Bess Marvin has been abducted, and Nancy is beginning to tie the clues together…but can she solve the mystery before Bess ends up at the bottom of Deadman’s Cliff?
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 31, 2018
Previously in Nancy Drew: An anonymous letter brought Nancy back to her hometown of Bayport where she meets Pete, whose mother died under mysterious circumstances. As she and her friends investigate, they realize that Pete’s mother was not the only one, and that drugs somehow are involved. Hunting for clues, they go to a pop-up rave, which nets them more than they bargained for, especially when Bess goes missing.
THE RACE TO THE FINISH
Nancy Drew #5 starts out at the rave with everyone waiting for Nancy. Again. They don’t give her long before they go after her to find her holding Bess Marvin’s phone. Bess had set it to record, and it caught the discussion around her being carried off. Nancy’s thoughts are set out like journal entries, and they are introspective, so we see the contrast between how she feels and the front she presents, because everyone expects her to know what to do. They go into the office to look for clues and find several cold packs with the Locke Lobster logo. Nancy grabs a pack and tosses it to Pete, and they all head off to the docks, wondering why a successful lobster guy is selling drugs on the side. On the drive, Pete discovers the cold pack is actually full of drugs. Locke is more than just a seller.
At the docks, the kids start looking around and are confronted by Locke and some of his workers, who accuse them of trespassing. Nancy notices their shoes are wet and urges Joe to check out the boat, and he exits dramatically. Nancy accuses Locke point blank, realizing that they know too much already, so they might as well go all in. As she talks, she notices a subtle difference in how the boxes of lobsters are marked. She asks Locke the crucial question – why? It turns out he hates the lobster business, and he murdered the women because they got too nosy about his other business. (I don’t mind having a villain who explains his plot here, especially since this is a mystery and not a police procedural.) Nancy starts a distraction.
Meanwhile, on the boat Joe finds Bess and another young woman, Jennifer, gagged and tied up. He frees Bess and tells her what’s going on – she zips away – and turns to Jennifer, only to find a gun pointed to his head. He and Jennifer back up, and Bess clocks the gunman from behind with a fire extinguisher. As they step off the boat, there is an explosion and the warehouse catches fire – Nancy’s distraction at work.
And then it’s all over but the clean-up. The police arrive, and don’t take too kindly to them, especially since burning the warehouse down means a lot of evidence will go with it. They do find drugs on the boat, however. The media also shows up, and Nancy declines to speak with them, instead encouraging Pete to take this chance to clear his mother’s name. This is followed by a really sweet exchange with her friends about whether she should remain in Bayport or not. Nancy’s phone starts pinging madly. She finally looks at it – her friend Noah is warning her that she’s about to be arrested, which she promptly is.
This entire arc is satisfying as a mystery. Everything Nancy and her friends do seems plausible. They are bright young people who do some actual investigating to figure things out. They are part of our present world, and they are vulnerable – they are not necessarily going to be believed, and this can be dangerous for them. If I have any quibble with this arc, I think that we have too many people doing the investigation. I forgot George’s girlfriend’s name, and it was not dropped again. If we introduce the Hardy Boys here in the hopes of them having their own book, that’s great, and I’d love to read it. But it gets a little awkward for a teen detective to have an entourage of five or six people helping her investigate. The wrap-up is tidy and satisfying, and the end is a great lead to make you want to see another arc.
THINGS GET SERIOUS
This story became a murder mystery, but in Nancy Drew #5, it really starts feeling dangerous. The level of danger you have for a story set in the present day is all around higher than that from earlier iterations (especially those from the 1930’s or 40’s). And you see that realization in all the young people’s faces, most of all Nancy’s. It’s one thing to put yourself at risk in a perilous situation, but it’s quite another thing to put others at risk, particularly when they’re your friends. Horror and desperation give way to resolution.
The lobster warehouse looks creepy at night, and if you are paying attention, the boxes are indeed marked differently. Details count a lot for making a mystery satisfying, and they’ve taken great care with them. And the warehouse works/thugs look quite threatening.
I have to say I also really appreciate Bess Marvin as she’s drawn. She is plump, but she is still lovely (even after her abduction and rescue, when she’s disheveled and grubby), and she is undeniably capable. I love to see her like that, and not simply as comic relief. There are still comedic moments, but I like that Nancy’s friends are not portrayed as stupid so she looks smarter; they’re all smart kids who can contribute something important.
BOTTOM LINE: NANCY DREW HAS STILL GOT IT
Nancy Drew #5 closes a strong story arc that not only introduces us to her world and her friends but contains a solid mystery that seems entirely plausible. I think it shows that the concept of Nancy Drew is as engaging as ever, and can be adapted to fit into the present. The art throughout has been lovely, really drawing us in and making us care about the characters. Nancy has plenty of room for character development, and I would love to see more.
Nancy Drew #5
Nancy Drew #5 closes a strong story arc that not only introduces us to her world and her friends, but contains a solid mystery that seems entirely plausible. I think it shows that the concept of Nancy Drew is as engaging as ever, and can be adapted to fit into the present. The art throughout has been lovely, really drawing us in and making us care about the characters. Nancy has plenty of room for character development, and I would love to see more.