store even though none of your regular monthly (or in DC's case, twice-monthly) issues are shipping this week.

One such annual this week is DC Bombshells Annual #1, which you should not miss. Apart from being a fun-as-hell story, it introduces a pair of new Bombshells and features a twist ending to die for.

Writer Marguerite Bennett joined ComicBook.com to discuss the issue, which is available for pre-order on ComiXology, or you can get a copy tomorrow morning at your local comic shop.

I know that the big thing is, this issue features two new Bombshells with Vampire Batgirl and then Enchantress. Is it exciting after working with this series for so long that you still get to do these major infusions of cool, new energy all the time?

Yeah, absolutely. One of the great things about the DC Universe honestly is that it's the gift that keeps on giving. There are so many heroines — even A-list heroines like Canary that we haven't even had a chance to touch yet.

When we started, we thought there was a possibility we could get cancelled at like issue #6 [laughs], so there was this big temptation to kind of dump the toy box out and play with all the toys, but I was cautiously optimistic that we'd get a long run with this, and so I wanted to make sure that if we did, we had the opportunity to have infusions of new blood right up to the very end.

You never know if we have a curveball coming, who might appear, or some new arc or some new crisis. The Collectibles Department have been so fantastic and so amazing. Every time I'm like "Can we put this character in? What if we put this character in?" They come up with something great and we're just super lucky.

And you had asked them to come up with a design for Enchantress specifically for this story. What was that like?

It was wonderful. I got to come to the offices and talk fashion with Jim Fletcher for an hour, which is delightful. My editor gave me a meeting with Jim and some other guys from the DC Collectibles department. I actually gave them kind of a list of characters, and I can't reveal which ones you're going to see, talking about Enchantress, which we wanted to be to be the first character who we knew what her role was going to be before she was designed.

In the past what I've done is I've taken Ant Lucia's amazing designs and I've kind of retro-engineered their backstories and their role in the Bombshells Universe based on those designs. This was the first time that I knew where Enchantress was going to be here, I knew what arc I wanted her to be, and that influenced what her design was — kind of the coy, teasing witch from the 1940s and from all the greeting cards. I cannot wait to see the Enchantress cosplayers!

Jim Fletcher was sketching during our meeting. He already had his pencil going, and he really masterminded The Enchantress's design for us.

Can you talk about the use of music in this issue? I feel like it's a difficult trick to pull off, but you did it pretty well.

Thank you kindly! I am nothing if not ambitious, haha. I love music and songs and poetry and ballads, but melody is a medium I can't translate well to contribute to the feel and universe of the Bombshells.

So much of the aesthetic of the era is defined by its music, and so I try, to the best of my ability, to have some semblance of song throughout — whether an evil invocation, an Irish legend, a swing number, or, in this case, a love song.

The use of the record player to give the myth of the Batgirl felt more organic and interesting than someone delivering exposition, and made it more intimate and romantic, I feel, and I hope readers feel that way as well.

Threading music through a comic can often be a tricky proposition. Do you have any favorite books that have successfully done it in the past?

Oddly, poetry more than music is what comes to mind. I think of Alan Moore's lines in the pirate chapters of Watchmen ("I tread a lurching timber world: a reeking, salt-caked hell; and yet, perhaps, no worse a world than yours, where bishops stroll through charnel yards with pomanders to smell; where vile men thrive and love crawls on all fours") and of the lyricism of Gaiman's Sandman ("I give you coin I made from a stone. I give you a song I stole from the dirt. I give you a name, and the name is lost") are formative—but honestly, I was reading Nabakov too young and could've imprinted on rhythm and wordplay in lots of places.

I like the cadence and occultism of poetry and song. I put songs everywhere in my comics. Probably...too many.

How involved are you in the design? Usually that would feel like an artist question, but this book has had multiple artists but one you.

The artists are far more to credit than I am! Ant Lucia's exquisite designs were there before all the rest of us—I retro-engineered story from all his powerful, glamorous, glorious reimaginings.

In some cases, like the Batgirls, I communicated with Ant and Mirka Andolfo what I hoped to see in each of the team, and they designed them beautifully. In other cases, I will go to Jim Fletcher of DC Collectibles and tell him the heroine I have in mind to introduce, the WWII archetype I think would be compatible, and he dazzles me with his designs.

Sometimes—such as with Elsa Charretier's Frankie Charles--I will send reference photos to the artist introducing the new heroine, explaining what I have in mind, but the execution is all them. Frankie in particular came from a photo I'd seen of black female West Point grads, and the image struck such a powerful, passionate chord.

Together, we build the Bombshells universe, but I'm the passive party. The artists--like Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, and Marguerite Sauvage--are the ones who give it the courage and depth and reality.

Are those H-Dials that are used to open the vault?

They are a very fun Easter egg for a comic I loved. I miss Dial H For Hero very much. I hope to see more of them, if we have a place to explore their complete magical mystical potential, haha. (Particular shout-out for China Miéville's New 52 run, dead before its time.)

What have you got coming down the pike for the main Bombshells book? I know you're just getting into a new arc.

Yes! Our new arc takes us into the North Africa theater, and we're off on a very bombastic adventure led by Vixen, Batwoman, Renee Montoya, Hawkgirl, and Catwoman, as they race Cheetah for an ancient weapon.

This arc may be a good jumping-on point for new readers—we intercut from past to present, and the action and adventure is very much Indiana Jones meets Pacific Rim.

There's a bit of an unexpected twist right toward the end of this book. How did you decide on what you wanted to do to wrap up this story?

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Hilariously, I knew that was what I wanted before I even began, haha! One thing with Bombshells is that the story keeps going forward—paths continue to cross, characters keep fighting, going throughout the world, even when they are not on the page.

We have several more years of war ahead of us, and several more heroines will have their due. We'll see more of this new development in special issues, and these characters will play a big role in a massive story to come.