Charlie’s Angels #4

Writer: John Layman
Artist: Joe Eisma
Colorist: Celeste Woods
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Review by Cameron Kieffer

So full disclosure: I’ve never seen an episode of the original Charlie’s Angels television show.  Not one.  My experience with this franchise begins and ends with the 2000 film featuring Lucy Lou, my girl Drew, and Cameron D. I will not acknowledge its sequel, except to say that film’s subtitle “Full Throttle” should have been “Crash and Burn.”

Regardless, I pre-ordered the first issue of this new Charlie’s Angels series based on the creative team and have been hooked ever since.  The story thus far: the Angels have traveled to Germany to assist with a mission of national security, while unbeknownst to them, Charlie has been kidnapped by German terrorists.  To make matters worse, the shadowy villain in charge has just let loose her own trio of femme fatales: the aptly named Satansbraten, which as you may have assumed, loosely translates to “devils.”  Though to be honest, I prefer the alternate translation of “cheeky rascals.”

When Charlie’s Angels #4 begins, Jill and Kelly (actually Sabrina) are in league with their demonic doppelgängers and are about to assasinate the president.  Confused yet?  This issue employs the “in media res” format of throwing us into some very confusing action before, revealing each layer of how this odd situation came to be.  While it seems a bit frustrating at first, Layman’s script manages to pull it off, while still leaving enough room for a few surprises and plenty of clever jokes and one-liners.

Layman’s writing has been the book’s greatest strength thus far.  Rather than take the dark and gritty route, this book is all about fun, never taking itself too seriously, and packing some (but not too much) meta-humor.  There’s some heavy exposition early on to help the readers catch up, but it’s done in an awkward, yet hilarious fashion, and sets up a great joke about the use of exposition.  Like I said, very meta but fortunately it’s done sparingly.  Eisma’s stylistic art compliments both the action and the lighthearted gags succinctly, although it’s sometimes difficult to tell our brunettes Kelly and Sabrina apart.

Oddly enough, as strong as the writing is, it also lends itself to be the book’s greatest weakness.  There just hasn’t been much development to really distinguish our three leads.  After four issues, they’re seemingly interchangeable in terms of the dialogue and their personality.  This issue takes some strides toward fixing that, but it has more to do with each Angel’s particular set of skills than how they speak or carry themselves.  The book is also over very quickly (the page count is average for a $3.99 comic, but it still seems like you’re not getting enough story).

While there is certainly room to improve, this book is still a lot of fun.  The 70’s setting and use of the original core characters (Kelly, Sabrina, and Jill) is tailored for fans of the television show, but it’s pretty accessible for new fans as well.  The creative team works together well.  The art by Eisma and Wood jumps off the page and has a frenetic speed that makes this read almost like a more adult Powerpuff Girls comic.  Esposito’s lettering matches the tone and captures the snappy dialogue and goofy sound effects to great, well, effect!

The Verdict: Buy it.

We’re four issues into our first five-part story arc and I can’t wait to see how it ends.  I keep using the word fun but that really is the best way to sum it up.  It’s very much in the vein of books like Danger Girl and Kelly Thompson’s recent run of Hawkeye and is well worth a look.

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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