Tobin Rebuilds "The Bionic Woman"

Earlier this month, Dynamite Entertainment announced the return of "The Bionic Woman" to an ongoing series in March. Written by Paul Tobin with art by Leno Carvalho, "The Bionic Woman" spins off of Kevin Smith and Phil Hester's "The Bionic Man" ongoing series, based on a screenplay Smith wrote for the property in 1998.

Fans of "The Bionic Woman" will remember Jaime Sommers and her adventures as an agent of the Office of Scientific Intelligence. Now, Tobin takes Jaime to Paris to piece together her past and thwart the plans of a mysterious organization known as The Mission, who sends their deadliest assassin to stop Jaime from ever completing her investigation.

Tobin spoke with CBR News about the upcoming series, the exploration of Jaime as a character in Kevin Smith's "Bionic Man" universe, the possibilities of Jaime on Twitter and her bionic dog, Maxamillion.

CBR News: Paul, what's the overview on "The Bionic Woman" and how does it connect to what Kevin Smith and Phil Hester are doing in "The Bionic Man?"

Paul Tobin: Jaime is drawn into a web of really nasty guys called The Mission -- a group of extremely talented, extremely mercenary doctors who have been (ahem, cough cough) "acquiring" body parts to sell to their billionaire clients. One thing leads to another for these people, and it eventually leads them to understand that the best body parts, the highest-priced body parts, are bionic. They have a whole list of where these bionic body parts can be (ahem, cough cough) "acquired," and Jaime finds herself on that list.

As far as how it connect with what Kevin Smith and Phil Hester are doing over on "Bionic Man," there will be some touches of crossovers between the two books, but we're staying away from intricately interweaving the two titles. That too often leads to confusing story lines, and at least for the launch period we wanted to stick to straight up establishment of who Jaime is, and where she's at in her life.

Before we go any further, what's your background with "The Bionic Woman?" Are you a longtime fan or a new one?

Longtime fan. I remember running across the original "Bionic Woman" television show when I was young. It was in reruns at the time, and I was already a big fan of the Bionic Man and Jaime's adventures on that show. The shows were cheesy, of course, but they were fun and the characters had heart to them. Also, there was a whole toy line that was absolutely aces. They were 12" figures, so they absolutely dominated He-Man and G.I. Joe and the other action figures whenever we were playing in the dirt with them. It took a Transformer to stand up to them.

Let's talk about Jaime for a moment. How have you updated her for a modern audience while still staying true to her roots as a character?

That's certainly the goal. I really haven't played with any of the core aspects of her life. There are certainly some additional surprises along the way, but there wasn't anything that I could (or wanted) to discard -- not without changing her into someone completely different, and I always hate those kind of complete makeovers. It never makes sense to me to have someone release a comic/book/movie with a message of, "We knew you wanted to see Captain Bombast, and HERE HE IS! Except we've discarded his magic shield and his talking parrot and we made him into a leprechaun and disbanded his Bombasticons and he's also now a cyborg from the future and his name is Mr. Crushskulls." What's the point of that?

Jaime usually operates solo, but will there be a supporting cast for the book? If so, who are they and what are their relationships to Jaime?

There's a woman named Nora that Jaime teams up [with], the owner of a store in Paris that gets drawn into everything. She and Jaime will be friends, mostly. And there are two characters that appear in the 1st arc that might not seem like much at first, but they'll cycle back around to become rather important. Beyond that, I hate to give anything away.

The first issue is set in Paris -- will the series remain there or will you be taking Jaime to other locations as well?

Paris remains a big part of the first arc, but at the same time Jaime is going to be running up some very impressive frequent flyer miles. The bad guys are all over the world in this one, and Jaime very much wants to travel to their homes, knock on their doors, have a spot of tea, and then punch them all very hard in the face.

Will readers be seeing any crossover between your book and "The Bionic Man?"

We play with it, sure. And Steve Austin is a part of Jaime's life, and I'm not going to ignore that aspect. At the same time, I don't want to get too far drawn into other storylines, because it can have an unfortunate side effect of diluting some aspects of the story. But... Steve? Yeah? He and Jaime have words.

You're no stranger to writing strong heroines, considering your work on Marvel's "Spider-Girl." How did you approach designing the character of Jaime?

I wanted her to be smart, first of all. For some reason I'm perfectly happy with an occasional big dumb man being a hero, but I prefer adventurous women to be smart. It's a survival trait. Jaime has brains and common sense. And her bionics help her to pack a punch. Right now, she's a bit confused in life, though. She's lost a lot of her memory, and she's struggling to find an identity. Everything that came afterwards was based on these three aspects of her character -- she's smart, she's capable, but she's still finding her footing.

Speaking of "Spider-Girl," you used social media to really bring that character to life with her own Twitter account. Will social media be a component in your work on "The Bionic Woman?"

Not in the beginning, but it's possible something might develop later on. The Spider-Girl twitter was an experiment that I learned a lot from, and Jaime is certainly suited for social media, because of, uhh, secret things.

Any chance we'll see Jaime's dog, Maximillion, make an appearance?

Max? He of the bionic jaw? I hadn't planned anything right away, but... I really do like dogs.

"The Bionic Woman" #1 powers up in March.

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