By C.J. Bunce
Dynamite Comics writer Paul Tobin promised readers “baguettes, bullets, and bionic badass” with his new Bionic Woman comic book series and Issue #1 delivers on the “bionic badass”. Although it feels more like a prologue to the series, because it spends the issue with backstory and tells more than it shows, it’s a good enough start to keep readers coming back for more.
Jaime Sommers has been completely updated from the 1970s cyborg superhero played by Lindsay Wagner, who spun off her own show from the original Six Million Dollar Man TV series that starred Lee Majors as Bionic Man Steve Austin. In the new Bionic Canon we have only seen Jaime in the origin story of Kevin Smith and Phil Hester’s rebooted Bionic Man series. There we learned she was Steve Austin’s girlfriend, but after Steve crashed and was turned into a cybernetic weapon of the Office of Scientific Intelligence or OSI, she was told Steve was dead and we know now she has moved on. We learn that they got back together once Steve recovered, and shortly thereafter Jaime plunged to the ground in a parachuting accident. Steve convinces Oscar Goldman & Company to rebuild her as they rebuilt him, and this occurs. Then they have a falling out. We don’t get a lot of information comparing Steve and Jaime’s bionics, but we do learn Jaime is “smoother” and “faster” than Steve.
So we now have Jaime Sommers, cybernetic human, a former teacher, who has lost most of her pre-surgery memories, on the run in Paris from the people who rebuilt her. Unlike the original Jaime, this new Bionic Woman has amped up abilities–if Lindsay Wagner was Bionic Woman 1.0, think of her as a Bionic Woman 8.0. In one scene we see that her bionics are smooth and form fitting with her arms and legs, a bit like the Terminator. But like the Terminatrix from Terminator 3, she can do many new, cool things, like camouflage herself by morphing her face to change her appearance. She can also download anything and everything from the Web into her brain… enormous amounts of information that she is yet to fully be able to control. And she knows kung-fu.
We meet her in Issue #1 on the run with another runner, apparently a bit of a bounty hunter searching out information to broker to others, including information on the illusive Ms. Sommers. Not knowing what she looks like, he reveals all that he knows–basically the backstory for readers–also letting Jaime in on what information he has on her. It doesn’t amount to much. She barely attempts to hide her identity, mainly because she is so confident in the outcome of the charade. She doesn’t have to hide. With a move of her arm she opens up a port releasing a nano-bug that temporarily incapacitates her comrade, and she is off to hide from watchers off the Grid.
But as she catches up with a friend in a restaurant a bullet pierces a nearby window en route to her head. And we are left with the series first cliffhanger ending. The villains are a new organization trying to steal cyborg parts from Bionic prototypes, predecessors to Jaime and Steve–presumably to use for others for a price.
Other than a quick peek at her cybernetics in her apartment, Jaime is not drawn as your typical female superhero. She wears a pant suit of sorts as she speeds through town across the cityscape. Leno Carvalho does not take the normal route here of skimpy outfits and emphasis on her feminity. This creates visually a more promising heroine for us to keep an eye on. She’s savvy, smart and sure-footed… a badass who can clear a room full of bad guys all by herself.
Issue #1 reveals big questions that writer Tobin will be taking us through in coming issues: Who is after Jaime? Why is she on the run? Why did she leave Steve? How did she end up in Paris? How long can she stay hidden? What other bionic tricks are up her sleeve (or accessible through her data ports)?
Issue #1 is available at all comic shops beginning this week and will be published monthly.