Charlie’s Angels: The Devil You Know is a television revamp comic published by Dynamite that collects issues 1-5 of the single issues. This comic publisher has published a fair amount of TV and movie tie-in comics, so it was only a matter of time until Charlie’s Angels got the Dynamite treatment. It’s written by John Layman, who fans may know as the writer behind the Eisner-winning Chew. He is joined by artist Joe Eisma, who is known for his artwork on the Eisner-winning Morning Glories. The duo creates a solid, fun comic that pays homage to the classic 1970s TV show while updating the property for modern audiences.
The first issue drops the reader into a 1970s nightclub called the Limbo Lounge where the Angels are undercover. Then it cuts to an almost perfect frame by frame of the original show intro which explains how Jill Munroe, Sabrina Duncan, and Kelly Garrett were police officers who were not appreciated for their talents until Charles Townsend took them away from all that. Charlie recognizes their potential and hires them at his private investigation firm. They now work for him despite only getting instructions via Charlie’s go-between Bosely and a speakerphone. They have been hired by the owner of the club, Theodore Gardner, who is also a ventriloquist, to expose his mob boss partner’s bad dealings. This is a classic Charlie’s Angels storyline. Only on 1970s television could a ventriloquist be the headliner at a hot Los Angeles night club. But the plot thickens because at the end of the first issue we meet two East German punks dressed all in white who knock out and kidnap Ted Gardner. They show up in the next issue to kidnap Charles Townsend (whose face is obscured of course.)
This is where the plot matures into a cold war thriller rooted in a classic 1970s detective show. The East Germans are working to overthrow the United States by kidnapping President Jimmy Carter. To do so, they need Ted Gardner’s voice acting ability as he can sound like the president and Charles Townsend. This way they can manipulate the Angels into traveling to Vienna to foil a KGB plot to trade U.S. nuclear secrets. However, the man who the Angels think is KGB is actually Agent Jeremy Bryce who was in deep cover for the CIA before they blew it. The Angels realize their mistake and try to make it right. Which means they have to get into East Germany to a CIA safe house. They inform Charlie of this, but not the exact location of where they are because they are suspicious. It’s not uncommon they get sent into a situation where the police are unable to infiltrate, but state secrets and espionage are a different game. They give a false location to see what will happen which results in faking their deaths and catching the bomber who they interrogate for more information. The Angels also think it’s suspicious that President Jimmy Carter happens to be giving a speech in Europe while they’re there.
Next up we meet the inverse of Charle’s Angels; Helena and her Satansbraten, who have been hired by the East German punks. The Angels end up double-crossing the Satansbraten because they don’t know which Angel is which, and each woman has a specific skill set. Sabrina is the tactician, Jill is the sharpshooter, and Kelly is the martial artist. By doing a swaparoo, the Angels rescue President Carter saving democracy as we know it. They also hatch a plot to save Charlie and Ted who are being held captive at Charlie’s mansion. They get Bosley to bring three fake angels (who will go on to become Angels later) and say he’s switching sides. The fake Angels take on the East Germans and free their captives. Every bad guy goes to prison, and the Charlie’s Angels are awarded the Presidential Medal of Heroism. It flashes to the future where the original Angels are now in charge of Townsend Investigations.
This comic is so much fun! If your library already has a fair amount of Dynamite TV and movie tie-in comics then this is an automatic add. Is it a groundbreaking comic? No, but it’s incredibly entertaining and provides enough fan-service while telling a much more advanced plot than the average viewer would expect. As a long-time Charlie’s Angels fan I was pleasantly surprised by the fast-paced cold war plot. Someone new to the Angels can easily pick up this comic up as a layman as it gives a good foundation for who the Angels are and what they do. The art is spot on for the 1970s fashions and it’s easy to tell the Angels apart while reading. A more junior artist would blur the lines between Kelly and Sabrina since they’re both brunettes. I also liked that the art wasn’t over the top cheesecake in regard to our Angels and their Satansbraten counterparts. The TV show was referred to as “jiggle tv” by critics, so it’s nice to see the ladies are shown as strong heroines who can handle themselves while wearing fashionable attire. The back matter features a cover gallery which does have some cheesecake imagery, but that’s just a few covers. Most of them are tasteful and play up the adventure aspect of the women going undercover.
Charlie’s Angels, vol 1: The Devil You Know
By John Layman
Art by Joe Eisma
Publisher Age Rating: Teen+
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Related to…: TV to Comic