Review by Ian Keogh
Original TV cast likenesses weren’t on the agenda for this version of the hit 1970s TV show Charlie’s Angels, but everything else about The Devil You Know has the ring of authenticity. Well, as authentic as stories about three impossibly glamorous former policewoman each with a special talent undertaking missions for a mysterious taskmaster can be. John Layman’s writing pitches the right tongue in cheek quality, while Joe Eisma supplies the 1970s fashions, cars and background paraphernalia.
Each of the five chapters is treated as a TV episode, complete with a title sequence, and provides a separate mission, although there is a connecting thread. TV viewers back in the day surely wondered time and again why something particular never happened, and Layman exploits that for his plot. It’s set-up proficiently, and Layman is careful to show the Angels smart enough to catch on to what’s happening. He uses 1970s touchstones such as East Germany and President Carter, and eventually introduces the evil counterparts to Charlie’s Angels.
Eisma’s art tells the story with the needed straight face, never exaggerating the comedy, but he’s not one for drawing anything more than necessary. It could be explained away as part of the joke that Charlie’s Angels operate in what look like empty film sets, but the truth is that Eisma doesn’t want to spend the time filling them.
While there are obvious comedy aspects to the plot, it’s worked out tightly enough that were the laughs removed almost everything would still play out effectively. A couple of nice touches are most of the action taking place in the past, but the fifth chapter relating what happened as newly declassified information in the present day, and Layman finding a way to include all Charlie’s Angels. It’s a fine romp that should appeal to anyone who loved the original TV show or either of the 21st century movies.