(W) John Layman (A) Joe Eisma
The very concept of Charlie’s Angels has always been intriguing, but never has it truly been executed in a manner where it reaches its full potential. The original show has an earnest campiness that makes it a fondly remembered product of its era, but still could not overcome its cultural limitations to be the landmark feminist statement it could have been. Then there are the early 2000s movies, which are comfortably at home at the bottom of bargain bins in various big-box stores. But now comes a new incarnation, updating the Angels with modern storytelling sensibilities while maintaining the setting (and style) of the 1970s thanks to writer John Layman and artist Joe Eisma. The result is a comic that is… okay.
This is by no means a bad comic, thanks to the pedigree. Layman has a history of writing interesting characters, as evidenced by his creator-owned title Chew, as well as stops on Detective Comics, Gen13, and X-Men. And while there are glimpses of that quirky brilliance on display here, the bulk of the story is standard and predictable. Layman’s script is unable to pull the story beyond its first-issue trappings. Layman reintroduces the Angels, Bosley, and the enigmatic Charlie before sending the reader on as simple, done-in-one adventure. While it is captures the light, breezy nature of the show, the story overall is forgettable. To be honest, I’m struggling to recall what actually happened.
The art by Joe Eisma fares a little better. Though remarkably different from [and less objectifying than] the cover art by David Finch, Eisma’s art possesses a consistency that can be found in most of his recent works. Over the years, I’ve found myself becoming simultaneously excited and apprehensive when I see his name on a title, and this issue is a great example why. Though it falls short of the highs seen in Morning Glories, his clean lines, expressive characters, and [mostly] detailed backgrounds make for a solid, albeit unremarkable, comic presentation. Perhaps Eisma needs a new creator owned project to truly unleash his potential, because his work on these licensed properties can barely satisfy readers.
While the book is most assuredly far from perfect, at its core it manages to capture the spirit of Charlie’s Angels far better than the two McG films. The story is light and simple, but it is also fun. It is clear that the creative team has an affection for the property, as they are able to tell a solid tale and set up plot threads for a larger narrative at play. Layman writes the characters in a manner that gives them a natural chemistry which comes through in Eisma’s art. Despite a forgettable tale, the titular heroines are anything but.
Readers hoping for the next big thing for leading ladies in comics are going to be sorely disappointed. There are surely some that will point to the all-male creative team as a problem, but that really isn’t the case. The real problem is that the source material these creators are drawing from just isn’t very good. But they deserve credit for at least turning lemons into lemonade.