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The Bionic Woman #5 Review

Whoa. Great Hera, what just happened in The Bionic Woman #5? All the nostalgia in the world can't help this multi-car pile-up.

The previous issue ended with a big, huge, ginormous shock. Not a good one for one of the two men following Jamie Sommers and her girlfriend Nora. Steve Austin, The Bionic Man, Jamie's ex-boyfriend, and fellow OSI agent, gave her and Nora a lead to an address. Which is where they met Charlie, one of the agents from the mysterious Mission. He brought a flame-thrower to the party. Nora was tucked up in a spot on the roof with a rifle. Nora fired. Bullet meets flame-thrower, and Charlie's having a bad day.

What's really surprising is just how bad the writing, or the editorial direction of Paul Tobin's writing is. Two of the highlights on Tobin's writing resume are Marvel Adventures' Fantastic Four and Spider-Man books. The difference between those books and his writing here in The Bionic Woman #5, other than the Marvel books being all-ages and The Bionic Woman aiming for a slightly older audience, is that the Marvel books were one-and-done. Each issue was a self-contained story. The Bionic Woman #5 is the fifth chapter of a six part story. Which is the equialent of three hour-long episodes.

Comparisons are unfair, but in the media-tie in genre, DC and Marvel have a formula that works. That formula works especially well with the all-ages media tie-in books. The one-and-done formula is quick and painless. The reader is in and out, and more often than not there's very little sour after taste. This is a formula that lends itself to re-reading and better retension of the story. There have been successful instances of stretching a story over two issues, like what IDW is currently doing with the new Star Trek series. It is only when a story is distended, or padded, as it is here, for a future trade paperback that the story is stretched thin. There are rare enough instance of this working in mainstream comics, let alone a book based on a television series. IDW has had some success with six-issue arcs for its CSI properties. Unfortunately, Paul Tobin's script shows that isn't the case here.

Following the big bang at the end of last issue, as Charlie is being rushed to the hospital to treat his burns, Jamie and Nora are up in their room trying to recover from the incident. Nora is apologizing to Jamie for the setback this causes them. Breaker meets Charlie's ambulance at the hospital and comandeers it. The sequence is highlighted by following the path of a smiley face balloon as it is pretty nearly the thread that ties what is happening between Breaker and Charlie, and Jamie and Nora together.

Then something totally unexpected happens.

Jamie and Nora move on from Malta to Greece. As if they are on holiday. As if nothing happened. The scenery is great. The only clue is in the dialogue. Nora is angsting over what she's done. Then somehow she manages to comfort herself, with Jamie's encouragement, and move on to gossip about Jamie and Steve's relationship. It all just feels terribly, terribly awkward and wrong somehow. Nora is with Jamie in Greece, while Breaker takes Charlie for medical attention, that somehow involves bionic enhancement. How in the world does bionic enhancement solve things for a burn victim? It's possible that muscle and tendons were affected by the burns, but the premise set up for both The Bionic Man and The Bionic Woman is that the bionic enhancements were to replace shattered limbs. Jamie's legs, arm and hearing were replaced with bionics because they were shattered beyond surgical repair. Individuals with prosthetics have Jamie Sommers and Steve Austin as role models to identify with. People lose limbs and have them replaced with prosthetics. It just seems like another misstep to give a burn victim bionic limbs to solve his problem. It seems like a solution, because it is presented as one at the point of a gun, but it is more a convenient way to move the story along and taek it to the next level.

Another irregularity is that somehow Jamie and Nora make it from Greece to Italy, and to the main base of operations at a mansion there. Without any explanation Jamie shows up, jumps over the wall, takes out the security team and gains access to to the Mission's most vital data. Which she uploads to the internet. Later, she finds an organ farm in Spain and calls her former boss, Oscar Goldman, to clean it up. this is where she and Nora encounter both Breaker and Charlie again. Charlie uses his bionics in a shocking way to end this issue.

The Bionic Woman television series was a product of the classic '70's formula for storytelling. Unfortunately, it seems that bad '70's writing and storytelling has creeped into this new Bionc Woman series. Which is a shame. Jamie Sommers was not nearly as developed as a character as Steve Austin. Her television series was short-lived, only three seasons. The third season was on a competing network, and all connection to The Bionic Man was stripped away.

This storyline is not the best way to restart a classic character like The Bionic Woman. Instead of doing another typical multi-part story to re-launch Jamie Sommers back into action, maybe there should be a few stand-alone stories leading up to a larger, more epic story. It's a shame to see Jamie spinning out the pages of The Bionic Man - spinning out of control like this.     


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