Nancy Drew — the beloved teen sleuth whose adventures are canonized in hundreds of chapter books, a couple TV series, a few movies, and an enthralling series of computer games — is about to celebrate her 90th birthday. It’s quite a milestone and cause to celebrate the pioneering character.
The monthly series, called Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew, follows Dynamite’s previous title, Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie, though Dynamite has stated that they’re standalone series that don’t need to be read together. The writer of that series, Anthony Del Col, is back for The Death of Nancy Drew, and is joined by Riverdale artist Joe Eisma.
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have a long history of crossovers. ABC’s The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ran from 1977-1979, and a joint novel series, Super Mystery, lasted for nearly 10 years, until publisher Simon & Schuster cancelled nearly every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys spin-off series in 1997.
Despite the characters’ long history as friends and collaborators, killing off a female character and handing her job to two young men isn’t a great look. And hey, even if a quick plot twist reveals that Nancy’s death was all a fakeout, it sure doesn’t seem like the best way to publicize your Nancy Drew anniversary story. Especially given how strongly Nancy Drew has resonated with young women for nearly a century. Heck, in the introduction to the Nancy Drew Wikipedia page she’s cited as an inspiration for women like Sandra Day O’Connor and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Originally conceived as a feminine counterpart to The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew’s cult following has arguably surpassed the brothers’. Simon & Schuster is still printing both Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, produced by a cadre of ghostwriters under the pseudonyms Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon (as they have been since their inception). But Nancy is the teen sleuth that’s been adapted the most often — right now a decidedly Gen-Z Nancy has her own stylish CW show in the vein of Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And leagues of millennials lost hours of our childhoods to the excellent Nancy Drew computer games.
It’s disappointing to see what appears to be another cherished character getting fridged in service of a man’s (or in this, case, two teen boys’) story, but here’s hoping Nancy has more control over her destiny that it appears at first blush. And that we get to see her use her iconic magnifying glass at least once.