Marguerite Bennett is a comics superstar, one of the biggest names at DC who inspires a loyal and loving following that stands out in comics fandom. We sat down with her at SDCC to talk about Batwoman and the impact of her femme alt-universe WWII comic, DC Comics: Bombshells.
A lifelong comics fan, Bennett was a student when she first heard about the modern Batwoman's debut. "I was in high school when Batwoman was introduced by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III," she said with enthusiasm. "I still remember being in Subway when it was announced. We were sitting down eating lunch and it made the news. 'Oh, Batman's lesbian cousin!' So everyone was very excited."
As is the way with comics, not everyone was happy with the news. "There was this guy who was talking the sandwich artist's ear off and saying, 'That character's not a lesbian. I could tell if she was a lesbian!'" Bennett said. "And I was like, 'It's now my mission to one day fuck up your life, son.' And here we are."
Getting the chance to write Kate Kane was a huge honor for Bennett, who saw the character as a defining part of her comics fandom. She said, "I would've laid down money that my life would never have come anywhere close to this reality, and I'm so blessed and so grateful and so humble."
In contrast to Batwoman, Bennett finds it surprising that it's her other book--the soon-to-relaunch DC Comics: Bombshells--which has really opened up the conversation about radical politics in comics. "If keeping genocide from happening is politically radical, I guess," she pondered. "But I never went out with the intention of doing that."
Coming from a family of history teachers--Bennett's mother, father, and stepmother all taught the subject--has influenced her storytelling choices. "We went through fairytales, we ran out of fairytales," Bennett said. "We went through mythology, we ran out of mythology. My dad would tell us Twilight Zone episodes as bedtime stories and then we ran out of those. So they started telling us things out of history. I was steeped from a very young age in the idea that everything comes around again. You think that where you are has nothing to do with the past? You couldn't be more wrong!"
This formative education had a huge impact on Bennett, and especially on Bombshells. "It was absolutely this idea that you can't divorce yourself from the realities of your history and your culture and what brought you and your people to this point and beyond," she said, expanding on her upbringing. "One of the things about the relaunch of the Bombshells series is to specifically explore the self mythologizing of America. You know, if you had a chance to do something differently, what would you have done? Would you go back and make it right knowing what you know now?"
As a queer creator making comics, Bennett has put out some of the most vividly queer books that the Big Two have ever seen, and she's stoked about it. "It's really freaking cool," she said. "It's a total honor, and DC has been nothing but supportive. With Bombshells, I felt like I was getting away with murder after a while."
She continued, "We were GLAAD-nominated and the people at DC were nothing but encouraging when I told them what I wanted to do and the universe I wanted to build. It's been fantastic. And Bombshells? Well, I just have so much fun writing that book."
The new Bombshells comics will continue alongside DC Super Hero Girls as a digital first, meaning that it'll be an online only-comic on release. Bennett describes the original run--already completed on comiXology and soon to finish in print--as "an alternate history of WWII where the women came first and where no heroine is derivative of a male counterpart." She added, "On the very first page we see the Wayne family drawn by Marguerite Sauvage. Suddenly, Joe Chill jumps out and crashing down from above comes Batwoman out on patrol. She saves them and Bruce Wayne has a happy childhood!"
The new series will spin out from this Batman-less universe. "It'll come out in these 10 page chapters," Bennett said. "You check in on different heroines and they begin to come together and coalesce and form these teams. We'll see these different theaters of war from Berlin to North Africa to the Eastern Front to the home front. So with each heroine, we're trying to create a different genre and make the world feel complete. With Batwoman we have this cheesy radio adventure reel, with Supergirl it's a propaganda film, with Wonder Woman it's a war story, with Zatanna it's this black and white Hammer horror thing, and with Aquaman it's a romance. So what I'm hoping is that there'll be something for everybody!"
Have you already fallen in love with DC's Bombshells? Can't wait for this brand new series? Adore Bennett and are just desperate for more? Let us know in the comments!