Back in “the day” there really wasn’t much of a choice of super heroes to watch on television. Lynda Carter was one of those rare actresses who had a chance to be in the right place at the right time and was able to take on the role of an iconic super-heroine whose show coincided with things like the Equal Rights Amendment and women taking a more dominant role in American society. So while super hero stories on TV were hard to find in themselves, the fact that a female action hero was featured so prominently made her role more auspicious. Wonder Woman – the TV show was a lot of fun set against a world that under-valued the super hero genre, was realizing the importance of women’s rights and this can be seen in DC’s online comic Wonder Woman ’77.
“We’re spoiled today with all the big-budget stuff. But Lynda Carter looked the part, wore a colourful costume, had a great theme song – and was a lot of fun,” said Marc Andreyko, writer of Wonder Woman ’77, in an interview with PopMythology. “She treated this like any other role and never looked down on it or poked fun at the super hero character.”
The spirit of the 70s comes out in this book, that’s for sure. For folks like Andreyko (and others) who can remember the catchy theme song and Lynda Carter spinning around to transform into the Amazon princess, this book is a real return to those simpler days, but what was great was that Wonder Woman struck a double blow for both feminism and humanism.
“If you look at the show, Lynda rarely engaged in physical violence. It was always a last resort and I take that very seriously when I’m writing Wonder Woman.”
The resolution of conflict through peaceful means is an important theme to Andreyko who is both a fan of Wonder Woman herself as well as Lynda Carter.
“Wonder Woman doesn’t just hit people. Peace is her first choice and that’s very heroic.”
We asked Andreyko if there was a challenge migrating the appeal of the show into the comic and working within the constraints of the series to the expectations of contemporary readers, given that the show originally began with a World War II season and then graduated into the 1970s.
“Not at all,” he responded. “In fact, it’s been very freeing because we get to use super villains from today’s comic book continuity in terms of how they would appear in the 70s TV show. We don’t have a budget limitation of what the artist can draw. In the first season of the TV show, we had a lot of Nazis and then in the second and third seasons there were a lot of gangsters and then there were a lot of aliens. But it’s been a lot of fun to imagine how her Rogue’s Gallery – like Giganta and Cheetah – would have appeared and who would have played them in the TV Show.”
Working with a variety of artists like Jason Badower, Cat Staggs, Drew Johnson and the artist Andreyko has worked with the most, Richard Ortiz, has also been a great pleasure for Marc.
“Jason Badower does incredible likenesses. They’re not stiff and photo-realistic; there’s an energy and a sense of vibrancy to his work. He’s a great storyteller as well.” In fact, when one reads this book and thinking of all the great art talent it’s showcased, you can almost hear the theme music in the background. That, and the 1966 Spider-Man theme music are the best.” Andreyko chuckled. “Ear-worm.”
In terms of favourite memories of the TV show channelling into his work, Andreyko recalled that it was Lynda Carter’s performance that stayed with him as a kid and into his adulthood. When the show went off the air in the late 70s, he found it remarkable that it was very rarely re-run. Yet he had crystal clear memories of the show and those impressions were very easily recalled when he began to write for the comic, like favourite characters from the show.
“There are a whole bunch of villains from the TV show I’d love to bring into the comic. Like John Carradine played the voice of a man named Galt who had this psychic brain and at the end of the episode he escaped. So to bring back the brain of Galt would be fun. But there are a bunch of characters I’d like to bring in down the line.”
But what truly makes this book a solid addition to the DC comic line is the homage it pays to the character immortalized by Lynda Carter. Bringing her spirit into the comic is a real feat and when asked about that, Andreyko recalled a highly motivational anecdote.
“A bunch of us actually got a chance to meet Lynda. She’s quite an accomplished jazz singer and she had a sort of a mini-tour. Eleven of us – the artists and editors got a chance to go to a jazz club where she was performing last March. Not only did she give us a shout-out but she also invited us to meet her backstage. She was more gracious and more lovely than I could have imagined. Just one of the most sincere, fun and accessible people. She took my hands and said ‘thank you for doing this book’. I had tears in my eyes and was like ‘wait a minute, no, no – thank YOU for letting me do this book’. And she’s a damn good singer to boot. Her back-up singers and her band have about 35 Grammy Awards among them. She’s just lovely and that she even knows that the book exists and enjoys the book is the biggest compliment I could ever get because her boots are very big ones to fill.”
As a long time reader and a writer of comics, Andreyko’s pride in the comic that he’s been fortunate enough to pen is only surpassed by the team that he is a part of. Marc only works on projects that he wants to read and as a devotee of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, this is a book that he would truly want to read and that other fans definitely would too.
Lynda Carter was a pioneer. Not only was she one of the super heroes on television, but she was a leading actress who personified strength and leadership at a time when women were struggling for equal recognition. Wonder Woman ’77 captures the essence of that time and brings it forth to a generation that can appreciate it for its trailblazing value but also gives a heady dose of nostalgic fun for the fans who were there in the beginning.