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  • Writer's pictureC.M.Knopf

BOMB QUEEN & the Incendiary Divisive

| Do we get the government we deserve? |

If you aren't familiar with Bomb Queen by Jimmie Robinson, I encourage you to watch the short video below to get a feel for the series. This is not your usual superhero fare.

The story is set mostly in New Port City, USA - a hero-free and lawless haven for criminals ruled by the evil, U.S. government-created, clone, Bomb Queen. The series originally ran from 2006 to 2012, before Robinson re-introduced the the character in 2020. Bomb Queen is designated as “adult/satire” and both its creator, Robinson, and its editor, Kristen Simon, have stated that it is not meant to be taken seriously despite having dark and controversial content surrounding issues and representations of sex and violence. It is dark satire that relies on Carnivalesque and black humor to take stabs at politics and pop culture and is described as “Not for children (or squeamish adults).”

Comic Book Resources writer Michael Sullivan suggests that although on the surface Bomb Queen seems to be a basic sex and violence story, it “is brimming with wry observations, social commentary and, between the boobs and booms, leaves you with considerable food for thought.” By writing a villain book Robinson attempts to reverse the superhero formula where evil triumphs through the main character and the debased society that supports her. The inspiration for the dark satirical Bomb Queen was the post-9/11 American culture under President George W. Bush. The decade that followed the events of September 11, 2001 was noted for the bleak political satire of social unrest, shaped by changing industrial and cultural shifts in media production and consumption and by public anger and fear triggered by terrorism and the resulting international and domestic policies, corrupt industry, and a faltering economy.

There are several moments in the Bomb Queen story that highlight this dystopian perspective of American politics, with an underlying message that “you get the government you deserve.” In volume III, for example, Bomb Queen explains, “You’re only a hero where you’re accepted. […] One man’s hero is another man’s villain.” In volume IV, she highlights the hypocrisy of American government and society in a rousing speech her city of Klansmen, prostitutes, pimps, abusers, hackers, and terrorists. Robinson explained he wrote this to demonstrate “that anyone can make a case, for good or evil, using key ideals, concepts and fear tactics. When society accepts these ideals as truth, then movements are born. How they are viewed is up to the individual.”

If you want to know more about the original Bomb Queen run, and Queenie's days of taking on the Obama presidency, check out my chapter devoted entirely to BQ in Gender and the Superhero Narrative. For now, let's turn our attention to the Queen's latest reign in the mini-series Bomb Queen: Trump Card, introduced by Image in summer 2020 and released as a trade paperback in January 2021.

During the Obama years, Bomb Queen's efforts to overthrow the U.S. government focused on undermining Obama's squeaky-clean reputation to distract and discredit him. During the Trump years, her efforts to overthrow the U.S. government shifted to being more Trump-like than Trump himself in order to steal his voter base.

Indeed, there was already an uncanny similarity between the enthusiastic diegetic audience she had for a politically incorrect speech she gave back in a 2009 issue and the real crowd of Trump supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol in 2021.

{Above: excerpt from 2009 Bomb Queen. Below: image from 2021 Capitol siege.}

It's not surprising, then, that Bomb Queen: Trump Card and its readers have noted, "Bomb Queen was the Trump of New Port City." But, again, BQ was critical of the Bush and Obama years, too - always commenting on not only the government but the society that enables it. For example, Bomb Queen herself, and her crime-infested city, were creations of a shadow government, thus reflecting not only public paranoia surrounding the U.S. government’s complicity in terrorism (and other conspiracies now empowering Q-Anon and the alt-right) but also public concern about the government's use of torture and domestic surveillance in countering terrorism. It has always been, to use the words of Ricardo Denis, "a look at Totalitarianism and how it works, albeit with a more fast-paced, bloody, and sexed up mindset." In the superhero genre, protagonists are usually thought the be the embodiment of a nation and the enactment of its civic ideals. Bomb Queen, wherein the protagonist is a supervillain, is arguably no different, suggesting that the evils we are facing are our own.

In short, Bomb Queen and Bomb Queen: Trump Card fulfills the desirable functions of political satire: it highlights gaps in dominant myths, especially about politics and democracy; it offers a plurality of perspectives for understanding experiences, particularly through its moral ambiguity; and, Bomb Queen herself represents embodied opposition to dominant political and behavioral norms in how she performs her gender, particularly on the political/public stage (for more on that, see my previously mentioned chapter and discussions of Bomb Queen in my forthcoming Politics in the Gutters, particularly chapter 9.)

~Christina M. Knopf

15 January 2021


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