Review – Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #2 (Dynamite)

Publisher: Dynamite
Writer: Anthony Del Col
Artwork: Werther Dell’Edera, Stefano Simeone (colours)
Release Date: 12th April 2017

After a solid opening issue, the addition of a certain Miss Drew adds an extra jolt of dynamism to the proceedings as the logic behind the events of the first chapter – a chapter which saw Frank and Joe Hardy being questioned in relation to the murder of their father – is finally revealed.  Nancy has a plan, you see, and like all good plans, there are a lot of different moving parts that need to be coordinated.  Moving parts like local criminals the Rover brothers, who may or may not have information about just who killed  Fenton Hardy.

There’s definitely something of a Riverdale-esque approach here as, much like the CW television show, this is a decidedly more ‘grown up’ look at these familiar characters than we’re use to seeing.  Writer Anthony Del Col revels in this, recreating the childhood mystery exploits we’re all familiar with during one particular flashback scene, but also showing us how our title trio have matured over the years into the almost unrecognizable characters they are today.

The main focus is squarely on Nancy Drew here, and Del Col provides us with a quick recap of her formative years from the death of her mother to the fall from grace of her father to her subsequent ‘rebellious phase’. The interesting twist of having Nancy’s father be the Federal Prosecutor on the trial of Fenton Hardy adds some extra intrigue to the proceedings, and the plan – while fairly derivative in and of itself – is given some extra legs by the unusual dynamic between the title trio.  The tension between Frank and Joe and their individual desire to try and impress Nancy leads to some fairly combustible exchanges, to say the least.

One thing that’s working against the book a little to this point is the fact that none of the leads are particularly likeable.  Frank is surly and belligerent, Joe is flat-out whiny and Nancy is more than a little smug and manipulative, so it’s difficult to feel too invested in the story beyond wanting to find out the answer to the overall mystery.  Hopefully this will improve as the series continues, otherwise this could end up being a fairly superficial, ultimately unrewarding story.

The artistic partnership of Werther Dell’Edera and Stefano Simeone do another solid job, with the former using a basic, understated approach to his linework and the latter calling on a fairly stripped-down, muted colour palette.  There’s nothing particularly flashy about the artwork, seemingly by design, but the heavily-shadowed panels and subtle tweaks in facial expressions from panel to panel do a great job of making this feel a lot more like a hard-boiled crime noir than a “gee whiz” children’s adventure yarn.

Ultimately this is another enjoyable issue, with the grounded tone now firmly established and the hooks of the mystery – such as they are – now well and truly embedded.  It’s just a shame the leads aren’t more likeable, because the way things stand now it’s difficult to really get invested in what’s going on and the stakes, while undeniably high, don’t really feel all that urgent.  Definitely one to keep an eye on though, that’s for sure.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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2 Comments on Review – Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #2 (Dynamite)

  1. As a life-long fan of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, I bought the first two issues. I’m sad to say I couldn’t make it through the first. I think your review points out the flaws: “changing the trio to the almost unrecognizable characters they are today” definitely contributes to making them unlikable. It seems like the change is an intentional slap in the face of all the characters stood for the past 75 years. Even the brief reference to the Bobbsey Twins takes classic children’s characters and twists them. The nature of the deaths and the falls from grace, the downward spiral of the Hardy family – all of it seems contrived just to make the book “edgy” and without much of a link to the solid history these characters have. I won’t invest any more in the series and that’s frustrating, because this was a great opportunity to bring the characters back in a strong way.

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