Alright, let’s start with the most obvious reason this issue is the best so far — Diana takes Jaime to Paradise Island! In previous reviews I’ve gushed over how this series elevates the feel of two iconic 70s TV series to the epic scope made possible by the comics medium. By that metric, Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #4 is a home run! (Kangas!) Every page is a delight, with homages and cameos abounding.
The chapter begins with Diana (Wonder Woman), Jaime (the Bionic Woman), and Max (the Bionic Dog) soaring over the Atlantic Ocean in Diana’s invisible plane. Diana contacts Paradise Island using her Mental Radio, activated by the ruby in her tiara, to announce their arrival. She compares the communication device to the one implanted in Jaime’s arm, drawing parallels between the mythic fantasy of Wonder Woman and the science fiction of the Bionic Woman.
Answering Diana’s call is a character not seen since the original pilot episode, The New Original Wonder Woman — Rena (Inga Neilsen!) Rena is Diana’s red-headed Amazon sister who was with her when she fatefully discovered Steve Trevor washed up on the shore of Paradise Island during World War II, the event which led to Diana leaving for America to become Wonder Woman.
Upon their arrival, Diana and Jaime are greeted by the Diana’s mother, the Queen (played on ABC by Carolyn Jones and Chloris Leachman and on CBS by Beatrice Straight. (The “close-up” model for this version is Carolyn Jones, but I could swear the profile is based on Beatrice Straight.) Guest stars pop up everywhere on Paradise Island — and we learn the fate of several of Wonder Woman’s friends and foes. I won’t spoil them for you here. (Seriously if you’re a fan of either TV show and you’re not reading the comic, close this review and march yourself down to your local comics shop right now or download it here.) We also meet a few Amazons who look a lot like some real world women, including the granddaughter of Wonder Woman’s creators — Christie Marston!
As they explore the island, Diana and Jaime swap origin stories. Diana describes Paradise Island as a haven for women who needed to escape the oppressive forces of Man’s World. Jaime wistfully suggests she might have benefitted from such island restoration after receiving her bionic upgrades. During the discussion, Jaime realizes that both women have faced robot-building enemies in the past, and that it happened not far from Paradise Island. It’s time to investigate. Also, the team grows by one Amazon.
Meanwhile, the villainous cabal CASTRA reveal their plan to invade Paradise Island with an army of Fembots to steal the Amazons’ feminum, a unique metal they intend to use to construct an indestructible army of androids. Discovering CASTRA’’s secret headquarters, the gals find themselves in fistfight with the Fembots, which does not end well.
This series started strong and this chapter is the best so far, adding even greater emotional depth as Jaime comes home with Diana to meet her family. Mangels has constructed a universe where mythic fantasy and science fiction are beautifully integrated. Wonder Woman’s presence accentuates Jaime’s courage and heroism, while Jaime’s highlights Diana’s humanity. At every turn, each character’s world adds dimension to the other.
While Mangels’ story delights, Judit Tondora’s renderings of real actors in a comics universe astound. In some cases (as with Carolyn Jones), Tondora gives new life to the deceased, rendering them effectively immortal. This is the series I’ve always wanted but didn’t know was possible. I never want it to end.