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Review: Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #1

wonderwoman77coverEven though Andy Mangels’ plot is needlessly convoluted at times introducing supporting characters from the TV shows slapdash without giving new fans a feel for them, and Judit Tondora’s art lacks heft during scenes that should be iconic like Wonder Woman transforming, their love for these classic 70s TV shows shines through in Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #1. They should also be commended for making Diana and Jaime almost instant friends and allies instead fo wasting the first issue on pointless squabbles as they smile after catching a giant boulder together while protecting ordinary citizens from an explosion. After a fun cold open, the first issue goes all out Cold War with various alphabet soup espionage organizations, including Bionic Woman‘s OSI, trying to catch saboteurs and get to the bottom of a deeply rooted conspiracy.

Mangels has great ideas for action scenes in Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman #1, and the ones that hit home are the ones with smaller panels showing the individual moves from Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, and others. There is a simple beauty to these women using their extraordinary abilities to protect those weaker than them in spite of the sexism of their colleagues. (Jaime deduces the almost obvious fact that Diana Prince is Wonder Woman even though this puzzles the rest of the mostly male operatives.) Then, toward the last third of the comic, Mangels introduces a whole slew of supporting characters from both  using a big portion of the remaining pages to show them in action instead of furthering Diana and Jaime’s arcs even killing a character for a cheap bit of drama. It’s nice that he does justice to both the worlds of Bionic Woman and Wonder wonderwoman77interiorWoman, but what could be a strong superhero/spy period piece gets lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, later issues of the miniseries either streamline the plot or spend time showing Diana and Jaime’s connections to their supporting players. The latter could be very rewarding.

The colors from Michael Bartolo and Stuart Chaifetz stay baseline until Bionic Woman or Wonder Woman use their special abilities, and the page changes from a mundane 70s TV show to something imaginative. Of course, there’s plenty of red, white, and blue when Wonder Woman is catching rocks, blocking bullets with her bracelets, and generaly kicking butt. But the coolest bit of color is when Bionic Woman uses her highly underrated super hearing ability from her bionic implant, which is a shade of light blue like a dolphin using echolocation. The colors mixed with Tondora’s drawings of explosions gives that classic 70s or 80s TV show feel of “We used the whole special effects budget on that one sequence.” But since this is comics, there are several such sequences.

At its best, Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman #1 is quick hitting, empowering fun with a retro twist as Diana and Jaime fight Cold War era bad guys. At its worst, there is occasionally no room to breathe in the story as Mangels and Tondora cram in plot beat after plot beat and extra character after character. For example, the first transformation sequence from Diana to Wonder Woman is only about a quarter of a page and falls short of the iconic moment in the show and even a recent homage to it in Supergirl. But the sound effects and active backgrounds keep the story’s momentum going and make Wonder Woman ’77/Bionic Woman #1 a slightly above average read.

Story: Andy Mangels Art: Judit Tondora Colors: Michael Bartolo, Stuart Chaifetz
Story: 7.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7.3 Verdict: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review