Review: Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys #1: The Big Lie

nancyhardy001covcsubhackNancy Drew and Frank and Joe Hardy have had numerous incarnations over the years–Nancy has been developed for younger readers, young adult readers, and the PC gaming crowd with a successful (and ongoing) series of games by Her Interactive. The Hardy Boys have had similar incarnations throughout the years, often teaming up with Nancy in TV shows, in the Her Interactive games, and their own less successful video games.

The original Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book series are classics that have not aged perfectly, and both series have been revised to remove content that contributes to racial stereotyping. Last year, CBS dumped the pilot of the TV show “Drew” for being “too female,” and despite numerous spin-offs over the years, Dynamite Entertainment’s new series Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie is the first new media for these characters in a while.

As a child, I read and collected each of the original 56 books and read a few Hardy Boys stories, something that consumed my elementary school reading habits. Then I moved right on to Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie in fifth grade, lamenting the fact that Nancy never got to solve any murders.

Nancy, Frank, and Joe will get their shot at solving a murder with Anthony Del Col and Werther Dell’Edera’s Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. The first issue isn’t perfect, but it’s an enjoyable tribute to the original series. When Frank and Joe’s father is murdered, they become suspects. Frank and Joe must team up with Nancy Drew to clear their names and get to the heart of a murder that rocked the otherwise sleepy town of Bayport.

The story is a much more intense take on the mysteries these teenagers usually get to solve. NDatHB #1 toes the line of “gritty reboot,” but on a gritty reboot scale of 1 to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, this comic rates about a 3.5.

Dell’Edera’s art sets the tone for a modern comic that feels vintage. Halftone and crosshatching makes the book feel like an old comic strip or book and makes the comic feel true to its source material. The art dramatizes the page with heavy shading used judiciously. It’s noir without feeling too noir for a comic about a bunch of teenage detectives.

Stefano Simeone incorporates subtle sepia tones, further enhancing the vintage feel. The colors shift well with the mood, enhancing the building anger of Frank and Joe’s interrogations and setting the tone for some tense party scenes later in the book. Simeone’s muted colors also serve to keep the story from getting too dark, literally.

The biggest issue NDaTHB #1 has is that the art and writing are sometimes at odds with one another. The decidedly vintage art style and ambiguously clothed main characters meant that I had a hard time parsing what time period this book was set in until Frank said, “Collig’s not the smartest app on the phone.” I have never heard one of my fellow Millennials speak this way and probably never will, but points for trying.

For the most part, though, the dialogue captures the sass that have gotten Frank and Joe into trouble many a time, balancing it out with more serious moments. Nancy Drew steals the show entirely, and I’m excited for her character based on her cool leather jacket alone.

The first issue of the comic wasn’t perfect, but showed a lot of promise. Mystery fans, fans of the original series, and fans of Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s Goldie Vance will likely enjoy Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys for its vintage charm, amped-up drama, and superb art.

Story: Anthony Del Col Art: Werther Dell’Edera
Story: 6.8 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.9 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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