Nancy Drew comes to in the cave at Deadman’s Cliff, but who is the handsome stranger who climbed down to help her? What knocked out all her friends up at the top of the cliff? And who sent the mysterious letter that drew them all here? Here is the Major Spoilers review of Nancy Drew #2.
NANCY DREW #2
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 11, 2018
Previously in Nancy Drew: We met Nancy and her friends George and Bess, and saw her solve a minor mystery at school. Then, after receiving a mysterious letter, made from words cut out of newsprint, she headed back to her old hometown. After meeting up with Frank and Joe Hardy, the group of teens headed out to Deadman’s Cliff to do some investigating. As Nancy was rappelling into the cave, her rope was cut and she fell to the bottom…
DID SHE FALL, OR WAS SHE PUSHED?
Nancy Drew #2 starts out with a flashback to seven years ago. Considering our cast is in high school now, this means they are roughly middle school age (and gosh darn it they’re cute.) Nancy has dragged her friends out to explore a cave along the coast for treasure. Frank and Joe Hardy bicker about whether they brought enough water; George Fayne is cranky because it’s early morning; Bess Martin is interested in the treasure, but is a little fearful. Then Nancy gets the fateful phone call that her mother has died. This short scene establishes so much, besides deftly linking us back to the present day.
Nancy comes to, and finds a young man, Pete, checking on her. He found her friends all passed out, but came down into the cave to check on her. Nancy finds him handsome, but even with a concussion has the presence of mind to challenge him (and not let on that she thinks he’s cute). He climbs up with her, and they wake her friends, who are (quite reasonably) suspicious of him. Or they are until Nancy shows off her detective skills by observing tire tracks and footprints that are plainly not Pete’s. At this point, Frank challenges her to let them in on why they’re all out here, but she is not quite ready to tell them about the note.
The following morning, Nancy is not to be found, and her friends drive off in search of her. They’re worried, and still suspicious of Pete, and they go out to Deadman’s Cliff. Meanwhile, Nancy is in the library doing a little research, when Pete comes in with some coffee. After finding nothing at the Cliff, Frank, and George figure out she probably went to the library, and back they go to town, only to find out that Nancy, with a “nice young man,” was headed to Deadman’s Cliff. If I have any problem with this story, it’s dealing with the whole group. They function as a sort of combination Greek chorus and comedy team. They don’t get so much character development here, but they have to be dragged along for the plot.
Pete knows another way into the cave, and he and Nancy climb in. She confronts him with being the person who sent her the mysterious letter, and he confirms it. He apologizes and admits that he wanted her help and was afraid she wouldn’t help him if there weren’t a mystery to solve. It turns out that his mother died in the cave shortly after Nancy’s mother died. Her family was famous – and white – and everyone cared; his family was working class, Black, and Mexican, and the cops labeled his mom’s death a suicide. This is heart-wrenching, especially since it has more than a grain of truth to it, and Nancy promises to help him. And then, in the fine tradition of mystery serials, they find another body.
LIVELY ART AND CHARACTERS
The art in Nancy Drew #2 continues to be bold and expressive. The faces of the kids in the flashback scene are every bit as transparent, skeptical, and cross as you might see in kids of that age. As teenagers, everyone runs through a gamut of emotions, and these are so clearly communicated. Everyone has his or her own fashion style, which is kept to faithfully. Bess, the morning after, sleeping with her cats, is adorable. There are a lot of tight scenes when we have the whole group along, and it plays well for humor.
Pete’s big reveal in the cave is handled as a double splash, with the conversation covering both pages over multiple images of Pete and Nancy’s progress. It took me a couple tries, but the conversation actually starts out traveling in a large circle – moving left to right across the top of the page, and then moving back right to left across the middle. My review copy split this into two pages, which is probably why it took me so long to figure out, but I really liked it and how it echoed wandering through the cave. It isn’t a technique I’ve seen a lot.
BOTTOM LINE: A GREAT READ FOR MYSTERY LOVERS
Nancy Drew is a perennial favorite, and this take on her does not disappoint. It feels modern, but we’re still solidly placed in a world where teens can tackle mysteries on their own.