Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman #4: Respite from the battle
Written by Andy Mangels
Art by Judit Tondora
Colors by Roland Pilcz
Letters by Kathryn S. Renta
Edited by Matt Idelson
Published by Dynamite/DC
Warning! Minor plot spoilers ahead.
If you’ve been following my ongoing reviews of this series (links provided at the end of the article) you know that each issue of this crossover has been a dense, surprising, entertaining and generally heartfelt adventure with enough Easter eggs for both franchises to appeal to even the most hardcore fan. This installment is no different.
Each issue has brought us deeper into the respective worlds of Diana Prince and Jaime Summers adding layers of complexity as Mangels builds an Illuminati-style world conspiracy to oppose our heroines and always peppering each issue with some wacky and wonderful action scenes. Issue #4 does depart from that formula slightly in order to give us something a bit different as we head towards the climax of the story. This issue is quieter and contemplative while acting as a bridge to the final act.
The bulk of this issue has Diana playing host and guide to Jaime Summers as she (and we the readers) are introduced to the lush and colorful world of Paradise Island. As I have stated in previous reviews one of the main joys of this series is the ongoing all-ages sisterly comradery of our protagonists, this isn’t Civil War or Dawn of Justice, and this budding relationship is on full display here.
Reading these scenes, you get a sense of how Jaime really was an outsider in the masculine driven and logos centered Bionic world and her introduction to Paradise Island gives writer Mangels the chance to allow the character to open up and express her inner emotional world. A juxtaposition of the bionic and the human that hasn’t really been done satisfactorily up to this point in any story in my opinion. Although brief it goes a long way to show how much heart this comic has and that is something rare (especially in superhero stories) that should be commended.
Mangels also uses this issue to take a slight Grant Morrison-esque foray into the esoteric with a discussion between Diana and Jaime concerning the “reality” of the Gods and the nature of mythological beings. Something an overthinking and over-philosophizing academically minded mythology fan like me just can’t get enough of.
While I have talked extensively about Judit Tondora’s art in previous reviews I really feel that this issue gives colorist Roland Pilz a chance to shine by giving Paradise Island and its residents a bold lushness. Tondora can also draw one hell of a dog giving Maximillian the bionic dog from season 3 of The Bionic Woman a lot of life and personality.
Max isn’t the only deep cut reference/Easter Egg of this issue, we also have the introduction of a WW ’77 version of “Nubia”. In the original TV series there were plans to bring in this character, potentially to be played by Teresa Graves, but the idea was scrapped when the show switched networks. Showing a deep knowledge of Wonder Woman canon Mangels and Tondora have this version of the character not only appearing in the original outfit from her appearance in the DC comics universe proper but it is the same outfit as the rare Mego doll that was in production to coincide with her appearance that never was.
Not stopping there we have cameos of Carolyn Hamilton (episode, “Knockout”) Fausta Grables (episode, “Fausta, The Nazi Wonder Woman”) and more. These rapid fire references could be construed as showing off by Mangels but reading this series it becomes apparent that there is a deep love of canon going on and these appearances seem to be coming more from a fan who has pondered the fates of these various characters than by someone who takes their head canon too seriously.
Intercut between these scenes we see “The Cabal” that Legion of Doom-style team up of the various WW ’77 and Bionic Woman villains gearing up for the final act of this story. Twirling their mustaches and marveling at their army of feminum-lined androids and cyborgs. These scenes offer a tonal counter-point to the altruistic utopian vision of Paradise Island and Mangles does an excellent job of setting up this dynamic albeit obvious antagonistic duality.
This all leads to the inevitable cyborg beat down by Diana and Jaime which concludes with the most shocking cliffhanger of the series yet that adds a real palpable sense of tension and danger as the forces of darkness close in our heroes and their world.
Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman #4 is another great issue in this series. It might not appeal to everyone. It is an oddly dense read where the creative team throws a ton of references, plot points and themes at the reader in rapid fire succession. But if you can keep up and more importantly if you are a fan of these franchises and characters it is an incredible ride.