Less Than Heavenly Charlie's Angels from Dynamite

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Charlie's Angels cover by Finch

Ah, the 70s. When we thought bell-bottoms and corduroy were comfortable fashions, and our thick, pile carpets were called "shag" for a reason I was too young to know.

One of the many, many highlights of the decade, however, was the television series CHARLIE'S ANGELS, a trio of former police women who went freelance to work for Charles Townsend, who was never seen but whose name was on the detective agency. They were tough, they were smart, and they were sexy, at a time when the feminist movement meant something.

So when Dynamite Comics announced there would be a CHARLIE'S ANGELS comic based on the original characters and their signature looks, I was too eager to see it. Dynamite has tapped into a nostalgia vein that has a lot of potential, having already done THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN (as well as the DC crossover with WONDER WOMAN '77). CHARLIE'S ANGELS seemed to be a natural choice -- one I can't believe hadn't already been pounced on a few decades earlier for a comics franchise.

Let's start with the cover, since it's the first thing you're going to see. It's a David Finch cover, so it's already going to look amazing. But Finch has gone for photorealism here, and the results are superb. The inking is at a minimum, so it's almost like colorization over pencils. Yes, it is inked, just not heavily. I could look at this cover all day.

Now let's turn the cover and -- oh no. This...this is not as good. This artwork from Joe Eisma is akin to what one might expect from a coloring book of CHARLIE'S ANGELS: THE ANIMATED SERIES. I've actually seen RICHIE RICH comics with more lifelike expressons. These Angels are sharp-edged, angular mannekins.

Let's look at the David Finch cover a little while longer.

Okay, deep breath now. And back into the story we go.

This is hard.

So the story from John Layman essentially finds the Angels -- Sabrina, Jill, and Kelly -- undercover in a night club with the goal of planting a wire on one of the customers to tape his conversation with the co-owner in order to run a sting on a weapons deal. They were tipped off to this by the club's other co-owner, Ted, who is also an entertainer in the club; he's a ventriloquist and impressionist, which he demonstrates to the Angels.

This is a trick that probably would have worked better on television. Because it's a comic, we don't actually hear the impressions and thus have to be told who they are. But because it is a comic, at least his lips really don't move at all when he performs.

Once the Angels have the information, all they have to do is give it to the police. But Ted gets roped into going on the deal, and Kelly is...well, Kelly is making facial expressions that are emotive and grotesque at the same time. Going against Bosley's directives, she insists the Angels follow to save Ted. And during the firefight that eventually ensues, she ends up laying atop him where they flirt amid the bullets.

I think we officially have a Bechdel Test failure at this point.

The bad guys are captured. The Angels wrap up their case. And we even get the group laugh at something funny happening to Bosley. (He gets attacked by a monkey. No, really.)

But wait! There's more! Because this adventure was merely a stepping stone into the larger story. Because lurking in the background of the story are two German spies who don't know how to lurk. For one thing, they both wear all white. For the other, they have Flock of Seagulls hairstyles. They're ten years ahead of their time. Und zey are haffink a plan for der Angels, und zis man Ted is beink der key!

Oh joy.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS #1 hits the shelves of your local comic book shop next week on June 27 from Dynamite.

3.5 / 5.0