The past three weeks been difficult. The rise of white supremacy, the recent rescinding of DACA, and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have made immigrant and Latinx populations the most vulnerable we have seen in recent history. US history, however, does have a time when the government created even worse atrocities on American soil. That time was World War II, when the United States interned between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry.
It would be naive to think that a literal Wonder Woman could save the day then or now; however, we as citizens have the power to be heroes. Which is why it is refreshing to see DC Comics new Bombshells comic take a page from history in order to talk about the issues of immigration. In Bombshells United: American Soil, Wonder Woman works as a tool for three young immigrant activists to fight against the Japanese internment camps and racism during World War II.
The story is scarily relevant — however, when writer Marguerite Bennett was first developing the story, she didn’t know exactly how relevant it would become. It seems art is imitating life, while also repeating history. “I’ve been planning on this story for such a long time,” Bennett. “When I originally was hoping to highlight this historical event, it was not nearly as urgent as it later became.”
As Marguerite Bennett and artist Marguerite Sauvage continued to write and shape these stories, current events became an inspiration and found their way into being a highlight of the story. “Current events definitely heartened me, and it became such an adamant thing, where I had to tell the story because it’s so relevant right now,” said Bennett. “I didn’t set out to write something so on the nose, it just sort of seems the events of the world pushed us in that direction.”
One major event that really inspired Marguerite to write on Japanese internment camps was the lack of information in her younger cousin’s textbooks: Japanese internment camps weren’t covered. When Bennett asked for her older cousin’s textbook, she saw it was missing there, too. “As we get older and as we move farther and farther from the war, this generation is beginning to lose the generation that survived this,” said Bennett. “The idea that their story would somehow remain less relevant, or that their experiences would fade off was horrifying.” Bennett wanted to use a platform that would allow her to focus on the events of World War II, and return it to the public consciousness as much as she could.
Although this new issue of Bombshells is marked as number one, it is not the first Bombshells book. The first Bombshells came out in 2015; Bombshells: Enlisted, and that series lasted 33 issues. Due to popular demand, Bennett was given the opportunity to relaunch the series with a whole new storyline. With this gift, she choose to refocus the piece on the conceit of “second chances." “If you had a second chance to go back through the cultural and social memory of your country, and to do it better this time, to do it right this time, what would you do?” said Bennett.
One of the most important aspects for Bennett in this revisiting of our historical and cultural memory was making sure the Bombshells are not white saviers. The central characters are three teenage girls who are working to save their community. The story take a tone much closer to reality, and the quality of fusing reality and fantasy has always been one of the signature styles of DC Comics.
“If you notice in the very first episode with Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman never speaks,” says Bennett, “The entire plan belongs to the girls. It’s their community, it’s their home. Wonder Woman is quite literally a instrumental, in that she is their instrument to execute their plan.”
The comic blends these three non-superwomen with the Bombshell heroes we have all come to know and love: Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Supergirl, Zatanna, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Episodes one and two only feature Wonder Woman, but the other Bombshells will definitely make an appearance. Episode one also has a very special appearance from a less popular, yet equally important DC character, Dawnstar. Bringing in Dawnstar, a Native American heroine from the DC canon, as one of the central heroes makes the story even more compelling. Having a diverse cast of characters was important to Bennett, and Dawnstar is proof she is keeping to her vision.
The heroines of the story though, are the three immigrant girls: Cassie, Yuki, and Yuri. All three of them come from different ethnic backgrounds, but they share a similar story. “I wanted the girls to be from an array of the immigrant community,” said Bennett, “it was important for us to bring in some elements of the history that were overlooked, and speak to a broader pattern.”
It is these subtle yet important details that makes Bombshells so relevant. Bennett is not afraid to talk about not only immigration, but race, too. The comic doesn’t hold back when comes to the issue of race, and as our obsession with the “right” kind of immigrant.
Bombshells is a comic of our time, and for our time. Bennett works to give a voice to marginalized communities and empowers them by making them central to the story.
“It is still an adventure, and it is something I hope is a call to action,” said Bennett. “As much as it is fun, exciting, shocking, or scary.”
Images courtesy DC Comics
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Isabel Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow her on twitter @isabelsdieppa