Story: Anthony Del Col
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Salvatore Aiala
What They Say:
Is Nancy Drew really dead? Is she still alive? Joe and Frank Hardy dive deeper into what exactly happened the night of Nancy’s death and discover something much deeper at play. Check out the continuation of this much-buzzed series, for Nancy Drew fans new and old (and viewers of the popular CW series).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from mysteries, it’s that if you don’t see a body, you can’t take it for granted that a person is dead. This goes double for comics, so when you’ve got a mystery comic? Well, then all bets are off.
If you read the previous issue, then you know that Nancy wasn’t actually dead. One would think that would make Joe Hardy, one of her oldest friends, happy. Instead, he’s hurt that she not only allowed him to think she was dead, she enlisted the help of his brother Frank to make it possible. It’s a rough start, to be sure, but now that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are back together, they should be able to get to the bottom of who tried to kill her.
If Joe can keep it together, that is.
It turns out that someone did try to drive Nancy off the road that rainy night about a week ago. Thankfully, she was a better driver and swimmer than the killers anticipated, and she was able to get away. She used the corpse of one of her attackers, a young woman named Jenna, as a decoy so she could go undercover and discover who put the hit out on her. She couldn’t do it all on her own, though. In addition to Frank’s net know-how, she also enlists the aid of the coroner, who also happens to be Jenna’s older sister.
Already you can see that things are getting complicated here. I’m barely past page three of the comic in my summary, and that gets at the issue with this second issue and the series so far: there’s way too much plot and not enough story.
This issue mostly focuses on two issues: Joe’s hurt feelings over being left out, and the investigation into who tried to bump Nancy off. During the process of the investigation, we also learn more about Nancy’s hometown, specifically the class warfare that’s been dominating it since the economic depression, and it’s a bit much to take in. Every good mystery requires misdirection and obfuscation—that’s part of the game—but this feels more like scenes stitched together rather than a cohesive, organic plot with areas designed to lead you to the wrong answers.
There seems to be a lack of focus to this story, and that goes right down to the point of view. The last issue was told from Joe’s point of view, which was problematic to say the least (see my last review for the full skinny on that). This issue is told from Nancy’s, but it doesn’t really give her the agency that was lacking in the first issue. Joe still dominates the emotional parts of the story. He’s the one who feels left out and undervalued, and even though we get glimpses into Nancy’s thoughts and feelings, such as missing her dad, they don’t come out nearly as clear and strong as Joe’s. The story is setting up a character arc, but it’s Joe’s, not Nancy’s.
The art is pretty shaky in many places. Perhaps the best example of this is on page three (or maybe four, it’s hard to say with digital copies). It’s a flashback scene where we see the car attack against Nancy. There isn’t a strong sense of space and depth to the panels, and the panel where the car rams into Nancy’s is visually confusing. I just looked over it again and finally noticed that it’s a top down view. The car smashes into Nancy’s rear bumper, and a woman goes flying out of the window. This is Jenna, although it took me some time to figure that out. I initially thought that she was riding in the car with Nancy, and had been killed in the crash. Instead, she flies out the window and I guess into the bay close to where Nancy’s car lands. Pretty convenient, really.
The colors are also off. They’re flat, drab, and lifeless, mostly in shades of yellow, tan, and beige. I think it’s going for a sepia-tone look to approximate a Noir aesthetic, but I could be wrong. Everything looks washed out and dull, and it sucks the energy right out of this book.
That’s the largest issue with this: it’s not fun. This is a drab, lifeless, hollow story that just sort of exists. There’s no heart to it, no verve, no enjoyment. It’s like it’s trying too hard to be hardboiled, but it lacks that spark, that sexiness that makes hardboiled stories so much fun even though the stories themselves are often bleak and tragic.
The Death of Nancy Drew #2 is a drab, sepia-toned book that meanders with no real sense of story. It’s like it’s taken the more boring parts of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and hardboiled fiction and mixed them into this unappetizing slurry. I’m not sure how many more issues there are going to be in this series, but hopefully it will either end soon, or find the joy in what it’s trying to do.
Dr. J gives this a…
Age Rating: Teen +
Released By: Dynamite Comics
Release Date: July 8th, 2020