Nancy Drew has died in a terrible accident, but Joe Hardy is positive that it was murder! How deep does this conspiracy go, and what does it have to do with the mysterious Syndicate?
This series has had something of an uphill battle since it was announced. Many fans have taken issue with the fact that this series that is ostensibly meant to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew begins with the famous female detective dead and buried. Still, there have been some reasons to look forward to this story. Despite its overly dramatic tone, the previous Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys miniseries written by Anthony Del Col was an interesting modern take on the property. Del Col is clearly a fan of the characters, so I personally wanted to approach this first issue with an open mind.
Unfortunately, The Death of Nancy Drew is an even more dour and unpleasant affair than the title would suggest. Characters trudge through the rain and monologue over their disgust with the world, where people call each other “sluts” in an offhanded fashion, and where Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have become unrecognizable caricatures of themselves, hurting and lying to one another at every turn.
Not only that, but this series is hurt by the fact that it’s being sold as its own separate story. If you haven’t read The Big Lie, you’re not going to really get a feel for this take on the characters. Even the massive exposition drops throughout will bring new readers much understanding here, which ends up doing a disservice both to this first issue and to the characterization built through the preceding miniseries.
Even the look of the book is unpleasant. There are occasional moments that look interesting — a panel of Joe with light shining onto him through closed blinds is a standout — but most of it feels somewhat lifeless. The colors are all muted browns and blues. The comic is clearly aiming for a noir feel, but it ends up just appearing muddy.
The characters all end up looking rather interchangeable, particularly the women. Many of the female characters look like Nancy Drew with different hair colors, while Joe Hardy himself will occasionally have no discernible facial expression. It all just feels very surface level.
There are some bright spots. A few of Joe’s sarcastic lines land well. The writer understands the nature of grief, and a few of the moments that really lean into that work well. The final page opens up some interesting possibilities for the rest of this storyline.
Still, it’s not enough that I think I’ll be sticking with it. Your mileage may vary, but I just didn’t find this to be much fun to read.
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