Death of Nancy Drew
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Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Killing Nancy Drew sidelines more than just her character

Contributed by
Jan 27, 2020

Nancy Drew is dead — at least, she is in the pages of her new monthly comic series. In a preview of the latest run of her team up with The Hardy Boys, The Death of Nancy Drew, published by Dynamite (a follow up to The Big Lie), Nancy has been murdered and it's up to Frank and Joe Hardy to solve the case.

The series is intended as a way to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the character, who was first created in 1930 and has appeared in a number of ongoing book series almost the entire time she has existed. Celebrating her ninetieth birthday was always going to mean something big, but killing the character off is not the best look for her latest literary custodians. Not only does it brush her aside in favor of her male counterparts — itself a poor choice for a character that has resonated with generations of young women — but it does a disservice to a host of other characters who have frankly earned their own place in the spotlight: Nancy's friends.

Frank and Joe Hardy predate Nancy Drew by a few years with their series beginning in 1927, the success of which lead their publisher to create a similar series to market to girls the way they had marketed the Hardys to, well, boys. In 1930, Nancy Drew made her first appearance in The Secret of the Old Clock. It was a solo adventure, at the time introducing only her father and their maid Hannah but that changed just a few books into the series.

Credit: Penguin Random House

In The Secret of Shadow Ranch, the fifth book in the series, writer Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym used, at the time, by author Mildred Wirt Benson) introduced a few friends for the teen sleuth: cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne. Two books after that, in The Clue in the Diary, Nancy would meet a strapping young college boy named Ned Nickerson. Ever since, Bess, George, and Ned have been mainstays in the multitude of Nancy Drew adventures, appearing in nearly as many books as the titular heroine and becoming almost synonymous with Nancy herself. Versions of all three characters have also appeared in nearly every adaptation of the books that has been made for moviegoers or TV fans, including the latest on The CW.

Notably absent: Frank and Joe Hardy. In fact, the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys wouldn't team up until 1976 in a short-lived television series and wouldn't share a book series until the late '80s. The teen detectives have joined forces a handful of relatively high-profile times throughout the decades, and Frank and Joe are even available as phone-a-friend options in the popular series of video games from Her Interactive. For this reason, the average reader may associate the two teen detective acts with one another, but for fans of Nancy Drew, handing her murder over to the Hardys not only disrespects an iconic character and hero to countless women and girls (and likely everyone in between), it also shortchanges Nancy's entire cast of characters.

Bess, George, and Ned have been by Nancy's side for nearly a century. They've been instrumental in helping to craft the world that gave readers their tough and capable teen hero, and they've been instrumental in helping Nancy solve dozens of cases along the way. They've more than proved that they have the skills and the guts to take on whatever lands in front of them, Nancy or not and any fan of the books will tell you that it's well within their characterization to take on the case of Nancy's murder all on their own, Hardys be damned.

Admittedly, there isn't a ton of information out there about the actual content of the comic series. The press has so far only been provided with some initial information and artwork. In the age-old tradition of comics, Nancy's death is unlikely to stick, especially if Dynamite wants to continue using the character in future series. But while I would be thrilled to watch Nancy solve her own murder alongside her friends, it doesn't entirely make sense that those friends would be the Hardy Boys. They may be capable teen detectives in their own right, but they haven't been by Nancy's side through thick and thin on cases ranging from murders to stolen property to a shocking number of hauntings. That honor goes to her real friends, and if anyone deserves to avenge her death, it's them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.

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