Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman #3 – Review
Written by Andy Mangels
Art by Judit Tondora
Colors by Roland Pilcz
Letters by Lois Buhalis and Tom Orzechowski
Edited by Matt Idelson
Published by Dynamite Enrtertainment and DC Comics
Warning! Spoilers ahead.
After reviewing the first two issues of this series at great length, which you can read here and here, I didn’t think I had anything left to say. Then I opened up issue #3 and saw Diana lassoing a missile and riding it rodeo style like a bull. Well, I knew I had to say something. Even if it was just to type that sentence. This all happens while Jaime Sommers has her own hilarious adventure trying to pilot the invisible plane. A scene in which writer Andy Mangels uses that opportunity to explain how that ridiculous thing even works.
This opening sequence is an encapsulation of what makes this series great. Action scenes so bonkers and imaginative that you laugh in excitement like a little kid. In terms of the art and the character voices both Jaime and Diana are rendered perfectly. Lindsay Wagner and Lynda Carter’s performances are expertly captured in image and word. Facial expressions, dialog, body language are all spot on. And then we have a creative team having an obviously great time not only with the comic book format and showing us things you could never do on the TV show due to limitations in budget and special fx but also in giving a loving homage to and poking fun at the original source material.
Riding that fine line between homage and satire is difficult and when attempted it tends to be outright satire of the original or falls into condescending and cynical irony (the 1995 Brady Bunch Movie or the 21 Jump Street movie from 2012 respectively). Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman straddles this line perfectly providing both love and sly winks towards the original shows.
As mentioned in previous reviews Jaime and Diana are coming into conflict with a legion of Doom style group of adversaries that comprise villains from both of their respective shows. The bulk of this issue chronicles how they all escaped their fates in whatever episode(s) featured them, what they were really doing that whole time and how they decided to join forces. Told mostly through a series of entertaining splash pages. Mangels with a dizzying display of TV canon knowledge combined with on point story telling instincts weaves an intricate interconnected back story that brings these various plot points from numerous TV episodes together into one grand conspiracy theory. Thankfully, provided with editorial notes on what episodes they are referring to. This is something I have never seen before in a comic adaptation. Certainly not in this level of detail.
I was staring with my mouth open at the absurdly fun spectacle of Diana doing her Slim Pickens in Dr Strangelove thing that opened the issue. Also, I equally impressed and dumb founded by Mangels’ ability to make this elaborate plot work while making it engaging and fun. I immediately went online to see if the episodes were available streaming so I could watch them again with the knowledge that something else is going on behind the scenes. I am happy to report that the entire Wonder Woman ’77 and Bionic Woman shows are available on Amazon Prime.
Not to diminish from the stand alone quality of the comic itself but tying together transmedia and creating a larger mythology, filling in gaps from the source material with quality creative work and doing it all with a child like joy that is reminiscent of how you would role play these characters with your friends when you were a kid are all things to relish and enjoy. I am profoundly envious, and grateful, that Mangels and Tondora have had the opportunity to play with the toys of their youth in a way that keeps them alive and vibrant. I wonder if any of these ideas were born of childhood playground role play.
Writing this review also gives me the chance to correct something from a previous review. While critiquing Judit Tondora’s art I was under the impression that we had a standard formula of pencils to inks to colors. Under this pretense I made an assumption that something was off about the inking process. What I thought I was seeing were heavy inking lines that might be obscuring the line work. Upon further research and taking a look at some of Tondora’s original pencils this turns out to be false. All of the line work in the final version of the book seems to be the original pencil work with minimal alterations by the later coloring work of Roland Pilcz.
This shows an attention by Tondora to using line. Not only in a practical way to stay on schedule but simultaneously as fitting of the needs of the panel. Tondora knows when to spend the time to add nuance and detail in a panel or splash that the reader will pause at and absorb and bolder thick lines for the quick read and action panels or when you simply need more contrast of shape within a panel.
From there the pencils go to colorist Roland Pilcz. The so far unsung hero of this creative team (in my reviews at least). Pilcz’s color work makes Tondora’s already gorgeous work pop right off the page. Especially in those more detailed panels and his work really shines in Diana’s various costumes. Check out the splash in issue #2 where Diana arrives at the funeral to see what I’m talking about. That is a lovely synthesis of line and color and two visual artists working perfectly together.
So my apologies to the creative team for not fully understanding the unique creative process of this book. As a writer myself I tend to focus a lot, perhaps too much, on the writing aspect and not enough time and research on the visuals.
I have read many transmedia/crossover books over the years that have blown my mind; the comic book Ghostbusters International crossing over with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon characters, Dynamite’s Swords of Sorrow crossover,. The mind bending and hallucinatory Barber/Scioli Gi Joe vs Transformers, IDW’s Revolution, Archie VS Predator, Mars Attacks Popeye. This book now tops that list. WWith each issue adding more plot details and a variety of story elements. Always maintaining an entertaining experience that is fresh, fun and surprising with every page turn. Despite all the wackiness and fun at the expense of the properties, what makes this book work is that at its core is a warm and blossoming friendship between the two main characters. Which in this day when most superheroes seem to have a neurotic fixation on fighting one another is absolutely refreshing.