Review: Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1
It’s not every day you see a comic book open with a quote from Hannah Arendt, the famous American-German political thinker and author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. That last tidbit of information about Arendt is important to understand the type of satire Jimmie Robinson goes for in Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1. It’s biting and completely uninterested in criticizing anything in a politically correct way. But criticism is the goal and it doesn’t lose sight of it. In a sense, it’s a kind of book we’re seeing less and less of today.
This new limited series follows the titular supervillain, Bomb Queen, as she joins the 2024 presidential campaign against Donald Trump. Taking a page from Nixon in Watchmen, Trump is flirting with the idea of making the presidency a life-long term and that quite simply does not fly with New Port City’s superhero community. Bomb Queen is forcefully recruited by one particular superhero to run against Trump and then, once she’s won, resign to the position so that the superhero that recruited her becomes president instead.
This first issue is quite accessible and easy enough to follow, but there are a ton of callbacks to the previous limited series and one-shots as well (the comic was first published in 2006). Bomb Queen was the leader of New Port City and basically acted as a dictator that was reckless but reliable. No one ever doubted she would continue being a super villain and so people trusted her to be just that all the time.
In other words, Bomb Queen was the Trump of New Port City, a point the comic literally argues in one sequence. The superhero community’s plan is to fight fire with fire and then course correct. It’s basically a look at Totalitarianism and how it works, albeit with a more fast-paced, bloody, and sexed up mindset.
The basis for the satire is clear and quite ‘in your face.’ What transpires is a smart but often crude way of broaching the idea people want to view their leaders as superheroes or super villains, expecting them to act accordingly. It can remind one of Garth Ennis’ The Boys, specifically in terms of how power creates irresponsible God-like beings that want nothing more than to flaunt their abilities publicly, shamelessly, and without restraint.
What sets Bomb Queen apart from The Boys is that Jimmie Robinson’s satire is more down to Earth. While The Boys looks more closely at the nature of super people and plays around with comic tropes more intently, Bomb Queen takes it down to the streets without room for subtlety (much less than in Ennis’ book and even that one can’t be said to have much regard for it either).
As is the case in earlier Bomb Queen books, this new story features random New Port citizens sounding off on Bomb Queen’s candidacy. Opinions vary among them, with some saying things along the lines of “if Trump can insult people, then why can’t Bomb Queen do so as well?” or “we already have a villain in the White House. What’s wrong with having a super villain instead?”
The exchanges are absurd, fun, rough, but smartly presented and come off as not so far fetched as those found in the real world. In Bomb Queen’s America, satire is the status quo, an inside joke everyone’s in on. That American society has taken such a turn for the ridiculous that we’ve managed to actually put a super villain in the White House is perhaps the bigger point Robinson wants to make here.
And yet, Bomb Queen isn’t for everyone. The character’s barely-there outfit is also part of the satire, but it alludes to other things explored previously in the series. Some may find the design exploitative and out of touch, but it’s not without its purpose. Again, political correctness is not a concern for Robinson, and sometimes it feels as if he actively attempts to get under the reader’s skin. Having said that, an update for the purposes of discourse could’ve made the comic even more accessible.
Robinson seems to like to turn his villainess into a mirror for our own inadequacies and inconsistencies. Expect 90’s era style jokes and visual gags that aren’t looked favorably upon today, but also expect them to be in response to something specific and not just for the sake of gratuity. What lands in Robinson’s crosshairs tends to be worthy of the criticism Bomb Queen provides.
Bomb Queen’s Trump-like behavior in past events makes her an interesting example of villainy to bounce off of. The idea of making a Trump-like villain run against the actual Trump is a fascinating one and merits discussion. Give it a read and if it’s not your thing, that’s okay. If you end up liking it, then you have a lot more satire to look forward to, along with the added sting of pure unpolitical correctness.
Story: Jimmie Robinson Art: Jimmie Robinson
Story: 8 .0Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read Bomb Queen and then register to vote
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review