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WONDER WOMAN ’77 MEETS THE BIONIC WOMAN Unites Feminist Icons (Review)

WONDER WOMAN ’77 MEETS THE BIONIC WOMAN Unites Feminist Icons (Review)

Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman #1 (of 6)

Writer: Andy Mangels

Art: Judit Tondora, with Michael Bartolo and Stuart Chaifetz

Covers: Cat Staggs, Alex Ross, Michael Adams, Judit Tondora

It may be hard to believe, but in many ways it was a better time to be a female action hero 40 years ago than it is today. Sure, things are improving—our two newest Star Wars films feature female leads, for example. But then there’s the fact that nearly every other major superhero has been given a movie before Wonder Woman or Black Widow have gotten their own.

But 40 years ago, at least on television, female action heroes ruled. There was Angie Dickinson’s Police Woman. There was Charlie’s Angels. And the two biggest and most iconic were, of course: Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter, and The Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner. A million little girls (and some little boys) worshipped and emulated these two, hopping over many small obstacles in their backyards and supplying their own sound effects to be just like these unstoppable women.

Among other similarities, these shows also shared a weird parallel history. Wonder Woman premiered just a few months before The Bionic Woman, in November of 1975. The series ran one season on ABC, before switching to CBS for the final two seasons. The Bionic Woman also ran just three seasons, starting out on ABC before switching to NBC for its final year. Although both shows originated on the same network, the two shows never crossed over… until now that is.

Writer and Wonder Woman super fan Andy Mangels has joined artist Judit Tondora for Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman, a new six-part limited series from Dynamite Entertainment and DC Comics, which sees the two ’70s feminist icons working together at last.

After a brief origin recap for both heroines, the issue starts off in Washington D.C. in 1977, where an explosion occurs at a downtown building. Luckily, Diana Prince and Jaime Sommers are both on the scene to help save civilians, not to mention meet one another for the first time. It’s a fun, classic little action sequence, and I’m always happy whenever Wonder Woman gets to use her invisible plane, something the modern era of comics seem embarrassed about utilizing for some reason. Of course, the action sequence is much bigger than anything either show could have pulled off back in the day, but hey, that’s the magic of comics. You get an unlimited budget.

After their introduction, Jaime Sommers heads to the Inter Agency Defense Command, where Wonder Woman in her civilian identity of Diana Prince happens to work. Jamie is there as an agent of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (thank Hera this world has room for two fake government agencies!), and instantly recognizes Diana Prince as the super hero she just met, despite everyone else being oblivious to her true identity (it must be her bionic senses). The two are brought into a meeting with an agency bigwig alpha male who chastises the pair on their lateness “because they were probably putting on makeup or breaking a heel.” Diana instantly sticks up for Jaime, and tells the sexist jerk that while he was in his office, the Bionic Woman was actually saving lives.

As was usually the case on these shows, the big bad is a paramilitary terrorist group, this time called CASTRA. The budget on these shows rarely allowed for alien invasions or super villains of any kind, so evil terrorists were almost always the way to go. Diana and Jaime are assigned to protect a scientist who is thought to be CASTRA’s next target. Pretty quickly from here out, the story unfolds into an explosive action sequence that, much like the opening of the book, could never have occurred given the limitations of ’70s TV. In a sense, that makes this crossover not so much the episodes that never happened, but the big budget crossover movie that never happened.

Writer Andy Mangels obviously knows these characters backwards and forwards, and he writes Diana Prince almost as well as a staff writer for the series back in the day could. Considering his longtime Wonder Woman fandom, that’s not surprising, but what is a nice surprise is how well he writes Jaime Sommers too. Clearly his love for ’70s Wonder Woman was shared with the Bionic Woman.

As impressed as I was with the writing, which really felt genuine to the tone of both TV series, I was slightly less impressed with the art. Judit Tondora is a very solid artist, and I love that she doesn’t fall into the trap so many artists do when drawing real life actors, which is to make every panel look like you’re just tracing a still image from the show. But as much as I liked her style, towards the end of the comic, it all got a little haphazard and rushed, especially in the big action scene towards the climax. I couldn’t help but feel maybe she needed a little more time on this one to get it just right.

Nevertheless, this is a light, breezy, fun comic that should be a real treat to anyone who grew up watching these two seminal shows in the ’70s, or during reruns in the ’80s and ’90s like I did. If these two icons meant anything to you growing up, then you owe to yourself to pick up Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman.  It’s the perfect distraction from a world that could really use the brightness and positive feelings that these two characters embody right about now.

RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS

3.5-burritos1

Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman #1 is available at comic book stores now.

Images: Dynamite Entertainment / DC Comics


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