- Posted by Johanna on November 11, 2006 at 8:23 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Papercutz; $7.95 US
Totally Spies! is a cartoon series that airs on the Cartoon Network in the US. I’ve never seen it. Judging from these adaptations, it’s an updated take on Charlie’s Angels, only with California princesses as the leads.
The franchise is clearly what matters. The only credits in the books are for letterer and editor. (Apparently the art and stories create themselves.) Clover, Sam, and Alex are superficial high school girls who are secretly spies. However, all that really means is that they’re given a cool car and gadgets like a laser nail file.
Each book includes two stories, a great way to keep energy high. The plots are frothy, and all of them reminded me of some other movie or TV show. “The OP” features a perfect gated community that’s reminiscent of Pleasantville, only creepier. By the time they find out that one kid is trying to escape forced conformity, the story feels just like Disturbing Behavior.
The bad guys lose because they do stupid things like forgetting to remove Clover’s laser-saw-containing charm bracelet (which looks nothing like jewelry). The girls aren’t geniuses, either. Instead of untying their friend and letting her help, they cart her around much of the time like a package.
There might be something to be said about the irony of three interchangeable teens fighting enforced peer pressure, but that would be way too much thought for this lightweight series. Book 1 also contains “Futureshock”, in which the girls wind up in the future.
I found it helpful, since they sound alike, that each girl’s word balloon is outlined in her signature color. The characters are drawn in a light anime style, attractively and with exaggerated reactions. The girls’ weapons are all stereotypical, such as superheating hair dryers and some kind of magic compact. It’s fun, for pure bubblegum, but I can’t help being reminded of the original Batgirl and Miss Arrowette being defined through their cosmetic accessories. Have we come this far only to wind up back in the 50s?
Book 2 opens with “I Hate the 80s!” in which a bad guy has invented a retro ray that also de-ages people. I was impressed with the costume detail, but then, I remember the era. The story is fast-moving, with something new on every page, and plenty of subplots. The second story, “Attack of the 50 Ft. Tall Mandy”, turns their nemesis into a giant in a plot that involves a beauty contest and an escaped evil scientist.
For mindless entertainment, this is top of the class.
Samples are available at the publisher’s website. Papercutz is currently running a video contest for 8- to 14-year-olds. The winner, in return for making a 90-second movie-style trailer promoting the books, will get a “a star appearance in an upcoming article to be published in every Papercutz series of graphic novels”.