DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS
What exactly is a comic book? And why is The Bionic Woman still gracing them?
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2012
The Bionic Woman in Comic Books
A completely non-expert review from a non-con-girl.
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Warning: This could be the equivalent of your boyfriend’s attempt to understand why every woman not only owns Steel Magnolias on DVD, she can still quote a line from it at least once a day. Yes, I often remind my dog in my Claree voice, "I love ya more than my luggage."
So it just might be that I don't quite get the subject matter I am reviewing. But I do come out of this experiment with a tremendous sense of achievement. I totally read two books today.
I am sure when I was a girl I must have perused one or two of my brother's comic books, but I honestly don't remember. These were just never something that interested me. I liked the kind of activity books that required crayons. Comic Books were already colored-in, so like, what was the point? Plus they weren't funny like comic strips, so the name "comic" was totally misleading. I probably boycotted them in protest.
After doing some recent demographic research, I discovered the reason I don't have an inherent interest in comic books is because I'm not really supposed to. At least not statistically. I passed that age group more than a couple years ago (we won't discuss), and female audiences in general appear to be a very small percentage of their target, and always have been—even as girls. Hence the more common nickname for readers and collectors known as "Fanboys."
But this past year, I've been running into a lot of Bionic fans who are avid comic book collectors and readers (even some women), so I finally decided to see what I was missing, especially since there was a brand new Dynamite series being issued on the Bionic Woman with much excitement. Although this made me skittish—in an NBC foiled remake kind of way—that they would completely not *get* our Jaime Sommers. That she would bionic-smack people around simply because she could, using a lot of salty dialogue in order to compete with her more violent superhero counterparts. No touching scenes snuggling with kittens or spending an afternoon flipping through scrapbooks with Helen over a cup of Folger’s coffee.
But I was determined to try to keep an open mind, and to play fair, I also found the first edition Bionic Woman from Charlton Comics released in 1977. This way, I could compare the old Jaime with the new. Each had one shot to introduce me to the character. Could at least one of these grab me and help me see the light on the fabulousness of Comic Books and make me want to rush to the store to buy the next one? I found a used '77 one for about $15, and paid about $11 for the new Dynamite issue with shipping.
Best bang for the buck? Definitely the 1977 version. I got a true "comic" fix with major ROFLs on every page. Some blatant racial profiling on an airline (Jaime was a stewardess undercover), weak plots, and a hysterical attempt in the sidebar story entitled "Birth of the Bionic Woman" to factually re-tell the history of Jaime based on the "television program." For example, the storyteller finishes her bionic rejection tragedy with, "Brain surgery is required to save Jaime. After the successful operation, Jaime returns to her home town…" WTF? If anybody knows where I can get this version that didn’t leave Jaime dead as a doornail and Steve in tears, I’d sure like to have that DVD instead.
As you might expect, the 2012 version of the Bionic Woman is a bit more sophisticated in storytelling with the pace of an action thriller, and there's a much more serious yarn unfolding about the mystery of Jaime Sommers as they introduce her backstory. Most of her original identity as we know it remains intact, with references to her relationship with Steve and occupation as a school teacher. But they have given her more than bionic parts… she also has a chameleon-type ability that lets her physically morph into different faces and skin tones (that Rudy Wells is still a genius), plus they point out she's super intelligent, and (shock) someone is after her for her bionic secrets.
The first time I saw the cover of the 2012 issue, I admit to busting out laughing. Sorry, but doesn't this look like a Jane Fonda workout video? And what is this character pose supposed to say, besides ‘Jaime Sommers has an arrogant, nose in the air attitude, but enjoys the wind blowing through her beautiful hair.’ It kinda reminds me of that creepy pose Angelina Jolie made at the Oscars this year. Compare this to the 1977 Jaime above, who first grabs you with a really nice smile, and then proceeds to kick the crap out of a bad guy. I much prefer this original Bionic Woman character approach.
I decided not to go into any more detail on either edition, because the overall essence of these stories within really sorta follows the image conveyed in their covers.
The 1977 Bionic Woman: Puts others before herself.
The 2012 Bionic Woman: A bit self-absorbed.
For sale: 2 Bionic Woman comic books. Gently used.
The Bionic Woman and the character of Jaime Sommers are © Universal Studios. This website is produced by a fan just for fun, and is in no way affiliated with, nor endorsed by, Universal Studios or the cast or crew of this series. No copyright infringement is intended.