Justice League Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 26 (13 stories)
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Widescreen, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

The second season of the animated Justice League series is bigger and the stakes are higher. Again, most stories are two parts, except the Holiday episode, “Comfort and Joy” and the three-part season finale “Starcrossed”. The season opens with Orion attacking and defeating one of Darkseid’s attacks, but as Darkseid recovers, he’s attacked by Brainiac – Darkseid convinces the Justice League to help him. They work with Highfather to stop Brainiac’s attack, but it puts New Genesis in danger.

In “Only a Dream”, Doctor Destiny traps most of the Justice League in nightmares, but insomniac Batman is able to defeat Doctor Destiny.

In “Maid of Honor” Wonder Woman befriends the party girl princess of Kasnia. Despite at first complaining about the princess’s lack of responsibility, the two bond and have fun. The princess confesses she doesn’t even want to marry her fiancé but she must as part of her duty. When her father has a sudden “stroke” the marriage is moved up. Diana is shocked that the Kasnian princess’s new husband is Vandal Savage. The Justice League ends up interfering when Savage threatens the world with an orbiting rail gun satellite.

This season features an episode with the Justice Lords – an alternate Earth Justice League that became world dictators after the death of their Flash. The fight scenes in the second part are particularly good because our Justice League doesn’t face off against their own opposite numbers but fights other members. This allows them to succeed.

“The Terror Beyond” has Aquaman, Doctor Fate, and Solomon Grundy fighting off Cthulhu-like monsters. Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and Superman stop Dr. Fate’s spell to close the gate that’s been opened to the horrific monsters. Eventually, Fate, Aquaman, and Grundy are able to convince Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and Superman that they must stop the creatures. While Fate and his group try to close the gate again, Superman and company go through it to stop the invasion from the other side. This two-parter is visually stunning, and the “mad” monsters from the Cthulhu-like beings are drawn well.

“Secret Society” features another group of B-rate super-villains banding together to drive apart the Justice League. However, by spying on the league their plan almost works and the league splits and each go their own way. It takes Batman, who discovers the surveillance to get the League back together so they can defeat the”Secret Society of Evil”.

In “Hereafter” it appears Superman is killed in a battle with Toyman. While the world deals with its grief, and tries to process a world without a Superman – Superman is actually thrust forward into the far future. He meets Vandal Savage who has finally figured out that ruling an empty, destroyed planet is no fun at all. Superman and Savage finish a time machine Savage was working on and send Superman back to his own time.

In “Wild Cards” the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) and the Wild Card gang take over Las Vegas. The Joker airs the chaos on TV, like some type of reality show. Joker has also placed a large number of bombs, some real, some fake all over Vegas – the League has to find and dismantle the bombs.

Finally in “Starcrossed”, an alien spaceship attacks Washington DC, but the ship is destroyed by Thangarian ships. Thangar gets world leaders to accept their “protection”. However, they later impose martial law. Later it turns out the Thangarians aren’t building a shield for the Earth to protect it from a Gordanian invasion – rather they are building a hyperspace bypass engine so the Thangarians can invade to Gordanian homeworld. Unfortunately, activating the hyperspace bypass will destroy the Earth. It also turns out Hawkgirl was an advance scout and spy for the Thangarians. She is also promised or engaged to one of the other Thangarians – which surprises Green Lantern. The League is upset that Hawkgirl betrayed them. But when Hawkgirl finds out Thanagar intends to destroy the Earth she jumps sides, frees the League from their prison on one of the Thangarian ships, and helps the League defeat the Thanagarians and destroy the hyperspace bypass engine. The League decides to take a vote as to if Hawkgirl will still be accepted in the League, but Hawkgirl leaves first.

Justice League Season 2 is bigger than the first season, and the Justice League faces bigger threats. This is still top-notch animation. There are again several notable guest performances. I highly recommend this season.

Read my review of Justice League Season 1.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 4: Queens

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 4: Queens
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Marguerite Sauvage (art & colors), Richard Ortiz, Sandy Jarrell, Pasqualle Qualano, Matías Jarrell,  J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Jerry Lawson (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batgirls, Batwoman (Kate Kane), Renee Montoya (The Question), Hawkgirl, Catwoman, Vixen, Cheetah, Wonder Woman
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/12/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells is DC Comics’ alternative history World War II series starring an all-female superhero team. I love the concept and usually really enjoy the series, but I must admit that this volume was confusing and disjointed.

The first story is short and fairly straightforward. It features the Batgirls, the young girls and teenagers who were inspired by Kate Kane’s Batwoman to protect Gotham City, especially anyone who is dispossessed. They have taken in Harvey Dent, and the story opens with Dent and the Batgirls watching a baseball game. At the game, Dent is attacked by The Reaper. The Reaper makes it clear they want to kill Harvey, the Penguin, Killer Frost, and Dr. Hugo Strange. The Batgirls decide that as bad as those villains are they belong in jail and shouldn’t be killed so they go to warn them. They warn Penguin first, but Reaper follows the Batgirls (and Harvey Dent) and kidnaps Frost. The Batgirls are able to rescue Frost and to arrest Penguin who offers up info in exchange for Frost being rescued. But during a conflict with the Reaper they find out he is a she, and Harvey is attacked with an ice blast and his face is disfigured. But the Batgirls convince him it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. Lois goes after the Reaper who escapes and is after Dr. Hugo Strange.

The second story is about Vixen, Zambesi, and Hawkgirl. I had to read it several times because it was very confusing and hard to follow. In addition, there were several flashbacks which filled in the backgrounds of the characters – except the placement of the flashbacks were weird – characters would be in the middle of a battle and suddenly they are thinking of their childhood as an orphan. It’s like, huh? For example, towards the end, Wonder Woman shows up in the middle of a big battle between the Bombshells, some Thangarian mechs, and Nazis – but instead of seeing her battle everyone, we get a flashback to Supergirl on Thermyscira mourning Stargirl and Diana and Steve Trevor trying to figure out how to comfort her. It’s interesting and follows up to Supergirl losing Stargirl in the last volume but it has nothing to do with the current story, it interrupted the battle, and it really didn’t make sense to be in the book where it was. And the majority of the flashbacks were like that – they were interesting, and by themselves, I liked the mini-stories, but they interrupted the flow of the novel making it even harder to figure out just what was going on.

Mari McCabe, Vixen, competes in the 1936 Olympics – beating the Nazis super soldier, despite said soldier trying to trip her during the race. That night, she and Hawkgirl break into Hitler’s office and are attacked by a mechanical hawk. Mari steals Hitler’s dog, Blondie, and some plans and heads back to Zambesi with Hawkgirl. Mari remarks they have about five years to figure out a plan. Later, at a dig in Zambesi, Kate Kane, Catwoman, Renee Montoya, Hawkgirl, and Mari (Vixen) are investigating another mech – this time a giant rhino. It seems inactive, but then Cheetah shows up and it goes on a rampage.

The Bombshells are set against Cheetah, the Baroness, the Snakegirl (Whisper A’Daire), the mechs – which turn out to be from Thanagar, and miscellaneous Nazi troops. The primary characters are Vixen, Kate Kane (Batwoman), Renee Montoya (the Question), Wonder Woman (at the very end), Hawkgirl, Blondie (the dog), and Catwoman. When Cheetah, the Baroness, Snakegirl and the rest show-up, Catwoman briefly appears to be still working for the Nazis – but it’s a ruse. We also briefly see Alexander Luthor, who gives Wonder Woman Kryptonite and seems to be controlling the strings, especially in the case of Catwoman.

The Bombshells defeat the Thanagarian mechanical beasts – and Wonder Woman offers the recipe for Greek Fire to truly destroy them rather than bury them again. The Nazis and their allies are driven out of Zambesi.

I like the Bombshells series – it’s just fun to see so many female heroes working together. And I really like the friendships between the various characters. I did like the background stories in Volume 4 – Queens. And the modern-day story of extremely old alien tech being uncovered and causing trouble for everyone (the Nazis and their allies think they can control the Mechs – they are wrong) I also liked. But the presentation was extremely confusing. The time jumps were hard to follow, and as interesting as the background information was – it often seemed to interrupt the “present day” story rather than add to it. I still highly recommend the Bombshells series. This is an excellent series for teenaged women to read and to get introduced to comics too.

Justice League Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes:  26 (12 stories)
  • Discs:  3
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Standard, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

Justice League was the first of the DCAU series that I ever saw and even nearly ten years later the series still stands up. The members of the Justice League are: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz), Flash, and Hawkgirl. The individual episodes of Justice League are 30 minutes (well, 22-25) but in this season every story consists of two or three parts. This means that it’s more like watching a series of short movies than a normal animated television series. The stories have plenty of time for characterization and in-depth storytelling. Justice League also doesn’t waste time on traditional “origin stories”. The first episode, “Origins” has Batman and Superman confronting an actual alien invasion, including a first shot of the tripod-like invading machine that’s reminiscent of George Pal’s War of the Worlds. Superman is telepathically attacked but finds Martian Manhunter being held in a military prison. He and Batman free Martian Manhunter and learn his name is J’onn J’onzz and that he’s the last survivor of Mars. J’onn tells him the beings that threaten the entire Earth had attacked Mars and destroyed their entire civilization. Other leaguers-to-be, including Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Flash, and Wonder Woman join the fight against the alien invaders, eventually defeating the alien menace. Batman proposes building a satellite Watchtower to warn of future invasions. Superman proposes a permanent league of superheroes. Flash asks, “What a type of superfriends?” to which Batman replies, “More like a Justice League”. This sets the stage for the series.

Green Lantern is given an in-depth story, “In Blackest Night” in which he is put on trial for destroying an entire inhabited alien planet while in pursuit of a space pirate. Once the league discovers what’s happened, they rush to his defense. Martian Manhunter and the others are able to prove the planet’s destruction was an illusion orchestrated by the Manhunters (different Manhunters than on Mars, these are androids from Oa the home of the Green Lantern Corps, and the Guardians first attempt at a benevolent galaxy-wide police force). The league frees Jon Stewart Green Lantern and the Flash, who acted as his advocate, clears John’s name, then defends Oa from the Manhunters with the aid of the Green Lantern Corps.

“The Enemy Below” is a modern Aquaman story, and although Aquaman doesn’t formally join the League, he is recognized as the King of under the seas.

“Injustice for All” has Lex Luthor bringing together a group of supervillains to fight the Justice League, especially Superman. It doesn’t go well for Lex.

“Paradise Lost” sees Felix Faust attack Thermyscira, turn all the Amazons to stone, and bribe Wonder Woman to find a McGuffin in three parts – the Key to the Underworld. Wonder Woman and the League find the key but are very worried about what Faust will do to it. Faust releases Hades, who then drains him of life (not the reward he was expecting). The Justice League is able to defeat Hades and return the Amazons to life. But Hippolyta decides to follow Amazon law to the letter and banishes her daughter for bringing men to the island.

“War World” is a slugfest with Superman forced to fight in the War World arena for Mondo.

“The Brave and the Bold” has Gorilla Grood taking over Central City after a scientist accidentally reveals the location of Gorilla City.

“Fury” has a refugee who was raised as an Amazon on Thermyscira reviving Luthor’s Injustice League and launching a biological attack on the world’s men. But Hippolyta reveals that Aresia was actually rescued by a man who got her to Thermyscira before dying.

“Legends” has the League transported to a parallel Earth where the heroes resemble Golden Age comics heroes and John Stewart (GL) recognizes the heroes as heroes from the comics he read as a kid. The “Justice Guild of America” is locked in battle with the “Injustice League” but something doesn’t seem right. J’onn J’onzz keeps having telepathic flashes of a disaster. One of the League members finds the graves of the entire JGA. Eventually, they discover the entire dimension was destroyed in a Nuclear War and a telepathic mutant had re-created the “perfect” world of years ago. The story works both as a story and as a comment on the good and the really bad aspects of older Golden Age comics. After the illusion is broken the League members are able to find a way back to their own Earth.

“A Knight with Shadows,” tells the story of Jason Blood, Etrigan the Demon, Morgaine, Merlin, and Modred. It’s as close to a traditional origin story as season 1 of Justice League gets. But it’s also a great story full of Arthurian lore, magic, demons, etc. For the most part, only Batman is in this story, though the rest of the League lend a hand at the end. I enjoyed the story very much.

“Metamorphosis,” tells the story of Rex Mason who is turned into the Element Man – rather than an archeologist, he works for Stagg Industries and is rich and accomplished, but when he and Sapphire Stagg decide to marry, her overprotective and cruel father decides to use Mason as an unwilling human subject in his plan to create artificial workers who can withstand any environment. Mason and John Stewart are also old friends, having both been in military service together. Although Mason’s origin is substantially different, it’s a great story, and very enjoyable.

The final story in season one is the three-part “The Savage Time”. All of the Justice League but Batman are returning from a mission in space when there’s a flash on Earth below them and the Watchtower disappears. Green Lantern lands the Javelin spacecraft (which was apparently out of power because he’s towing it with his Ring). The Justice League discovers the US is now a dictatorship under the power of a mysterious Leader. They walk into a resistance attack on the military police of the leader and run into a different version of Batman who is the leader of the Resistance. Working with Batman, they discover a time tunnel anomaly. The League, minus Batman, enters the anomaly and finds themselves in World War II. There they join the allies, the Blackhawks, Easy Company, Steve Trevor and other forces to help the allies and defeat Savage before he can become a world dictator. “The Savage Time” is a brilliant story, and also a lot of fun to watch. (Savage in the future sent a laptop and plans for weapons and communications equipment to Savage in the past.) This is a much more menacing Vandal Savage than the one in Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow.

Overall, I really enjoyed Justice League (the animated series). The regular and guest casts are wonderful, and the series features many well-known and excellent guest actors. The animation is hand-drawn and beautiful and has that traditional DCAU square-jawed look. I highly recommend this series. Even if animation usually isn’t your thing, or you’ve tried the live action DC film Universe and been unimpressed, this series overcomes many of the faults of other versions of DC Comics in both older animation and in live action.

Note: For some reason, the Blu-Ray discs auto-play the first episode whenever a disc is put in the player. You can get a list of episodes by pressing the “Top Menu” button and then choosing the episode you want to watch, but it’s still annoying and results in a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the disc.

Wonder Woman Season 3 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 24
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The third season of Wonder Woman starts with several very weak episodes. It’s almost as if the creative team didn’t expect the show to get picked up and they had to use whatever they had available to produce as scripts – including ones rejected from the previous season. The series starts to pick-up with “Skateboard Whiz”, which, despite the awful title is actually a pretty good episode. Diana goes on vacation in California to visit a former IDAC agent and her teenaged daughter. The daughter is into skateboarding, thus the title. Anyway, Diana is really there on vacation, not an investigation, but a shady casino owner is trying to buy up the town and using nefarious means to do so. When an old friend of Diana’s, a police officer who is now working security for the casino owner, spots Diana, he meets with her to find out why she’s there. Diana tells this former police officer that she thinks is her friend she’s “on vacation”. No one believes her. For once Diana really is on vacation, but the bad guys assume she must be undercover – so they go after her. They even kidnap the teenager at the skateboarding championship she’s entered. Diana as Wonder Woman spins into a skateboard outfit (basically her swimsuit but with elbow pads and a helmet) to rescue the girl. It’s better than it sounds.

As with “Skateboard Whiz” there are several average to good action-oriented episodes in the third season. There’s an episode with an SF convention as the backdrop, which, although it uses some of the negative tropes about SF fans isn’t wholly offensive. Diana accidentally meets up with an old friend while on assignment and he has a moon rocks exhibit at the convention that is interesting (though his idea of bright flashing lights and a tilting floor to simulate being in space makes most people nauseous). “The Starships are Coming” seems to be inspired by Orsen Welles 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast as a small town in Pennslyvania experiences a rash of UFO sightings followed by a series of faked broadcasts of an “alien attack”. However, the entire thing is arranged by a Conservative politician who uses the attack to convince an Air Force General who worked on Project Blue Book to launch a nuclear warhead at China. Fortunately, Wonder Woman stops the Air Force general and reveals the entire thing to be fake.

There are two two-parter episodes in the set, including the final story. Both are pretty good, simply because with more time they can breathe a bit more and the stories are more fleshed out. Oddly enough, the first one, “The Boy Who Knew Her Secret” concerns an actual alien invasion. In a very Doctor Who-like story, 99 pyramid-shaped rocks land near a small California town. When someone finds one of the rocks and picks it up they are taken over by an alien force. But it turns out the aliens are interstellar police looking for an escaped convict – a shapeshifter responsible for thousands of deaths. Once this becomes clear, Wonder Woman has to help find this shapeshifter, which isn’t easy, and then deal with the teenaged boy Diana’s befriended accidentally finding out who she really is.

The final story is a two-parter set at an amusement park. A nefarious property developer wants to buy the park, but the owner won’t sell. It turns out the owner has a secret, his twin brother who was horribly scarred by napalm burns in Vietnam is hiding, with his permission, in the tunnels beneath the park. Diana, and an orphaned teenager help the burned man come out into society and foil the attempts of the property developer to cause accidents at the park that would shut it down. Yes, it’s better than it sounds – the story just plays out in a very sweet, well-done, respectful way.

Overall, Season 3 of Wonder Woman is OK but not great. It starts off very weak, but it does get better through the season, with a few stumbles here and there. I’d say pick it up if you want the complete Lynda Carter series, as it is not terrible.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 1.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 2.

Favorite Female DC Heroes

The Mary Sue website recently published a list of The Ten Most Powerful Female Villains of the DC universe, then challenged readers to list their favorite female DC heroes. So here we go.

1 – Birds of Prey

The Birds of Prey are not a single hero, but a group. Specifically, they are a team of female superheroes. First created by Chuck Dixon in the 1990s. The original group included Oracle (Barbara Gordon who also gets a place on this list herself), Black Canary (yes, she also gets her own listing), Huntress, and others. The team was rebooted in the New 52 and again in Rebirth. The membership of the team tends to rotate, but Barbara Gordon, Dinah Lance, and Helena are usually members. The series has been written and drawn by women as well.

2 – Zatanna

Originally a “joke” character who appeared in Justice League International and cast spells by speaking backward, Zatanna has emerged as one of the most powerful magic users in the entire DC Universe. At one point in New 52 – John Constantine describes her as the most powerful magician on Earth because she can bend reality itself. This after John discovers she cast a spell on him to make him a better person. Zatanna has been a member of the Justice League and Justice League Dark. She’s also one of the main characters in the animated series Young Justice and a supporting character in Justice League Unlimited. Zatanna is also one of the main characters in the recent mini-series Mystic U.

3 – Barbara Gordon (Oracle, Batgirl)

My favorite version of Barbara is Oracle. After she was shot by the Joker in Alan Moore’s famous The Killing Joke, Barbara doesn’t curl up and die. She doesn’t become bitter and decide to be a villain. Barbara goes through intense physical therapy, learns to use a wheelchair, returns to grad school and gets her MLS – Master’s of Library Science, and gets a job at the Gotham City Library. All of that would make her an admirable character, and representative of a very under-represented group: those with physical disabilities. It is not easy to get a master’s degree. It is not easy to get a good job when one has physical disabilities – discrimination is alive and well. But for Barbara, this isn’t enough, she uses her computer skills and becomes Oracle – running the Birds of Prey single-handedly (for much of Birds of Prey the other Birds don’t even know who the “voice in their ear” is), she also became knowledge gatherer for Batman and his allies, especially Nightwing. Barbara is strong and admirable for all that. New 52 retconned her back to Batgirl, and personally, I felt that was a step back for the character. There are plenty of tough female superheroes, how many superheroes in a wheelchair can you name? Rebirth has Barbara as Batgirl, but back in charge of the Birds of Prey, and keeps her computer skills, so that’s something.

4 – Black Canary

Black Canary is more than the girlfriend/wife/ex-wife of Green Arrow. She has been a member of the Justice Society of America (back in the 1940s), then Justice League International, Justice League, and the Birds of Prey. Her main power is her Sonic Cry, which is strong enough to kill someone. She also is a gifted martial artist, and at times has lived in the dojo where she teaches self-defense to at-risk women. Dinah is strong in more ways than one, and she remains one of my favorite characters.

5 – Jessica Cruz, Green Lantern

Jessica Cruz is one of the newest female DC heroes on this list, as she was introduced in the Rebirth book, Green Lanterns, with her partner, Simon Baz (a Muslim man). Jessica is Latina and suffered such severe acrophobia that she didn’t leave her apartment for two years. This is the woman who gets a power ring for overcoming great fear. Although Jessica is at first unsure of herself, she grows and becomes the hero her ring knows she can be. She and her partner, Simon, have a great relationship that is entirely platonic, a refreshing change for a story essentially about two cops. Jessica also is, by default, a member of the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League, meaning she also goes on missions in space, and world-saving missions, as well as her “normal” work as Earth’s Green Lantern.

6 – Batwoman

Kate Kane is Bruce Wayne’s cousin, a lesbian, and a kick-ass superhero. Raised in a military family, when she was young and the family abroad, she, her sister and their mother, were kidnapped. Her mother and sister were killed, and Kate was raised by her father. As a young adult, she enrolls in West Point – and is kicked out when it’s discovered she’s a lesbian. She goes wild for a year but then returns to Gotham as Batwoman. For much of Rebirth, Kate has been the leader of the Batfamily in Detective Comics, but after a few serious arguments with Bruce (lets just say Kate is more pragmatic than Bruce, and she doesn’t feel as strongly about his “no kill” rule as he does), she’s currently on her own. Kate is a strong fighter, has the intelligence common in Batfamily members, has military contacts through her father, and has her mother’s money. She’s basically Batman but a woman, which makes her awesome.

7 – Huntress

There are two versions of Huntress, and I really like them both. The Earth 2 version is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. (Bruce and Selina both grow older, retire from their respective “night ” jobs, and then marry.) The newer version is the daughter of a mob boss, who gets disgusted by her family’s violence, especially after her boyfriend is killed. She seeks revenge by killing mobsters. Bruce decides to bring her into the fold and gets her to agree to non-lethal ways of curbing the mob in Gotham. Both versions of Huntress have the first name, Helena, with the Earth 2 version being Helena Wayne and the modern version Helena Bertinelli. Helena is usually in a purple costume (sometimes black), and has strong fighting abilities, intelligence, and loyalty. As mentioned above, she’s frequently a member of the Birds of Prey.

8 – Fire and 9 – Ice

Fire was a Brazilian woman who had green fire powers. Ice was a Nordic Ice goddess. Both were characters in Justice League International. Both really need to be brought back!

10 – Wonder Woman

What new can one say about Wonder Woman? Diana is an Amazon princess, originally she brought American airman Steve Trevor back to America during World War II (which was contemporary with the times of her comic which was first published in 1940), where she stayed to fight Nazis, evil, and supervillains. She has the strength of Superman and the intelligence of Batman. Diana is part of DC’s Trinity of superheroes (the other’s being Superman and Batman) and is a member of the Justice League.

Wonder Woman – Season 2 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The second season of Wonder Woman feels almost like three different seasons. The first ten episodes or so feature an animated opening sequence, though the pilot brings the series into “the present day”. The “present” is 1977. Season 1 was filmed in 1976-1977 and set in 1942, 34 years earlier. Since it is currently 2018, which is 41 years after 1977 – the “present-day” episodes of Wonder Woman feel almost as historic as the episodes from World War II. This means that there are some incongruities of watching an older program: everyone uses payphones, though towards the very end of the season a few car phones show up; cars are rear-wheel drive, long, and handle very badly (there’s a scene with a police car where it fishtails unbelievably – and it isn’t even snowing); and as was common in the 1970s even though the show is technically set in or at least based in Washington, DC, most of the stories take place in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. During the first ten or so episodes Steve and Diana report to Joe Atkinson and receive orders from an unseen voice. It’s all very Charlie’s Angels. After a few transition episodes, where we barely see Steve, Joe retires (or is promoted out of the show) and Steve takes his job. For the middle run of the season, Steve sends Diana Prince, his top agent on various assignments. Finally, at the end of the season, Steve and Diana seem to be taking their assignments from IRAC, a talking computer. At the very least, IRAC will be consulted at least once per episode. IRAC is a talking box of lights, not very impressive looking, and totally unrealistic as a computer. Oh, and my smartphone probably has more computing power. Welcome to the 1970s!

Most of the episodes in the second season of Wonder Woman are very formulaic. Diana and Steve are given an assignment by Joe’s unseen boss, or Steve gives Diana her assignment once he’s promoted, Diana travels to wherever her assignment is – usually California, Diana investigates and finds clues, and at least twice per episode, she spins into Wonder Woman. Diana is kind, courteous, sweet, and gets along well with children and animals. The series has forgotten about her mimic power, but she seems to have the ability to mentally speak to animals, especially horses. Steve is much less sexist in his treatment of Diana – but she runs into sexist attitudes while doing her job as a government intelligence agent. Diana’s reaction is to grin and bear it – which was very common in the 1970s and 1980s.

My favorite episode of the entire season was “The Queen and the Thief”, which is absolutely delightful. Diana is awakened in her apartment early in the morning and spins into Wonder Woman basically to get to work on time for an emergency meeting. When she arrives, she, Joe, and Steve are told notorious jewel thief Evan Robley (David Hedison) has arrived and he’s after the crown jewels of a small country no one has heard of. The country’s new Queen (Juliet Mills) was an American citizen who married the country’s prince and when he died, she became Queen. (Never mind that monarchy doesn’t actually work like that. She’d be a princess by marriage, later a consort to the King (possibly with the title of “queen” but only out of courtesy) and only her children would be in the line of succession, not herself.) Anyway, if the jewels are stolen she will lose her position as Queen and the counts or something will take over. Steve and Diana are despatched immediately undercover to help the Queen and prevent the theft. Steve is almost immediately captured, and Wonder Woman explains to the Queen he’s “safer where he is” and leaves him there. Diana and the Queen then have to ensure the jewels are not stolen, only to discover they’ve been stolen – but the ones that were stolen were paste (fake). Then things get really interesting as the theft, Diana, and the Queen work together to recover the real jewels and expose the Queen’s ambassador (Played to perfection by John Colicos) as the person behind a plot to steal the jewels, expose the Queen, and place his own traditionally-minded puppet on the throne. It sounds like a typical plot for the show, but it’s played with an incredibly light touch, and the Queen and the Theif are excellent guest stars (they need their own show). John Colicos is brilliant as always as the bad guy. And Diana’s involvement is pretty much talking to the Queen to convince her she and Diana Prince, have her interests at heart – and a brilliant jewel-heist scene which takes place in a set that looks like it was borrowed from The Avengers, that’s the British TV series starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. The episode has a light touch, great costumes and sets, and a brilliant cast. It felt like it should have been a movie with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and in some respects was probably inspired by To Catch a Thief). And it was glorious!

Here and there, other episodes of season 2 of Wonder Woman are at least enjoyable, escapist entertainment, largely due to Lynda Carter’s excellent performance as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. Lyle Waggoner’s Steve Trevor definitely takes a back seat, which is a shame – he has pretty good chemistry with Diana, especially when they are friends and colleagues, and since Diana needs someone to talk to – she’s usually paired with the guest star of the week, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Unlike season 1, in which the show featured well-known guest stars, season 2 features familiar-looking actors of the 70s and 80s (especially if you watched The Rockford Files), but few “big stars”. And for some reason, a lot of children. No, seriously, several episodes revolve around young kids – which works if the kid can act.

Overall, I enjoyed season 2, but I also found it gets repetitive quickly. I’m going to hold off on watching season 3, but I will watch it at some point. Still recommended, if only for Lynda Carter.

Please also read my Wonder Woman Season 1 Review.

Wonder Woman – Season 1 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13, plus pilot
  • Discs: 5
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Richard Eastham, Beatrice Colen
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

There are some technical issues first to discuss regarding the DVD set for the first season of Lynda Carter’s TV series version of Wonder Woman. The first season, set during World War II, only has 13 episodes, yet it is spread out on five discs, with only two or three episodes per disc. As this series runs short, only 42 minutes, and is in 3×4 ratio and standard definition – they could have easily put four or five episodes per disc and reduced the number of discs to four. Since the only special feature is a short documentary – everything would fit and the package could be slimmer. Also, the episode menus refer to episodes “on the other side of the disc”, when these are standard single-sided discs and not double-sided ones. And all five discs were stacked on a single spindle. I hate that, it begs for the discs to get scratched or broken. I repackaged mine. The menus and cheap packaging made me wonder if this particular copy was legit, even though I purchased mine at Barnes and Noble during their sale on everything DC last year. Also, the copy quality leaves something to be desired – it really does look like a direct transfer from videotape. In short, if a cleaner, more compact “complete series” was offered, I’d definitely consider replacing this set, even though I seldom replace DVDs I’ve already purchased.

On to the series itself. This is the Wonder Woman that I remember watching as a little kid. Even back then, I knew that, at times, it was silly. The pilot has a great guest cast – of comic actors, including Kenneth Mars (The Producers), Henry Gibson (The Blues Brothers and Laugh-In), and Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein). It’s somewhat difficult to take actors known for playing “comedy Nazis” seriously. Lynda Carter does her best though – and I must say, the series steadily improves. Every episode of the first season features at least one actor I recognize, and frequently more than one. And it isn’t simply 70s talent either, as actors from the 50s and 60s make guest appearances as well.

Set during World War II, Diana rescues Steve Trevor after his plane crashes on Paradise Island. Diana’s mother, the Queen, played in the pilot by Cloris Leachman (and in the series by Carolyn Jones) holds a contest to choose the Amazon who will escort Steve back to the US. Diana wins the contest and heads back to America. She defeats some Nazis and ends up as Diana Prince, Yeoman First Class in the WAVEs, and secretary to Steve in Military Intelligence at the War Department, which makes her perfectly placed to find out about threats to the US and the world and to protect the country and even the planet as Wonder Woman. Diana’s only friend at the War Department is Etta Candy. Etta is a bit man-crazy, but she has a good heart.

In the first couple of episodes, Diana changes into Wonder Woman by doing a slow spin, ending up with her naval uniform on her arm – which she carefully puts away in a closet or storage locker. Later they sped up the spin and added the explosion – and her clothes disappeared. Diana also, besides her super strength, her magical lasso which forces people to tell the truth, and her bullet-proof bracelets, has the ability to be an incredible mimic – able to exactly duplicate a voice over the phone or a radio. She has her invisible plane as well.

In the first season, episodes range from foiling Nazi plots (many of which involving the Nazis trying to capture Wonder Woman) to the unusual (such as the two-part “Judgment from Outer Space” in which a guy (played by Tim O’Connor of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) from another galaxy has to determine if Earth should be destroyed or not) to an episode involving cattle rustling in Texas and Wonder Woman at Beauty contests and in Hollywood. The series improves starting with episode four, “The Feminum Mystique”, which introduces Debra Winger as Wonder Girl (Diana’s younger sister, Drusilla) and Carolyn Jones (from The Addams Family television series) as Queen Hippolyta. Although the plot of the two-part episode is similar to earlier ones, with the Nazis out to kidnap Wonder Woman to learn the secret of her bullet-proof bracelets, the story is better developed, and both Drusilla and Hippolyta are wonderful.

The first season of Wonder Woman mixes the silly with great adventure. Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman grows from an innocent, totally perplexed by life in Washington, to a competent, professional woman. When her young sister arrives, she also is innocent and confused – but she learns without becomes harsh or cynical. The stories in the back half of the season tend to be better, with some interesting changes in location (despite the fact that absolutely every place they are looks like Southern California, including Washington, New York, Nazi Germany, Argentina, and Texas). Lynda Carter brings it as Diana – she is kind, thoughtful, understanding and caring – without being overly sweet or a “mary sue” character, which is difficult to pull off. Over time her end of episode speeches improve from sounding like Maxwell Smart’s “if only he could have used his genius for niceness” to something that approaches being more realistic, given this is a show from the 1970s that seems to be aimed at children.

Overall, though there are technical issues with the actual DVD set, and at times this show plays like a comedy or parody of the Superhero genre, considering when it was made – it is still worth watching and enjoyable to watch. Because season 1 is set during the war and everyone is in uniform, it looks less dated than other programs from the 1970s – though it is also very obviously set and backlot-bound. Lynda Carter is awesome in this. Lyle Waggoner is wonderfully dippy as Steve. Steve Trevor is incredibly dumb in this (he reminds me of the Ghostbusters (2017) secretary), though by the last couple of episodes of the season he’s not quite so stupid. Still, he spends a lot of time getting knocked out, kidnapped, tied up, and dropped into traps – so Wonder Woman can rescue him. I like Diana’s friend, Etta, even though she gets to do very little.

Wonder Woman was made in the 1970s – the same time as Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman, and it some ways it reminds me of those shows more than any superhero TV show or film from now. Even the sound effect for Wonder Woman using her super strength is similar to the Bionic Woman. Still, this show is worth watching if you remember when it was made. Recommended with minor reservations.