Wonder Woman '77 Special #1
Artist: Drew Johnson, Matt Haley, Jason Badower, Richard Ortiz, Nicola Scott, Annette Kwock
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston and drawn by Harry G. Peter
Wonder Woman ’77 is an attempt to capitalize on the nostalgic appeal of the only adaptation of William Moulton Marston’s comics heroine to have gained widespread fame, let alone universal acclaim. While fans debate the merits of Adam West vs. Michael Keaton, as far as the general public is concerned Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman. That's the central appeal and crucial limitation of this series. Every panel or page is suffused by her iconic presence. The other protagonist is, of course, the 70s itself. For anyone drawn to such cultural signifiers such as the Cold War, polyester shirts, hot pants, bell bottoms, roller skates, disco and Studio 54, this comic has them covered.
As such, the art team assembled for this series is tasked with capturing Carter's and Lyle Wagonner's appearance. There's inevitably some variation in how well they succeed in their task which might be distracting to some of the more attentive readers. Nicola Scott and Annette Kwock supply a pinup for the cover to this collection which is such an archetypical representation of Carter's Wonder Woman that nothing inside quite matches it, though Jason Badower draws several panels of Diana Prince that are near perfect in their photorealism. While Matt Haley and Richard Ortiz can portray a passable action sequence, the interior art leans heavily towards illustrative detail than to efficient comic book style storytelling. Drew Johnson doesn't make the characters particularly close in resemblance to the television cast, but he's the best in reproducing the "mod" sensibilities of the era. Diana's white pantsuit may well be also be a nod to the Denny O'Neil era Wonder Woman. Uniting all these artistic efforts is colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr., who bathes everyone in a warm rose-tinted glow that imbues every page with a faded quality.
The WW'77 Special collects two stories which mimic the episodic structure of the TV series. But writer Marc Andreyko isn't all that faithful to the source material, as the series itself played fast and loose with the original comic book. Andreyko adds those missing comic book elements which a late 70s show would not have been able to include due to budgetary constraints or the limitations of special effects. The most obvious insertion is WW's rogues gallery. Sonic-powered villain Silver Swan is reimagined as a nightclub diva with a hypnotic voice and accompanied by two backup singers who are also capable fighters called the Starlings. As drawn by Johnson she reminds me of a more fabulous version of Marvel's Dazzler. Cheesy but appropriate to the spirit of the show. By contrast Doctor Psycho is disappointingly generic as a short, elderly, white haired man sporting a lab coat and an elaborate salad bowl shaped helmet that seems to be the source of his powers. But I suppose the look is meant to recall a cheap television studio prop, so I'll give it a pass.
But the most notable villain of the comic is another Wonder Woman who's a not so subtle reference the mostly forgotten Cathy Lee Crosby version. For a time, she even has Diana confused about her own identity. But she eventually rallies and defeats her nemesis because there can only be one true WW. The book isn't very shy about hammering in that message.