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!!!
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!