You know, the comic book is a pretty incredible storytelling medium. It can portray landscapes, action sequences, and disasters a TV series simply can’t manage with a typical budget. In Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #1 from Dynamite Comics, writer Andy Mangels and artist Judit Tondora take full advantage of what this under-appreciated medium has to offer.
Besides offering story that reads like a big budget feature film crossover team-up, Mangels and Tondora successfully capture the spirit of two iconic television shows that changed the landscape of 70s television by placing women in lead action roles. They bring to life Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lindsey Wagner’s Bionic Woman — the bravery of the characters, as well as the the longtime friendship between the two actresses.
While I am intimately familiar with Wonder Woman (I can identify an episode by Diana Prince’s outfit before she spins into Wonder Woman.), my memory of The Bionic Woman is pretty spotty. I recall that it had female-bodied androids called Fembots and that Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, would occasionally show up. I watched thew show, and I liked it, but it didn’t cement itself in my psyche the way Wonder Woman did.
One thing I remember about both shows are the sound effects. Oh, boy, do I ever remember the sound effects!! When those bionics would go into action or when Wonder Woman would leap to the top of a building or snare a thug with her lasso or hurl her tiara— those sounds occupy a happy place in my psyche, and it’s to this happy place that this first issue of Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman transports me.
And now a warning…
Here there be SPOILERS. I’m going to reveal everything that happens in the issue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
After a brief one-page recap of the origins of our heroes, we are thrust straight into action, as special agent Diana Prince, on her way to work at the Inter Agency Defense Command (IADC), witnesses an exploding building. Ducking from sight, the bespectacled spy spins into action as Wonder Woman! Tondora’s panels riff on familiar, iconic Wonder Woman imagery, including red, white and blue stars that conjure the whimsy of the TV show.
As the Amazing Amazon rushes to protect passersby from falling debris, she receives unexpected bionic assistance from Jaime Sommers, who just happens to be in Washington for a meeting. Wonder Woman instantly recognizes Jaime as a capable woman and a worthy ally, the kind of woman who runs toward danger and not away from it. The two join forces to put out the fire and evacuate the building, supported by chill-inducing sound effects!
With the morning disaster handled, Jaime moves along to her meeting at the IADC, for which she, like Diana Prince, is now late. Naturally, the two women had been en route to the same meeting. Upon their arrival, a male chauvinist dick called Inspector Hanson asks the two ladies what took them so long, “Did your makeup take too long to apply or did you break a heel?”
Diana tells him that while he was safely tucked away in the office, Jaime was out, y’know, saving people’s lives. IADC Director Joe Atkinson intervenes and suggests they keep their priorities straight and not fight among themselves. Diana and Jaime exchange a look of sisterly understanding that seems to say, “Can you believe the crap we put up with?”
With everyone finally present, Steve Trevor explains the urgency behind this meeting of the nation’s top security agencies. Someone is leaking intel to CASTRA, a new terrorist organization involving Bionic Woman foe, Ivan Karp. The paramilitary cabal is targeting government scientists and defense materials. The assembled team will investigate the matter.
Oscar Goldman (Jamie’s boss) and Jack Hanson will look into which scientists and projects might be compromised. Steve Trevor and his team will protect a mission that may be part of CASTRA’s scheme. Diana and Jamie are assigned to protect a scientist suspected of being CASTRA’s next target.
In one of my favorite moments, Steve tells Diana “It will be just like having Wonder Woman by your side!” To which Jamie replies, “Is that a joke, or does he really not know?” Jamie obviously has her number, but when Diana evades the question, she drops the matter. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
From here on, it’s nonstop action. Steve’s team is ambushed. Diana and Jamie are late to the party, but manage to capture a couple of the men who had taken a room of scientists hostage. And all of it is a distraction from an assault on the IADC, where Eve, who never saw a fight in the TV series, kicks some butt to defend the agency. The issue ends with the IRAC computer hacked by a mysterious hooded figure and the death of a beloved Wonder Woman character.
Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman is Andy Mangels’ love letter to both heroines. His passion for the TV shows is palpable and contagious. The comic balances action, character, and whimsy beautifully, which makes for maximum fun. I don’t know how this would read for someone who isn’t familiar with either series, but if you are a fan of either show, this is an absolute must-read. That this team-up is possible forty years after both shows have been off the air, featuring the same actresses captured in their youth, is truly (pardon the pun) wonderful!