I can remember back in the mid- to late- 1970s seeing at grocery and convenience stores various comics published by a little company known as Charlton Comics. They had characters I did not recognize (Judo Master, Captain Atom, Vengeance Squad, etc.) and, well, to be honest, their books just didn't have the flashy pizzazz that Marvel and DC comics did at the time. To me (at that time), they appeared to be nothing but cheap knock-offs.
Now, looking back, I realize how wrong I was!
Charlton put out some very unique and actually fairly decent titles at the time. I have since read the E-man series by Joe Staton and thoroughly enjoyed the humor in the series. I've read some of the Blue Beetle issues and found them to also be pretty good. And just recently, I finished reading the short-lived 5-issue run of The Bionic Woman by Charlton.
I remember watching The Bionic Woman as a child, and I absolutely loved the show. Jaime Sommers rated right up there with Wonder Woman (another show of that era that I couldn't get enough of). I tried watching that horrendous remake on NBC some years back, but it just didn't cut the mustard. I did buy and read the entire series published by Dynamite Comics recently (both the Kevin Smith-related version, as well as the Season Four mini-series), and while they were enjoyable, they still didn't have the feel of the '70s television show.
This 5-issue run by Charlton, however - well, quite frankly, it felt closer to the original show tha any of the others. Charlton doesn't seem to have been big on crediting their creators, and doing a search on the internet, I can't seem to find anywhere the identity of the author of these tales (although I did find that Jack Sparling provided the art for the series), so I'm not really sure who to thank for these entertaining tales.
The first couple of issues sported two illustrated tales, with a one or two page prose story at the end. The last few issues lengthened the illustrated story to just one tale per issue and a short prose story at the end. The series maintains not only Jaime's involvement with the OSI, but also highlights her career as a teacher, as several of the tales center around her students. One of the stories actually finds a student being kidnapped (along with Jaime), while another finds her as a substitute teacher in order to get close to a student's father who is holding government plans.
The author captures her personality pretty much dead-on, and the artist, while not exactly able to depict Lindsay Wagner, does manage to give us glimpses of the actress here and there (although he never does manager to depict Rudy Wells very well). The stories are a close match to the television tales, with the exception of issue 4, which dealt with a man who created his own android female (perhaps this was a spin on the Fembots stories from the TV show - which, by the way, are still today my favorite episodes). The story was far more sci-fi than reality-based like the other issues of the series.
It's a shame the series only lasted five issues, but from what I can find online, it came to an end because Charlton pretty much ground to a halt at that point with publishing new material. Truly a shame, as there was a lot of potential with this series and the character, even after the television show was cancelled.
RATING: 8 bionic sound effects out of 10 for giving me brand new tales of one of my favorite female television heroes.