Story: Anthony Del Col
Art: Werther Dell’Edera
Colors: Stefano Simeone
Letterer: Simon Bowland
What They Say:
When the teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of the murder of their father – a detective in the small resort town of Bayport – they must team up with the femme fatale nancy drew to prove their innocence (and find the real guilty party in the process) in a twisting, hard-boiled tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit and dames.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Like a lot of people from my generation and before, you grew up at least aware of the characters of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I had a lot of collections of both (plus Encyclopedia Brown!) and enjoyed the basic mysteries and character/location explorations that they offered. As we’ve seen with a lot of older properties there are always attempts to update them and make them engaging for new audiences while trying to draw in the nostalgia factor. The biggest examples these days are the Archie books, which have had some really great updates and explorations that has also lead to the far too fun Riverdale TV series. You can see that intent with this series and it’s one that could admittedly work well. I went into this book kind of on a lark just to see what it was and ended up coming away wanting the next issue right now.
The book gives us a fairly standard setup in that we have two teenage boys in Frank and Joe Hardy that are alike and different in many ways. They’re solid students, good kids, and definitely smart when it comes to figuring things out. The problem comes when their father, a lead detective in the sleepy New England resort town, is accused of corruption at Thanksgiving and hauled in for an investigation. Things are drawn out for a few months and he ends up taking his life at the end of March. But though it was viewed as a suicide, complete with note, the focus from the police is on turning it into a murder with his kids as suspects since they’ve been problems for the department in general, reasons not made fully clear here. That sets up the core idea and puts Frank and Joe very much on the outside of everything.
What’s interesting is that we basically get the book told from the point of view of both of them as they’re interrogated separately and it clues us into their personalities and approach in a good way, especially with Frank being more talkative and superior in a way to his interrogator to try and goad him out. Joe’s more a bit more straightforward as the silent type but there are good bits with both as the interrogators take them through the night of the murder/suicide to try and pin them down in a lie or something else to hold them with. This introduces us to some of the cast, the setting, and the basics of what happened with some fun twists, particularly “The Birdie” that has given them an idea of what’s going on in secret and is intent on helping them. While you know it’s Nancy Drew, I really liked that they played it coy until the very last page to introduce her and showcase her as being probably the smartest of the group, but a group that will need each other to solve this mystery setup against the boys’ father.
While I don’t have a lot in the way of nostalgia towards the original works and they’re not something I can pickup and reread, I was curious to see how a new update would go. There are certainly obvious things being done here that we’re seeing in other franchise of the same nature to try and modernize them and it’s usually hit or miss. Based on this first installment and its potential I’m going to classify this one as a hit with the ability to be a really strong hit out of the park depending on how it all plays out. Anthony Del Col catches a good narrative voice for each of the boys and sets the stage well when it comes to the town while Werther Dell’Edera delivers a fantastic looking book that’s rich in detail and tone that has the right edge of creepiness but also that sense of normalcy about it. I’m excited to see where the second installment goes as the cast expands and interactions grow. This is a book worth taking a shot with for something different and engaging.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: March 8th, 2017