by Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora & others [YA PB (Graphic Novel) Mangels (and) Hoopla]
A few months ago, I reviewed Wonder Woman ’77 Vol.1, which was a marvelous recapturing of the style of superhero storytelling as seen in the old Wonder Woman television series starring Lynda Carter. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Wonder Woman ’77 Vol 2, and this, Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman.
This cross-over title was a whole lot of fun, especially for somebody who literally grew up on both of those television series. Wonder Woman’s pilot aired in 1975, and the series ran for three seasons from 1976 to 1979. The Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner, also ran for three seasons, from 1976 to 1978. Each series also had some bumps in its network run — Wonder Woman began as a 1940s era series on ABC, before moving to CBS and updating to a contemporary (1977) setting. The Bionic Woman also began life on ABC, as a spin-off of The $6 Million Man, then moved to NBC for the final part of its run. Both featured strong action-oriented female leads, and both featured wild and outrageous science fiction and/or fantasy plots, that often strained viewers credulity.
I mention the outrageous storylines specifically, because they tie directly into this cross-over tale. This trade paperback combines the six-issues of a comic-book miniseries, written by Andy Mangels with art by Judit Tondora. Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s civilian cover identity, a government intelligence agent), and Jamie Sommers, a bionically enhanced intelligence agent (for a different agency) encounter each other while at an East Coast conference when they both have to help stop a terror attack. The two women bond over their similar lives and are soon assigned, by their respective agencies, to work together to investigate a vast international conspiracy. It turns out that villains from multiple episodes of each of the series, all of whom were responsible for creating lifelike androids that were tools of evil megalomaniacs, have teamed up to combine their knowledge and goals. And they’re all working for a WWII Nazi mastermind, who wishes to invade Diana’s homeland, Paradise Island, and wipe out the Amazon Princess’s family and friends.
The plot of this six-part storyline is really dark, and totally nuts, but still a hoot to read. We have guest appearances but many, many supporting characters from both shows’ casts, and artist Tondora does a fairly good job of having the huge cast of major characters all strongly resemble the actors who orginally played them (particularly Fritz Weaver as one of the mad scientists, and Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman and Martin E. Brooks as Dr. Rudy Wells). Tondora’s depictions of both Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner aren’t perfect, but they’re successful more often than they’re wrong, and this really does feel like it could have been a TV mini-series crossover event. Some of the plotline and dialog is a bit hackneyed, but they that could also be said about both of the TV series at the time as well.
Overall, though I truly enjoyed this time capsule event — it is set in the late 1970s, and definitely felt accurate for the setting. And, seeing two of TV’s most memorable TV heroines fighting side-by-side against an army of Nazi soldiers and Fembot female androids is marvelous fun. I went out and bought this one for my own collection, but you can enjoy it here at the library!
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 1 and Wonder Woman ’77 Volume 2, by Marc Andreyko, or The Bionic Woman graphic novels on Hoopla.]
[ official DC Wikia entry for this mini-series ]
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library
Bennett Martin Public Library
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