“Spy Girlz Back in Action” is a fun, fresh, tween chick flick on paper that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Writer Dan Parent captures the spirit of movies like Austin Powers and Charlie’s Angels, without copying their excesses.
After a quick recap of the previous issue, Parent jumps into the action, as Betty and Veronica have to deal with a studio full of hyperactive children in the thrall of Klutzy the Clown. The way Veronica interacts with the children here is totally in character. This is a young woman who does not have a lot of patience with kids. Besides the revealing dialog, Parent, along with inker Jim Amash, exaggerates expressions to make it clear what the characters’ are feeling.
The dynamic opening out of the way, Parent steps up the pace and gets to the heart of the story. Betty and Veronica encounter the mastermind behind Klutzy, discover Archie has been kidnapped and their secret identities revealed to the world, and learn that they’ve been betrayed by a longtime friend.
Parent’s script is clever and fun. He includes contemporary and pop references — “Step aside, Oprah!” “Children of the Corn!” and, my favorite, “I wonder if 007 is hiring!” — along with fun, dramatic dialog — “There’s nothing you can do to her that’ll be worse than my plans for her!”
The plot twists come fast and furious and are built on strong characterization. Once you know who the true villain is, you understand the motivation behind everything if you know that character at all. While Parent is using relationships he developed in other stories — most especially “Battle of the BFFs” — to move the story along, it’s not necessary to have read them to understand this one. He gives you what you need to know to enjoy this story on its own.
The art is just as good as the story. As mentioned above, it’s very expressive. It’s also energetic. The Spy Girlz leap across the page and are constantly swinging into action. Just take a look at this panel. Parent goes with an overhead shot with a tilted horizon to convey the feeling of movement and distance as the girls escape their young tormentors.
Some of the best panels in the books are the ones in which readers either are looking down or up at the action.
Betty #192 provides a strong and entertaining ending to the “Spy Girlz Back in Action!” storyline. Fans of light-hearted action-adventure stories won’t want to miss it.