Cameron DeOrdio has a Writer’s Commentary on Charlie’s Angels/Bionic Woman #1, on sale now from Dynamite. He tells us; Hey there, folks. Long before I was writing comics, I was a huge dork about them, and slightly less long before I was writing comics, I was a huge dork about them with a literature degree, which is to say I have spent a lot of time thinking about comics as an art form and also I’m in so much debt. As you could probably guess, I was pretty excited (and a little flattered) when Dynamite asked me to do this.
That said, I’ll try to stick to talking through thought processes and giving peeks behind the curtain instead of looking to tell you how to read the book in terms of themes and such. Onward!
While people who know me will argue we opened the book with this break-in only so I could make that Defense Contractor/Federal Offense Contractor joke, there are actual story reasons, too.
First of all, it lets us start right in the middle of an action sequence, which is important, because we want this to be a tense, kinetic story, even though this first issue necessarily includes a lot of setup.
Secondly, as they say, everything is [professional] wrestling, including comics. We needed an opportunity to make Jaime look strong right off the bat, because she is the major obstacle to the extremely competent Angels. So we booked her to squash these three shadowy figures, showcasing some of her bionic abilities while also establishing that 1) she helps defend Naris and 2) she’s pretty personable and kind, even when she’s thwarting crimes.
Soo Lee really knocks it out of the park here, especially in the way she renders Jaime. Due to licensing terms, we couldn’t use actors’ likenesses from either the Angels or the Bionic side of the house, so Soo went back to the drawing board and did some great design work, capturing the characters’ essence without stepping on any licensors’ toes. Addison Duke’s colors work wonders with Soo’s heavy inks throughout, and we really put Tom Napolitano through his paces in these opening pages with all these captions and labels.
When I was writing this page, I was so excited to see what Soo did with it. The Charles Townsend Detective Agency, with Bosley and the Angels gathered around the speaker, listening to Charlie, is so iconic. I couldn’t be happier with the way this came out, and once again Tom is working overtime and doing a great job to get this book’s many main characters introduced.
While the Angels gathered around Charlie’s speaker is iconic, no one wants to see that for three full pages. I love using voiceover captions with action going on in another time and/or place, because it’s incredibly efficient, and it allows for some fun meta moments.
A lot of people think of spycraft as all gadgets and pressing your back against walls while listening for footsteps, but often, it’s just good old fashioned social engineering. The Angels have a lot of charm to go around, and they know how to use it. Julie works to establish solidarity with her “fellow” secretary right out of the gate. Alice, as the kids no longer say, “feels seen,” so she’s more willing to open up to this stranger – including letting slip that her desk is right by “where the action is over at Naris.” She’s the mark the Angels need.
But of course, Jaime’s no slouch. I really love the way Soo arranged this page, and how Addison split the colors. I loved the idea of someone infiltrating the gaggle of women who are always around Charlie, but, as we’ll soon see, Jaime wasn’t able to learn too much before skedaddling before her cover could be blown.
Also, this is the last time you’re going to see a main character in a bikini in this book, so apologies if that’s what you came for.
Showing how Jaime’s bionics work was always going to be a challenge, because many of the ways the TV show did it don’t translate very well to comics. Fortunately, Tom’s top-notch, and his SFX work seamlessly with Soo’s art to get it across.
Also, are you really a superhero if you don’t land on something in a three-point stance?
This wraps up the initial, inept invasion from pages 1-3, hitting on the stuff I already talked about in that section earlier: Jaime is real, and strong, and [human decency’s] friend.
Amateur hour’s over. Time to bring in the professionals. On this page, we give Soo and Addison’s work a lot of room to breathe. The Naris compound is going to be extremely central to our story, so we want that very much fixed in our readers’ minds. Also, Soo’s sequentials come across so clear, we didn’t see any reason to clutter things up with some sort of internal monologue. If you don’t guess exactly what Kris is attaching to that little teaspoon, it will become clear very soon. I’ll admit I took a fair amount of inspiration from FX’s The Americans here, with the idea of planting a bug being a two-break-in job, because at the time, hiding a long-range transmitter just wasn’t technologically feasible.
Once again, a little charm can go a very long way. Soo’s talent for acting carries a ton of weight here, so the cleaner’s barriers crumbling under the strength of Kris’s beaming grin looks and feels real.
I hope this cleaning guy doesn’t lose his job over this! (He doesn’t.)
Oh, hey, it’s Oscar Goldman! He was Director of Operations at OSI before it got closed down. He is extremely central to Jaime’s origin, as he gave the final go-ahead to give her the bionic procedure, reversing his initial objections and going on to work closely with Jaime during their time at OSI, becoming great friends. Now he’s followed (some of) the work to the private sector and Naris. We don’t get too much of Oscar in this issue, but he’s going to be extremely central to things once they get going in earnest in the coming installments.
Also, Soo did a great job with a pretty difficult task here. I asked her to “show that the teaspoon bug is recording this,” which is not my best or most thoughtful piece of scripting, but fortunately she’s a professional and conveys that very clearly in a single panel.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you’re pretty good at this.
If there’s one thing we know about the Angels, it’s that they’re incredible crime fighters. If there’s two things we know about them, it’s they’re incredible crime fighters and impeccable dressers. Not much goes with a balaclava, but by God, they’ll make it work. Even Jaime has to show some respect.
And thus our first issue comes to an end, with the major players sassing one another and squaring off, setting us up for an exciting showdown next issue.
Hey, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this look into some of the thought processes/work processes that went into this issue. Things really start to heat up next time, with explosions and gadgets and near-misses, so if I’m being honest, you should pre-order issue 2, and then the rest of the series. Just one man’s opinion.