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Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman

Andy Mangels writer
Judit Tondora artist
Michael Bartolo, Stuart Chaifetz, and Roland Pilcz colorists
Dynamite & DC
$19.99

The title gives it away: The second season version of Wonder Woman (played by Lynda Carter for three seasons from 1975 to 1979, with a movie pilot to kick it off) meets Jamie Sommers as the Bionic Woman (also for three seasons between 1976 and 1978, played by Lindsay Wagner) in this gal pal get together.

First off, a disclaimer: I was born in 1984, so these were not shows that were a part of my formative years, or shows that I have any fondness (or dislike) towards. I watched a few episodes of Wonder Woman (they played it on a cable channel right before The Facts of Life). I do, however, remember being very excited to watch the 90’s version of The Flash, back when shows took 2 or 3 years to arrive in my native Brazil, usually in dubbed form. So I can somehow understand the nostalgia that permeates this entire collected issue.

Not being familiar with the original series will not keep readers from being thoroughly informed through sometimes excessive, expositive dialogue. Many references to the shows, with their respective episodes, are peppered throughout. I, for one, thought fembots were an Austin Powers reference. They were not.

There is a bit of heavy-handed parallels right at the beginning of the collected issues. Wonder Woman is a hero by birth, Jamie by circumstance, however they are both called to action in an exciting first scene, with the Bionic Woman catching on quite quickly that there’s more than meets the eye with the demure Diana. We are then faced with a very much not subtle reference to sexism, when both, after saving countless lives (as per usual) are chastised for being late, maybe due to ‘makeup’ or a ‘broken heel’. This could set up an interesting conversation touching upon issues plaguing women then and now, and how the portrayal of ‘damsels in distress’ or oversexualization of women in comics is both shallow and wrong. There’s a missed opportunity there, but the comic, as a whole, passes the Bechdel test, as talk of heartthrobs and ‘boy trouble’ is practically non existent.

There is, however, banter over the difficulty of keeping secrets, which I found endearing, but one that could have been by any other superhero. This shunning of possible female and feminist issues is also seen in one of the villains, Dr. Cyber (funniest line in the book: when she demands being called Doctor, after going through medical school; another one I thought was an Austin Powers reference), when she says to another character that some women should be “seen, not heard”.

The book is brimming with seventies references, from the very talented art of Judit Tondora, who captured the likenesses of Lynda and Lyndsay in a striking way, to the heavy mustaches and Cold War fears (a missile gone awry, anyone?). There is also some cringe-y humor as when a character, addressing Diana, says “You look more like a Princess than a Prince”. Really? Cheesy pickup lines like that rub me the wrong way, more so due to the fact that Diana seems to blow it off (instead of punching it in the face).

The book, however, overcomes some of its flaws in the last two issues (it was originally a six-issue run), when familiar faces are seen again, and Jamie rises to the occasion of stepping into Amazon shoes (or boots).

Overall, I feel like the book would have benefited from me being actually engaged in those characters, as some fans of the TV shows might be. The story is easy enough to follow, but some of the beats seem to be geared towards a fan-base I’m not a part of.

Julio De Carvalho Ponce is a 35 year-old Brazilian crime scene analyst who’s really into languages, Eurovision, wine and travelling. Has lived in both the US and Norway, but wishes Mars was available for an exchange program. Has been a fan of comics ever since Spider-Man first got married to MJ. Has been heartbroken, in real life and when MJ and Peter broke up. Will sing if there’s karaoke. Heck, will sing even if there isn’t any. Thinks the world is in dire need of more love and more art.

Supporting comic shops is important now more than ever. Please check first with your local shop or an online comic store to buy this trade. If you can’t find it in store, then Amazon has print and digital copies for purchase.

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