The Bionic Woman is a book that seems to be destined to develop a small, cult following in it's fight to keep from being crowded off local comic book store shelves by other, more mainstream books. It's an all uphill fight, considering the daunting $3.99 cover price, multiple covers and an audience that could shrink from one issue to the next. Picking up The Bionic Woman, you don't have to be a child of the '70's, but it does help. Nostalgia goes a long way.
If the '70's are remembered for anything, it could be for the open, brazen objectifying of women. The decade was dominated by shows like Three's Company, starring Suzanne Summers, Joyce DeWitt and the late John Ritter; and, Charlie's Angels, originally starring Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett. Both shows aired on ABC. There was also a short-lived CBS series about airline stewardess - today they are considered "flight attendants" whether male or female - notably starring Connie Sellecca, who would go on to '80's fame with The Greatest America Hero.
The question is, who remembers Joyce DeWitt, Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith? None of them had a poster like this:
Then, of course, there was Lynda Carter and her amazing, shrinking costume on CBS' Wonder Woman. No one remembers her costume from the time the series was on ABC, and the show was set during World War II, mainly because the costume was not as flattering as this:
And then, there was Jaime Sommers. The Bionic Woman, a counterpart to the '70's series, The Six Million Dollar Man, was like taking Kate Jackson or Joyce DeWitt, doing a bionic makeover and transforming either of them into Farrah Fawcett or Lynda Carter. Her bionic abilities made actress Lindsay Wagner cool.
She had that "girl-next-door" appeal, with the really cool super powers. She could run as fast as The Bionic Man; lift and throw things as good as The Bionic Man; but, the unique thing about The Bionic Woman was that she had sensitive hearing due to her bionics.
All of her abilites came about due to a tragic sky-diving accident.
This is The Bionic Woman that is back. As a new reader, you don't have to have all the detailed history on the character, but it does help. Nostalgia does go a long way.
The Bionic Woman #4 continues The Mission storyline. Unfortunately, this issue does not come with a recap of what has gone before, so this issue feels like changing channels, or coming back into the room from a fridge or bathroom break. Hopefully, The Mission storyline will be collected in trad paperback to read completely through.
The issue is not short on action, though.
Jaime and her sidekick, Nora, are on a sinking yacht with an unidentified man handcuffed to a bedpost. On the dock, Breaker, his partner Charlie and their henchmen are standing by as Breaker assembles a rocket launcher and fires it at the yacht. What is enjoyable is not the gratuitous pyrotechnics, but the actual impact. Unforuntaley, there is some gratuitous violence as the unnamed informant is fatally shot before he can tell either Jaime or Nora about The Mission.
Their search for answers take them clubbing through Paris, until the come across a lead provided for them by Steve Austin, The Bionic Man. His cameo appearance begs the question, what was Paul Tobin doing for three pages, except showing off the Paris nightlife and getting Nora drunk. That just felt like filler, a very long transition from the action to the information.
But, true to '70's television formula, following the pointless glitz, Steve provides Jaime with just the lead she needs to find Charlie and turn the tables on him and Breaker.
Aside from The Bionic Woman, Paul Tobin has written Falling Skies, Fringe, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four, Marvel Adventures The Avengers, and the all-ages Spider-Man titles. Here, his work is interpreted by Juan Antonio Ramirez, with colors by Mark Roberts and letters by Simon Bowland. The story this issue is an interesting one that only falls flat near the end because it's a segment of a larger whole. There's really no background to catch up to speed on to start this issue and the final reveal is coming either in the next issue or the one after that.
Still, The Bionic Woman #4 is worth picking up. There needs to be more comics that feature strong female role models, like Jaime Sommers. She is a character that should be both smart and strong and worth reading.