Nancy Drew has been solving crimes and mysteries since 1930. A staple of many children’s early literary regiment, chances are if you haven’t read one of the myriads of books in which she appears you have seen a video game, television show or movie that featured her. The hardback blue or yellow spines of the original novels are a familiar sight in library and on children’s bookshelves the world over, and now Dynamite Entertainment is introducing another version with Nancy Drew #1. I got a chance to preview the first issue, so let’s see if we can get a clue.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Cover: Tula Lotay
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Nancy Drew: Last year Dynamite Entertainment released the mini-series Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, re-introducing fans to more hard-boiled tales of the teenage sleuths. This year, Nancy gets her own series and a new mystery to solve with her friends, but are they all her friends? Just a warning, there may be mild spoilers contained within.
THE GIRL DETECTIVE RETURNS
We find Nancy, now seventeen and living in River Heights, as she starts to wrap up the case of the missing mascot, which involved a cute coat and a kid with an inferiority complex. She finishes that case off with a bang, and immediately meets with her new team and arranges a time to look over her next potential case. Later, she receives a mysterious cut and paste letter in the mail, actual snail mail, which alludes that someone knows her secret. She instantly rushes out and returns to her old home town of Bayport.
Here, we are re-introduced to a cast of characters pulled from the original books: Bess Marvin, her former best friend and one-time compatriot in solving crimes, George Fayne, another former best friend and crime-solving partner. A new character is also introduced, Danica, George’s girlfriend. The tensions run high as Nancy needs to ask her old friends for help, while at the same time recognizing that not staying in touch has hurt the very friendship she is presuming upon. By the end of the issue, we get a guest appearance by Joe and Frank Hardy, and Nancy is left in a predicament foreshadowed in the first pages.
A MODERN GIRL BY MODERN CREATORS
In this latest update of Nancy Drew, Kelly Thompson (Jen and the Holograms, Hawkeye) has succeeded in giving us a modern Nancy with modern companions and problems. The dialogue is snappy, the banter between characters is witty, and the in-her-head narration by Nancy helps move the plot along and set up the story. As a matter of fact, in the first pages, that very narration seems to be a way of communicating a singular idea to the reader, things change. I may be jaded and have a conspiratorial mind, but it feels that from the first words on the page Kelly Thompson is telling everyone who may disagree with her interpretation of Nancy Drew to get over it. In fact, she closes that first page with the line “Keep moving or die.” This Nancy is certainly moving forward, keeping up a tradition with the character that has existed as long as she has.
The art work by Jenn St-Onge (Bingo Love, Jem and the Misfits) is excellent. Her style is very smooth and animated, with some great panel composition leading your eye just where it needs to go. The character designs are modern as well, and everyone has their own look and style. The facial expressions are great; you can almost read the story without dialogue. There are a couple of muddy parts here and there, but overall this bright style really helps to bring the characters into a modern light.
BOTTOM LINE: A FUN IMAGINATIVE TAKE ON A CLASSIC
Nancy Drew #1 was not written for me. Period. That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good book, just that I’m far removed from what might be considered the target audience. It shows a diverse cast of strong female characters with a wide range of personalities getting along (essentially) and working together to help one another. It’s a good change from some titles tendency to have characters spend more time sniping each other that being friends.
That said, it is not without some concerns. The arrival of a mysterious letter pointing to an obviously dark secret Nancy is hiding doesn’t really feel that dire. I understand that this is just the first issue and we are getting the set up for the tale, but I was more entertained with seeing the new versions of old characters than wondering what Nancy had done or not done in the past. The inclusion of a reference to her mother also seemed just a little forced, as she was never really a part of Nancy’s life other than the occasional background mention. However, Kelly Thompson may have a plan to change that. I’m willing to see.
Nancy Drew #1 is a fun beginning to a new era for the classic character. This is a team that delivers, go pick it up when it hits stores June 13th.