Amazon Family Reunion: Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #4 Review

WWBW04-Cov-A-Staggs.jpgAlright, 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.

Doctor Psycho: One of Wonder Woman’s Vilest Villains

An essay I wrote about Doctor Psycho’s first appearance in Wonder Woman #5 (1943), written by William Moulton Marston, with art by H. G. Peter.

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Dr. Psycho is one of Wonder Woman’s all-time creepiest supervillains. His epically misogynistic mission was originally to “change the independent status of modern American women back to the days of the sultans and slave markets, clanking chains and abject captivity.” Stopping him is totally a job for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman’s adversaries are usually victims of some sort of psychological imbalance that stems from unhealthy cultural practices and/or gender dynamics. They also tend to be distorted reflections of Wonder Woman herself. In the case of Dr. Psycho, a man with a brilliant mind and a hideous figure is broken by a world that debases intelligence and worships beauty.

Before Dr. Psycho became a supervillain, he was a brilliant university student, but a terribly unattractive one — a knock-kneed “pocket Napoleon” with a funny looking face on an oversized head sitting atop a diminutive awkward body. No matter his intellectual accomplishments, his appearance remained the focus of his peers and their constant ridicule. He was engaged to a beautiful woman named Marva. She admired his intelligence, but insisted that “lovemaking doesn’t become [him].” Ouch!

After catching Marva in the embrace of a dashing athlete named Ben Bradley, Psycho prepares to call off their engagement, believing she would be happier with a handsome husband. (He’s probably right, given Marva’s thoughts on Psycho and lovemaking.) Before he can make his personal sacrifice, however, he finds himself framed by Ben for radium theft with Marva’s unsuspecting help.

While Psycho is locked up Ben and Marva marry, sending him over the edge. The betrayal is more than his psyche can bear. His self-esteem annihilated and his faith in humanity destroyed, he swears revenge not just on Ben and Marva, but on all women everywhere. Waging a war on women, Dr. Psycho’s insanity makes him receptive to the influence of the Duke of Deception (an emissary of Mars, the god of war), who bestows Psycho with occult knowledge that leads him to terrible power.

Once freed from prison Psycho murders Ben, who accuses Marva of masterminding the plot to frame him. Bent on revenge, Psycho subjects Marva to what he himself calls a fate worse than death — marriage to him. Using a hypnotic power to compel to marry him against her will, he binds and hypnotizes her her day after day, making her a human guinea pig for occult experiments involving her body and her spirit.

For prepubescent readers this is horrific enough, but adult readers no doubt recognize the adult activities and expectations associated with marriage and may wonder what Psycho’s “occult experiments” might entail. We’re talking about some super-creepy serial rape here (which by the way, though utterly deplorable, was completely legal when this story was written and remained so for decades afterward.)

Footnote: In fact, as recently as 2015, Michael Cohen, a lawyer for the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, whose previous wife had accused him of raping her, explicitly stated that rape within marriage is not legally possible. “You cannot rape your spouse,” he said. “There’s very clear case law.” Besides being unconscionably vile, he was also factually wrong. In 1984, New York joined 17 other states in acknowledging that women’s bodies are not property by striking down the so-called marital rape exemption. The judge’s decision declared that “a married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman.” Marital rape didn’t become illegal in all fifty states until 1993.

Through experimentation on his enslaved wife Dr. Psycho masters the art of extracting ectoplasm from her dispirited body, which he uses to alter his own appearance and to create solid ectoplasmic ghost forms. First he takes the shape of Mussolini, then the famous (but deceased) boxer, John L. Sullivan. These external manifestations reveal Psycho’s inner desire — to be a powerful man who dominates others, whether though fascist authoritarian rule or sheer brute strength.

We see Marva blindfolded and bound to a chair, powerless to resist her husband as he performs his experiments on her, reducing her to a lab rat. Marva is bound to him in marriage, unable to stand on her own, completely under his control, forced to reflect him as he wishes to be seen — powerful like Mussolini and strong like Sullivan. Marva is kept at home and treated like an animal, forbidden from participating in the world — no friends, no job, no relationships besides her husband, whose influence is all-powerful.

Dr. Psycho, with Marva in tow, begins holding public seances where he summons ghosts before live audiences, and becomes a nationwide sensation with millions of people accepting the phantoms’ words as gospel. It is at one such performance, while conjuring George Washington, that the wicked imp comes to the attention of a certain Amazon princess.

The act begins with Marva seated on-stage, blindfolded and confined inside a glass cabinet. Psycho asks for volunteers from the audience to bind Marva to her chair. Always up for a good girl-roping, Wonder Woman seizes the opportunity to tie up the medium. When Marva complains that her bonds are too tight, Wonder Woman retorts that her ropes are actually too loose, that  an Amazon could easily escape. Marston is telling the reader that Marva doesn’t have much fight in her.

With Marva bound and caged before a watchful crowd, Psycho creates a phantasmic George Washington, who lectures on the folly of women’s participation in the war effort. Psycho-Washington predicts the explosion of a munitions plant the following day and blames it on the carelessness of the women who work there.

It’s a striking image — a veritable American deity denouncing women’s war efforts with Wonder Woman standing behind him in the background, her mouth agape, horrified at his sexist propaganda. She is new to this country, the voice of its future, and this resurrected American hero spouts old ideas better left in the past. Who will the audience trust?

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Even the Amazon’s blond boyfriend gets on board with Psycho-Washington’s rant. “Sounds genuine to me!” he says. (I like to imagine that she gives him an earful about that remark off-panel.)

The scenario takes on another dimension when we consider that the ultimate power behind this charade is Mars, the god of war himself, whose primary fear is that women’s power will not only win World War II, but if allowed to flourish will end all war and with it his hold on mankind. This depiction of a nation’s own mythology used to hock lies to the masses and undermine feminine power while propagating violence is an echo of centuries past and a shadow of decades to come. It is seemingly a timeless tale. This is the story of the Amazons of Ancient Greece, the witches of the Inquisition, McCarthyist attacks on feminism during the Cold War, and current efforts to deny women birth control through perversion of the United States Constitution in the name of the religious freedom of their oppressors.

After Psycho-Washington’s prophecy comes to pass (through his own machinations, of course) he gains the ear of military intelligence and invites Diana’s bosses, Colonel Darnell and Steve Trevor, to a private seance in Psycho’s laboratory. Since it’s her book Wonder Woman comes with them.

Again we see Marva as Wonder Woman ties her to a chair. She begs Psycho to free her, but he tells her, “No woman can be trusted with freedom!” Disconcertingly no one, including Wonder Woman, moves to free Marva when she asks.

Psycho-Washington appears once more, foretelling that three women will be responsible for the disappearance of top secret documents the following day. After this second prophecy comes to pass (and three innocent women are framed by Dr. Psycho), a suspicious Steve Trevor returns to Psycho’s lab to question him.

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Psycho responds by spouting a lot of protoplasmic palaver at him. And as he delivers his masturbatory monologue a ball of white ectoplasmic goo collects on Steve’s chest, which literally takes his breath away. As if to underscore the seminal moment, in the background we see various downward pointed tubes, dripping and squirting their fluids into receptive flasks.

Later, Wonder Woman arrives to rescue Steve and discovers him trapped in a golden cage. When she attempts to set him free she finds herself paralyzed by an electrical current coursing through the metal bars. Steve’s form dissolves, revealing Psycho underneath. “I materialize a body and wear it like a cloak — Trevor’s — Darnell’s — a Major General’s!”

Psycho is describing his own sociopathic chameleon-like behavior. He exhibits whatever visage and traits service his goals, with no moral center of his own. He is the charming-but-ruthless psychopath who has plagued too many trusting women of the real world and risen the highest levels of political office. As long as he looks good in public, he can get away with untold horrors behind closed doors.

With Wonder Woman now his prisoner, he hooks her up to machine that separates her spirit from her body, a sensation she describes as “like falling”, then chains her colorless spirit to the wall with “bands of psycho-electric magnetism” (because comic books) which are as strong as Psycho’s willpower while her lifeless-but-colorful body remains trapped in the cage. Wonder Woman tries to call for help, but can’t send a mental radio message without her body. She is truly helpless.

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And we’re back into rape territory. Wonder Woman is in the same thrall as Marva. She has been rendered completely immobile, subject to Psycho’s will and unable to control her own body. The Harvard Psychiatry Review describes a common response to sexual assault as tonic immobility, an experience characterized by dissociation, hopelessness, and paralysis — exactly what is evoked through this image of Wonder Woman’s grey spirit body chained helplessly to a wall, while the possibility of restored life and freedom lies with reunification with her colorful physical form which she observes at a distance.

Steve Trevor, still held captive elsewhere, manages to get a message to Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls via Wonder Woman’s Mental Radio device. The fearless sorority sisters arrive at Psycho’s lab where they encounter the doctor posing as an exotic gentleman who elicits their man-hunting instincts. The girls’ flirtations weaken Psycho’s will and with it Wonder Woman’s bonds. Unlike Marva, Wonder Woman has continued to fight against her bonds so she is prepared to break them when the opportunity arises.

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The image of her escape is positively joyous! She doesn’t just bend the bars of her cage. She delights in twisting and breaking them. “You never know how good your body feels until you’ve been out of it for a while!” Not just pretty words, but a glimmer of hope for women like Marva, readers who feel trapped and powerless to act. To build on the hopeful message, when assaulted by electrical blasts Wonder Woman discovers that she can barely feel them. She has become immune to the power that had been used to confine her. Through her capture, bondage, and escape, she has descended only to rise stronger and more capable than before,

After rescuing Steve, Wonder Woman finds a deeply entranced Marva and wakes her gently. Her consciousness restored, the poor woman is terrified that Psycho will torture her, that her newly gained freedom will be met with punishment. Wonder Woman, holding Marva in her lap like a child, explains that the only power Psycho has over her is the power she gives him. With the source of Psycho’s ectoplasmic power unplugged, the imp’s disguise dissolves and he is captured by Steve and the Holliday Girls.

In the story’s final panel (one of my favorites), Marva says to  Wonder Woman, “Submitting to a cruel husband’s domination has ruined my life! But what can a weak girl do?” — a familiar sentiment in patriarchal society. The Amazon’s answer is both pragmatic and poignant, and quintessential Wonder Woman: “Get strong! Earn your own living — Join the WAACs or WAVES and fight for your country! Remember the better you can fight the less you’ll have to!” (Emphasis is mine.) For Wonder Woman, rescue is only the beginning of a woman’s journey to claim her own inner power and thus freedom from man’s domination.

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Heavy Machinery: Wonder Woman Meets The Bionic Woman #3 Review

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Cover by Glen Hanson

When last we left our heroes, they were out at sea, atop a cargo ship that had just fired off a stolen missile!

Now, SPOILER ALERT! I’m going to reveal super secrets of the this issue!

Click here to get Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #3 from Comixology.

To stop the missile, Jaime (who once posed as a stewardess) pilots Wonder Woman’s invisible plane, despite her inability to see the invisible controls and questions Diana’s choice of timing for a costume change. Giving chase, Wonder Woman lassoes the missile from the plane’s wing and throws it off course with some Amazon acrobatics. We’re off to a delightfully goofy high-stakes start!

Meanwhile, the terrorist group CASTRA has freed Wonder Woman’s very very old foe, Captain Radl (John Saxon), from prison. During Wonder Woman’s World War II adventures, Radl and his Nazi team had invaded Paradise Island before being defeated by Wonder Woman and her younger sister, Drusilla (Debra Winger). The Amazons wiped Radl’s memory, but it returned during his incarceration.

Now we learn the full scope of what Diana and Jaime are up against. CASTRA consists of Wonder Woman villains, Captain Radl, Dr. Solano, and his companion, Dr. Cyber (aka Gloria Marquez), and Orlich Hoffman, who have joined forces with the Bionic Woman’s adversary, Dr. Carl Franklin, creator of the deadly android femme fatales known as Fembots, and his robotic “son”, Carl Mark II. The series of expository monologues in where we learn this info is punctuated by Hoffman, who comes dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall, once again bringing the self-aware charm that is a signature of this comic.

Back at sea, Wonder Woman and Jaime have CASTRA’s hired henchmen all tied up, but discover that some of them are actually Fembots (…er, Masc-bots?) Anyway, they defeat all but one, which escapes overboard after a battle sequence studded with stars and bionic sound effects. Assuming that the robot sank to the bottom (and inexplicably not going after it), the super partners check in at the IADC, where Jaime calls her parents, inspiring Diana to pay a visit to her own mother.

Then it’s off to the OSI to visit Dr. Rudy Wells (Marin E. Brooks), the bionic surgeon, who is examining a captured Fembot (er, Manbot… whatever.) The Fembot creeps Jaime out, which perplexes Diana. After all, Diana points out, Jaime is part cybernetic herself. Dr. Wells points out that though there are technological similarities the Fembots are computers and not at all sentient. (And for the record, the Fembots creep me out, too.)

The discussion of human vs machine is interrupted by fan favorite, Max the Bionic Dog! Diana smiles into his eyes and the two become instant friends. With the new team formed, the two women and their dog leave the OSI. And as they do, Rudy finds himself at the mercy of a team of Fembots!

Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #3 is a balancing act well-executed, combining action, exposition, and an exploration of the Bionic Universe while retaining its sense of nostalgic fun. Again, Andy Mangels balances wit and action, keeping the story moving, remaining true to the star characters, and using the supporting cast to deepen our understanding of them. I love this series.

Click here to get Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #3 from Comixology.

Sisters in Arms: Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #2 Review

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First, a disclaimer: I am much more familiar with Diana Prince than Jaime Sommers, so my reviews of this series slant heavily toward Wonder Woman.

Also, SPOILERS GALORE!!!

Click here to get Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #2 at Comixology!

Now, onward!

Andy Mangels picks up our story with the funeral of IADC director Joe Atkinson. Right away this issue improves on anything that would have aired on television in the 1970s, with cross-cultural sensitivity on full display. Eve, a presumably gentile African-American IADC agent, has coordinated the Jewish service, hoping that she “got everything right. For Joe.”

At the shiva gathering in the Atkinson home, Joe’s daughter, Elena (played on TV by Eve Plumb, famous for her role as Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch), confirms that Joe is well and truly dead, as evidenced by his autopsy to which Elena’s traditionalist mother strongly objected. Jaime tells her boss, Oscar (a non-practicing Jew), that she feels uncomfortable and out of place.

Diana Prince excuses herself just before Wonder Woman coincidentally arrives, greeting Elena in Hebrew with a traditional prayer of mourning. THIS is Wonder Woman! She is a citizen of the world — Human-to-human connection, meeting others where they are. It’s truly a beautiful scene and conveys a profound mutual respect among all the characters.

Jaime asks Wonder Woman to meet her on the roof, where she confronts the Amazon, telling her she knows that Diana Prince and Wonder Woman are the same person. Unsurprised, Diana trusts Jaime to keep her secret and their friendship continues to deepen — sisterhood, trust, mutual respect. So. Very. Wonder Woman.

Now onto the the action:

A mysterious hooded woman checks the manifest of a weapons transport ship while a sailor explains that the cargo is loaded. (If you look closely at the manifest, it’s actually a page from a Wonder Woman TV script. I love Andy Mangels.) Fans of the TV series will recognize the woman as Gloria Marquez (played by Jessica Walter) from the CBS Wonder Woman pilot, “The Return of Wonder Woman”, who seemingly perished at the end of the episode. Here were learn that she survived and has been upgraded to supervillain status — as a fabulously 70s cyborg, Doctor Cyber! Again, Mangels masterfully combines the feel and pace of the TV series with the scope of a comic book.

Doctor Cyber contacts her partner, Doctor Solano (Fritz Weaver), who has also not been seen since his apparent death beside Gloria. It seems Solano and Gloria have teamed up with Bionic Woman villain, the Fembot-building Dr. Franklin (John Houseman).

Back at the IADC, Jaime tells Steve Trevor that Wonder Woman has given her a way to contact her, a fact that miffs him. (Jealous?) Diana suggests he just be grateful for the time Wonder Woman does spend helping him. It’s delicious to see Diana have a woman who is her equal and her confidant. Steve tells the duo that a ship containing experimental missiles is on the loose and it’s their job to track it down.

Before they set out in the freshly-washed invisible plane, Jaime takes a moment to ask Diana how she changes identities so quickly. At that, Diana spins into Wonder Woman, telling her that it’s a sight seen by almost no one. Somehow this scene is both grand and intimate. Jaime is quickly learning more about the Amazing Amazon than anyone in Man’s World. Though Diana is nearly always smiling, it starts to make me wonder if she might be terribly lonely without anyone to trust. As they fly off, they leave Diana’s car in the lot.

“Do you leave a lot of cars behind,” Jaime asks.

“More than you know,” replies the Amazon. If you watched the show religiously, this is hilarious.

The final act of the book is action-packed. While Diana and Jaime kick butt on a cargo ship in the Atlantic, a dangerous foe is freed from a prison near Washington D.C. — an old enemy who vexed Wonder Woman in the 1940s, a man who knows way too much.

Oh, and one of the experimental missiles is launched. Things have gone from bad to worse.

This issue of Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman is every bit as enjoyable as the first, but the tone has darkened. We begin with the emotional impact of death which provides the backdrop for the superwomen’s budding friendship. It has all the fun and action, and also brings humanity and gravitas. This series is a gem. I can’t wait to see what future issues hold!

Click here to get Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #2 at Comixology!

A Beautiful Friendship: Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #1 Review

Besides offering story that reads like a big budget feature film crossover team-up, Mangels and Tondora successfully capture the spirit of two iconic television shows that changed the landscape of 70s television by placing women in lead action roles. They bring to life Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lindsey Wagner’s Bionic Woman — the bravery of the characters, as well as the the longtime friendship between the two actresses.

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You know, the comic book is a pretty incredible storytelling medium. It can portray landscapes, action sequences, and disasters a TV series simply can’t manage with a typical budget. In Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman #1 from Dynamite Comics, writer Andy Mangels and artist Judit Tondora take full advantage of what this under-appreciated medium has to offer.

Besides offering story that reads like a big budget feature film crossover team-up, Mangels and Tondora successfully capture the spirit of two iconic television shows that changed the landscape of 70s television by placing women in lead action roles. They bring to life Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Lindsey Wagner’s Bionic Woman — the bravery of the characters, as well as the the longtime friendship between the two actresses.

While I am intimately familiar with Wonder Woman (I can identify an episode by Diana Prince’s outfit before she spins into Wonder Woman.), my memory of The Bionic Woman is pretty spotty. I recall that it had female-bodied androids called Fembots and that Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, would occasionally show up. I watched thew show, and I liked it,  but it didn’t cement itself in my psyche the way Wonder Woman did.

One thing I remember about both shows are the sound effects. Oh, boy, do I ever remember the sound effects!! When those bionics would go into action or when Wonder Woman would leap to the top of a building or snare a thug with her lasso or hurl her tiara— those sounds occupy a happy place in my psyche, and it’s to this happy place that this first issue of Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman transports me.

And now a warning…

Here there be SPOILERS. I’m going to reveal everything that happens in the issue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You can buy it here from Amazon/Comixology.

After a brief one-page recap of the origins of our heroes, we are thrust straight into action, as special agent Diana Prince, on her way to work at the Inter Agency Defense Command (IADC), witnesses an exploding building. Ducking from sight, the bespectacled spy spins into action as Wonder Woman! Tondora’s panels riff on familiar, iconic Wonder Woman imagery, including red, white and blue stars that conjure the whimsy of the TV show.

As the Amazing Amazon rushes to protect passersby from falling debris, she receives unexpected bionic assistance from Jaime Sommers, who just happens to be in Washington for a meeting. Wonder Woman instantly recognizes Jaime as a capable woman and a worthy ally, the kind of woman who runs toward danger and not away from it. The two join forces to put out the fire and evacuate the building, supported by chill-inducing sound effects!

With the morning disaster handled, Jaime moves along to her meeting at the IADC, for which she, like Diana Prince, is now late. Naturally, the two women had been en route to the same meeting. Upon their arrival, a male chauvinist dick called Inspector Hanson asks the two ladies what took them so long, “Did your makeup take too long to apply or did you break a heel?”

Diana tells him that while he was safely tucked away in the office, Jaime was out, y’know, saving people’s lives. IADC Director Joe Atkinson intervenes and suggests they keep their priorities straight and not fight among themselves. Diana and Jaime exchange a look of sisterly understanding that seems to say, “Can you believe the crap we put up with?”

With everyone finally present, Steve Trevor explains the urgency behind this meeting of the nation’s top security agencies. Someone is leaking intel to CASTRA, a new terrorist organization involving Bionic Woman foe, Ivan Karp. The paramilitary cabal is targeting government scientists and defense materials. The assembled team will investigate the matter.

Oscar Goldman (Jamie’s boss) and Jack Hanson will look into which scientists and projects might be compromised. Steve Trevor and his team will protect a mission that may be part of CASTRA’s scheme. Diana and Jamie are assigned to protect a scientist suspected of being CASTRA’s next target.

In one of my favorite moments, Steve tells Diana “It will be just like having Wonder Woman by your side!” To which Jamie replies, “Is that a joke, or does he really not know?” Jamie obviously has her number, but when Diana evades the question, she drops the matter. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

From here on, it’s nonstop action. Steve’s team is ambushed. Diana and Jamie are late to the party, but manage to capture a couple of the men who had taken a room of scientists hostage. And all of it is a distraction from an assault on the IADC, where Eve, who never saw a fight in the TV series, kicks some butt to defend the agency. The issue ends with the IRAC computer hacked by a mysterious hooded figure and the death of a beloved Wonder Woman character.

Wonder Woman Meets the Bionic Woman is Andy Mangels’ love letter to both heroines. His passion for the TV shows is palpable and contagious. The comic balances action, character, and whimsy beautifully, which makes for maximum fun. I don’t know how this would read for someone who isn’t familiar with either series, but if you are a fan of either show, this is an absolute must-read. That this team-up is possible forty years after both shows have been off the air, featuring the same actresses captured in their youth, is truly (pardon the pun) wonderful!

Re-introducing Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #14 Review

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Wonder Woman’s origin story was first told in 1941 in the pages of All-Star Comics #8 and Sensation Comics #1, penned by Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston and drawn by feminist cartoonist H. G. Peter. Seventy-five years later we are graced a fabulous re-imagining of the Amazing Amazon’s origin in an epic tale that concluded this week in Wonder Woman #14. Greg Rucka’s pitch-perfect storytelling and Nicola Scott’s unparalleled artwork capture the Princess Diana’s essential nature more powerfully and completely than anyone since team that created her, updating and refining the outstanding work of George Pérez. It offers a satisfying end to “Year One”, showing us both the Wonder and the Woman that make Diana a warrior for Peace and Love, and what makes her the world’s greatest superheroine.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD 

I’m about to give a play-by-play analysis of the the book. 

Do yourself a favor and read it first. It’s insanely good.

You can get it here.

The story picks up where the previous issue left us, with Diana leaping headlong at Ares, the God of War, who effortlessly swats her away with the back of his hand as Diana’s friends, Etta Candy, Barbara Minvera, and Col. Michaelis, stand helplessly by, watching a battle they can barely comprehend. Ms. Scott’s rendering of Ares as he was designed by the great George Pérez is breathtaking. Her attention to detail, along with Romulo Fajardo, Jr.’s colors make the armored, cloaked figure nearly three-dimensional. His dark visage stands in imposing contrast to Diana’s armor, which seems to radiate optimism, with its shining gold breastplate and boot piping.

With Diana out of his way, Ares grabs Steve Trevor, one-handed by the throat and effortless carries him to a parked Land Rover, where he throws the helpless man onto the hood, flat on his back with his legs spread wide. Steve attempts to fight back, but his knife shatters against the war god’s impenetrable armor. Then Ares, atop Steve, covers his face with his hand to take what he wants — the location of Themyscira, Diana’s home. Diana interrupts Ares’ rape of Steve’s mind, hurtling herself at the dark god, knocking him off the man she loves.

This is such a perfect gender depiction of Steve’s role as Diana’s dude in distress. Steve, a strong, capable soldier is at the mercy of another male, one he cannot possibly overpower. He lies there, completely dominated by the war god, who is able to take whatever he wants. Fortunately, the woman he loves is there to rescue him.screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-9-48-27-am

With the knowledge that she cannot defeat Ares, but now knowing what he is after, Diana supplicates herself before him. She begs him to turn from his “blood-rage” and to show “courage in mercy.”  This is Marston’s Diana. She’s playing a game, gambling on a  couple of things. First, that Ares feeds on the frenzy of battle. By submitting to him, she stops feeding him. Now that he has “won”, he will bargain with her. She carefully crafts her answer to his demand for the knowledge he seeks: “If it is mine to grant, great God of War, that knowledge it thine.” It is not, however, hers to grant — a heartbreaking fact she is only just coming to understand.

Ares flies into a rage, realizing he cannot get what he wants from this encounter — like a petulant child, albeit an imposing demonic one. When Diana tells him that she has come to defend our world from him,  he delivers a chilling speech about the depth and strength of his hold on mankind, a speech that rings alarmingly true. “This world already belongs to me!” he declares. To which Diana, every bit the Wonder Woman, replies, “Then from you, we will take it back.”

Diana leaps again in to action, grabbing the blazing lasso at her side, and in a stunning two-page spread, binds the war god, aided by her patrons, in the form of various animals. During the battle, the owl (Athena) grabs one of the snakes that adorn Ares’ helmet (a detail I cannot help but think is significant, given Diana’s poisonous snakebite she sustained as a child.) Finally, on a gorgeous splash panel, Ares explodes under the power of the lasso into a host of dark creatures, ravens, insects, and two dogs — Diemos and Phobos, whom we have seen in the company of Veronica Cale.

And that’s just Acts I-III.

Though Ares has been vanquished for the moment, his plans to release the Maru Virus, a poison that causes those infected to fly into a homicidal rage, are still in motion. Fortunately, at that moment, an owl steals Barbara Minerva’s cell phone and, sitting on a surprised Steve Trevor’s shoulder, and uses it to reveal the SEAR group’s plan. When Rucka and Scott work together to make funny, the results are delightful.

Diana grabs her half-naked beefcake boyfriend and flies him to the United Nations, where the terrorist group intends to release the gas upon the children of world leaders and dignitaries who have been assembled in an auditorium. After evacuating the children, Diana gets gassed before she can escape. The poison amplifies her righteous rage and she grabs one of the terrorists by the throat, threatening him with a violent death. Not good, this woman with the power of the gods about to be unleashed upon humanity as an angel of deadly violence.

Then something happens. Diana’s magic lasso begins to overpower the neurotoxin. “This is not us. This is not me. This is not TRUE!” And in a blinding flash of light, Ares’ poisonous lies are dispelled and Diana is restored to her true nature, which is and has always been Love. And when she raises her head, there is the man she loves kneeling beside. Her. The way that she gazes at him tells everything. She’s back. She loves him. And she is deeply grateful to see him.

After stopping War with Love and making the liar tell the truth, Diana joins Barbara and Etta for cocktails and an epilogue, dressed in a collared shirt, knotted at the waist, one that resembles the shirt worn by Lynda Carter on the cover of her 1978 album, Portrait — a lovely, subtle nod to the actress who introduced Wonder Woman to an entire generation, including Nicola Scott. Etta and Barbara flirt with each other, teasing their budding romance, until Steve arrives with stack of newspapers.

15966010_10154136454746860_2932850405845766251_n.jpgThe press have dubbed Diana — Wonder Woman. Her new moniker is printed in headlines in various fonts which have graced the covers of comic books since the 1940s. What’s old is new again. Wonder Woman has arrived in America to save us from the forces of war, from our own terrible misguidedness, and to show us a better way — showing us that Love is our truest, most basic nature. What in Aphrodite’s name could be more heroic than that?

This stunning issue is Nicola Scott’s last for the foreseeable future, and she will be sorely missed. She has elevated Wonder Woman and added stunning depth, giving us what will go down in history as one of the character’s greatest stories of all time . You can follow her work in Black Magic, another fabulous series from her and Greg Rucka!