If you’ve paid any attention to the news for the past year, you can see people lining up on both sides of the political aisle for and against President Obama. But in a certain comic series, President Barack Obama is facing his biggest – and most unusual – threat ever!
In the Image miniseries Bomb Queen VI, the buxom villain and ruler of New Port City is pushing back against Obama as he tries to clean up the beleaguered coastal metropolis. But as seen in the Queen’s previous five series, she’s not one to sit idly by and let this happen – the best defense is an over-powering offense. Although Obama has faced more rosier pastures in his previous comics appearances, his future in comics doesn’t look too bright in Bomb Queen.
This sixth Bomb Queen series originally debuted back in the fall of 2009 but has been on hiatus due to a sickness in creator Jimmie Robinson’s family. But with good news on the medical front, writer and artist Jimmie Robinson has returned to the drawing board and worked several issues in advance to ensure timely monthly shipping for the remaining three issues of the series beginning this November. For more, we talked with Robinson about the series, the President and the long road back to comics.
Newsarama: Jimmie, in this new miniseries Bomb Queen IV, the Queen is going head-to-head with Barack Obama. A lot of comics have flirted with having Obama mix it up with superheroes, but you really dive into it. What was your impetus, and what’s it like having it out on shelves?
Jimmie Robinson: Bomb Queen has always been about politics. Since the very first issue in volume 1 back in 2006. I know some folks think we're jumping on the Obama bandwagon but that's far from the truth. Bomb Queen was fighting the U.S. Government when Obama was still some unknown Senator. However, the impetus for him in this story arc in, volume 6, is that his administration wouldn't tolerate Bomb Queen's city of crime. Bomb Queen was created under President Bush, which was just fine. She was part of the whole terrorist era. Likewise, her city was a legal loophole to put criminals and villains so the rest of the country could be safe – much like Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other detention centers. But Obama came in promising to shut places like that down. Hence, a new administration equals a challenge for Bomb Queen.
While real world politics and such is off limits for other books it is the normal for Bomb Queen because it has always been about politics, satire, and a dark social commentary on pop culture and current events. Other comics can create fake Presidents and that's fine because usually the President is just window dressing for whatever story is going on in their book. But for Bomb Queen, since she rules an American city that is subsidized by Washington D.C. I can't ignore the facts on the ground. Simply put, anyone who thinks Bomb Queen is just now mixing it up with politicians hasn't read the book. But though it has had that political platform I write it in a way that doesn't shove it down the reader's throat. In fact, when most people think or read the comic they don't consider the politics one of the heavy-handed messages. It's just the platform.
What most readers come away with is that Bomb Queen is unlike any book out there. It's a villain series, not an anti-hero book, not a remorseful, or converted hero, not a misunderstood or misdirected villain, but that Bomb Queen is a 100% pure evil character. Her evil is on par with a wild animal or a force of nature. You cannot beat it, only endure and survive it. You cannot reason with a hurricane, or a hungry pack of wolves. Bomb Queen's nature and existence is akin to the Devil. It is what she is. She was created that way, not learned or misguided. So when Obama hit the scene I had to really dive into it. Not because I personally have anything against the President (because I do not) but that the character Bomb Queen would simply hate him and want him dead. This is not the first time the government has tried to take away her city. She has beaten every senator, hero and covert black ops sent her way. Obama is just next in line.
Nrama: In the story, Obama is trying to take back New Port City from the rule of Bomb Queen. What’s it like living under the thumb of Bomb Queen for Newporters?
Robinson: People in New Port City love it there. The populace is packed with drug dealers, rapists, pedophiles, racists, serial killers, gangs, other powered villains and all the people who love that kinda craziness. They love the Queen much like any city likes their NFL team to beat the hell out of the other city's team.It's basic societal psychology that the government they got is the one they deserve. Who else to rule and protect a city of criminals than the biggest and best villain? They don't want a hero, right? The people of New Port City want protection from the heroes and the government's ethical, religious, and moral-based laws. It's a complete upside-down environment compared to the usual window dressing seen in other comics where fights break out on the street with high property damage. In Bomb Queen the so-called innocent bystanders are not innocent. In fact, they will join Bomb Queen in the fight against the heroes. This is one of the signature trademarks of the series. When readers ask me for a crossover like Invincible versus Bomb Queen I have to remind them that it's really the hero against an entire city. Bomb Queen is just the icon that represents them.
Nrama: New readers may not know this, but New Port City was under the thumb of someone even more evil than Bomb Queen for a while
Robinson: Right. For a while, the citizens of New Port City were also under the evil influence of an underworld demon. The demon, Desarak, feeds off human hatred and the city was a perfect hotbed for him. But once again, Bomb Queen, fought to keep the city under her control – which is just how the people like it.
Of course bad things do happen. Occasionally, people will get blown up by the Queen just walking by, crime is high so people are shot, raped, abused, whatever. But the people live there by choice. It's like the idea we've all thought of that it would be nice if all those murderers and criminals went to a deserted island and left us good people alone. New Port City is that island. The U.S. government obviously wants to control that island and not trust it in the hands of an egomaniacal supervillain who could turn tens of thousands of dedicated insurgents against us on home soil.
Nrama: What is Obama putting to bear to fend off Bomb Queen?
Robinson: Not much. Obama believes he's in the right, which technically he is. Likewise, he can't do much. Bomb Queen and her city are American citizens who do have rights. He can't just invade and take over the local government. He also has other concerns, such as the Middle East, the economy, the upcoming elections, blah, blah, blah. However, what this does is put him in a corner of desperation. As a writer it's my job to create the conflict. Obama doesn't have to do anything so I have to force him into it. Bomb Queen is smart. She's not a dumb blonde that's just T & A. She knows attacking Obama straight out would gain him public support to close her city, so she goes on a public campaign to the American people to dethrone Obama and cause him to act in defense. What Obama does in issue #2 and #3 is gather select Image superheroes to do the dirty work. Will his plan work? You have to read the book.
Nrama: Bomb Queen has faced off with other Image heroes in the past, such as in Bomb Queen IV back in 2007. So we’ll be seeing them again here thanks to Obama?
Robinson: I hope so. However, the problem with my book is multi-fold. For one, Bomb Queen is a villain book and she kills all her competition and enemies. That means when a hero wants to come to my book they turn into the villain because the Queen is a hero killer.
Second, even if they do show up I can't kill them. I can't kill ShadowHawk, or Invincible, or Savage Dragon. I can't even maim them (though Bomb Queen did blow off Savage Dragon's Arm when she was in his book #134 - but he could regenerate so it's all good). Still you see the problem.
Also, Bomb Queen is a *bad* book. Bad things happen inside the pages and not many people want their *heroes* to be in the same book with nudity, foul language, raping children, and endorsing murder and terrorism. But see, as a writer I have to create that world, otherwise it just looks like Anytown, USA. The appeal of Bomb Queen is that it has a rich background and solid infrastructure. It's not just a spandex suit dealing with other spandex suits. It's about culture and society and how it might look under the rule of a supervillain. I make a firm point, both in the writing and art, that the insanity seen in New Port City only happens inside her city limits. There's a distinct line and difference between our world and hers. I can't illustrate that unless you see it on the page. But showing it makes the book infamous at times. Blogs rip into it, readers judge it by the cover. I admit, it walks that line. But it has to when part of the story deals with an edgy society and the evil dictator who rules it. So I'm always worried when I ask other Image creators for permission to use a character in my story.That said... I did manage to get quite a few heroes to come out and play in issue #2 and #3 coming out this November. Expect to see ShadowHawk, Youngblood, Firebreather, Dynamo 5's Wraith, Mayhem, The Intimidators, Blacklight, and a slew of other heroes who have been in the series. And yes, I get to kill many of them. Who lives, who dies? Read it and find out.
Nrama: Obama is taking on Bomb Queen at the same time his popularity is plummeting – coincidence?
Robinson: Yes, it is a coincidence. This story arc was originally solicited last year, back when Obama was still riding a bit of his honeymoon with the media. My goal was to be the comic that didn't glorify Obama, but rather put him on the hot seat. In other comics they were trying to save him, or help him, or have him help them. In Bomb Queen it's reverse. She wants to kill him. The wife, the kids, the dog. There is no kissing up here. It's a villain book. Obama isn't getting a pony ride in this story.
But it is funny that now he is seriously sliding down in the polls while his political enemies are gaining strength. In fact, many of those enemies you'll see in Bomb Queen. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, etc. And let me point out, because I always get this, when I say Sarah Palin makes an appearance in the book I always hear, "Great! I hope the Queen blows her up", and I have to remind them that Bomb Queen would love Palin. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I really have to think backwards when creating this series.
But you can't address all readers and pundits so I'm sure plenty will see this as an attack against Obama especially now that he's down in the polls. There's nothing I can do about that. For all I know the Tea Party and Republican Party might even use it for promotion just because it puts Obama in the hot seat [laughs]. But that's if they even read it. Sadly, a few Republican blogs got it wrong and judged the book by the cover. They assumed because Obama was on the cover that it was glorifying him like the other comics. If only they had read it they'd have found that you can't always judge it by the cover.
Nrama: You mentioned the delay here – the first issue of this mini-series came out in the fall of 2009, and the second issue isn’t coming out until November of this year. What cause the delays?
Robinson: Yes, spinning off the last question of why it was a coincidence. Last year a number of things happened in my personal life and with my family. My 2 year-old grandson suffered a serious injury and he was hospitalized for a month with severe brain trauma and other complications. The doctors didn't candy-coat the prognosis; we were expecting to change our lives forever to accommodate the new condition he would be in for the rest of his life. However, what we got was a miracle and the baby recovered over time. We dodged that bullet (and plenty of other things), however, it delayed the book for six months. When I got it back together I came to Image and said the next issue was ready to go but at that time all the printing slots and solicitation windows were filled up. The next available release date was November, which added another 5 months to my delay which resulted in a year total.But let me say, I am sorry for the delay because though I had the family emergency I didn't have the next issue lined up, which is what I should have done. Comics works in cycles months in advance, and the fact that I only had one issue done at the time was already an uphill climb. Lots of artists work to the deadline, but it's not sound advice, because you never know what may happen. Before you know it, even losing 2 or 3 weeks can put a book into the late zone because it wasn't done ahead of time. For that I am sorry and I say this with all my heart to my fans and retailers who have stayed by my side. I thank you all.
Nrama: Through it all, you’ve really carved out a niche for yourself in comics with Bomb Queen – you’re on your sixth miniseries! What’s it like to finally make it like you have?
Robinson: It's weird. Bomb Queen was originally a 4-issue series. It was a complete story arc. At that point I could have walked away. But readers liked it. And it's for them that I continue, because I support diversity in comics. I want to see a Bomb Queen title on the shelf just like I want to see an Archie comic on the shelf. I'd rather have the entire spectrum up there from A-Z . From kid books to adult books – which I do both. So I'm happy to carve my niche.
Bomb Queen isn't for everyone and that's fine. There are plenty of books that play nice and get along with a larger mass of readers. If people don't like my work, or this particular book, that's okay because in this era we have a ton of comics to choose from. I love that. But out of the books I've made this is my only superhero title and I thought if I was going to step in this genre then it would be on my terms.
I would add a new wrinkle. However, I have done regular superhero work before (Wolverine What If? for Marvel), so I know how to play nice and by the rules. That was a great experience working on that character and with the editors. However Bomb Queen is not that book, nor will it ever be. I am true to the character and she won't turn into a hero, or find some shred of humanity and remorse. Likewise, she will not kiss up to the President's or treat him favorably. She is a shark that won't stop swimming as she devours everything and everyone in sight.