Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman collects the full six-issue miniseries (published by Dynamite, in concert with DC Comics) by writer Andy Mangels, artist Judit Tondora, colorist Roland Pilcz and letterers Kathryn S. Renta, Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis. The series is a striking combination of the two heroes that manages to tell an adventure that would be entertaining even if you knew nothing about either hero, but was filled with a meticulous collection of Easter Eggs for devoted fans of the character (which Mangels clearly is).
Last year, when this series was ending, Andy Mangels shared with us an annotated look at all of the Easter Eggs and references to the Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman TV series that he included in the first five issues of the comic (here‘s #1-2, here‘s #3-4 and here‘s #5). Thinking about all of those Easter Eggs in the context of the series made me think of another comic book series that reminded me of what Mangels has accomplished with this crossover. It really reminded me of Don Rosa’s classic storyline, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” That story was Rosa going through old Carl Barks comic books to tell the life story of Scrooge McDuck based on Barks’ offhand references about Scrooge’s past over the decades that Barks wrote the character.
What reminded me of that storyline is the fact that Mangels, like Rosa before him, was meticulous in both his attention to the past of the characters and to making sure that everything made sense with the histories of the characters as best as they could (both Mangels and Rosa made sure to include a ton of Easter Eggs as references to previous stories), but at the same time, the fact of the matter is that neither story relied on their references. This series is not about a collection of Easter Eggs. The Easter Eggs are great, don’t get us wrong, but they’re there as bonuses to the main story, not as a substitute for the story.
You don’t have to be able to pick Jamie Sommers out from a lineup of Buffy Summers, Suzanne Somers and Donna Summer to be able to enjoy this comic book series, based just on the enjoyable plot and the lively, dynamic artwork from Judit Tondora and Roland Pilcz.
One of the things that really stood out in this adventure is Mangels’ willingness to use his format to his advantage. This is a comic book about two TV heroines, but the fact of the matter is that it is a comic book, and therefore Mangels should not feel obligated to follow the same rules as the TV series, and he does not, as he brings in action sequences far more epic that ever could be achieved on a television series budget.
In addition, one of the main villains in the series is Doctor Cyber, with a design made especially for this comic book series that never would have worked if the character was shown on a TV screen, and yet it totally works on the printed page.
As for scale, the comic involves the invasion of Paradise Island by an army of Fembots, while Paradise Island is defended by a variety of Amazon characters who never got a chance to show up in the Wonder Woman TV series (mostly because they were not invented until years later, like Artemis and General Phillipus)….
However awesome the action sequences are in this series (and they’re bonkers) and as much as I dug Mangels’ armor designs for new Amazonian battle armor for both Jamie and Wonder Woman…
what I think I liked the best about this story were all of the little character moments throughout the book. Like when Wonder Woman gave a Hebrew blessing to the daughter of Joe Atkinson following his death…
These are the little details that not only go to Mangels’ deep understanding of how these characters work and how they think, but it adds a deeper sense of feeling to the story beyond just a simple action-adventure.
This is simply a well-told comic book series that has a rip-roaring adventure for the adventure fans, personal moments for the people who dig character work in their comics and a pile of Easter Eggs for fans who are just obsessed with the Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman TV series and will die over every little obscure reference that they catch.
It’s a great series and I’d love to see more stories set in this shared universe by Mangels and Tondora.