Trade Watching – Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1
Author Anthony Del Col
Artist Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist Stefano Simeone
Letters Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite

Famous literary characters and works have been adapted into graphic novels and single issue comic books for quite some time and have covered a wide span of classic and contemporary literature. Marvel Illustrated, an imprint of Marvel Comics, started in 2007 and adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Eric Shanower & Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz series. As licensed properties have increased in popularity, there has also been a rise in old characters making new appearances.

Last week, comics saw the resurrection of childhood literary classic characters Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. At over 85 years old, there are reasons why the teenaged detectives still resonate with contemporary readers. Their original, post-depression era perspectives on the prosperity of the United States was far from the plucky, wholesome teens of the 1960s and show how their characters morph to the current socioeconomic and political climate. While they have made appearances in graphic novel form from the children’s graphic novel publisher Papercuts, this new rendition of the classic detectives is not for the young of heart.

The first page of this issues hits full force with nostalgia featuring the sleepy New England town of Bayport, which may be a friendly place to live if you are not Frank and Joe Hardy. Their father, a corrupt cop taking bribes, had disgraced his family and their town and pitted Frank and Joe against each other in regards to their father’s innocence. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Comic Cover #1As the Hardy Boys soon learn, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children because they are quickly taken into custody in their father’s perhaps not-so apparent suicide. The story quickly moves from a nostalgic driven narrative to a hard-boiled police procedural with a good cop/bad cop dichotomy when a mysterious birdie emerges from a clock, and an old friend  returns with a plan to find who really killed their father.

This book is a collaboration of Anthony Del Col, co-author of Kill Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini, and Assassin’s Creed and artist Werther Dell’Edera of G.I. Joe and Detective Comics. Del Col’s experience morphing established characters into new forms lends itself well to the Hardy Boys. These brothers, who obviously love each other, are being torn apart over the controversy surrounding their father, a story told in many classic tales. Use of heavy narration by the Hardy Boys is overwrought and doesn’t lend itself well to the comic book medium because the art at times became ignorable because it is not integral to the storytelling. Also, the title is Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, though we aren’t introduce to Nancy properly in this issue.

Colors also play an important part in this issue. As the timeline shifts from the interrogation room to the past and present timelines, shadows are used for their intensity and chaotic nature in the integration room while brighter, matte colors are used for present day scenes of teenage life. The overall tone of the book is darker that many readers would expect from a nostalgic title.

For readers who enjoy a good femme fatale, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys may fit the bill in a lighter tone than Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Fade Out. These teen detectives deal with hardcore issues in a serious manner. I’m excited to see where this book goes over the next few issues and think it will be a hit for adult fans who grew up with these teen detectives.

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