Giving Nancy Drew only two bullets is painful for me, but there it is. As usual, the art is just stunning — Sho Murase makes me eat my words pertaining to manga, creating believable tension between the Hardy Boys and between the siblings and Nancy Drew. We’ve never seen Nancy blow up like that, but Murase makes it perfectly believable. The story, however — ohhhhh, that story.
The thing about Stephen Petrucha and Sarah Kinney’s run on Nancy Drew is that I never felt I was being talked down to, but that’s mostly how I felt while reading Gerry Conway’s work for the book. He starts off well. A timely and exciting rescue involving car ramming introduces the Hardy Boys to the Nancy Drew reading public, and the characterization of the trio remains true. The plot goes straight downhill.
This is the conclusion to the “vampire” thread begun by Petrucha and Kinney, and if you look at those reviews, you’ll see what I judged to be a really good chapterplay worthy of Nancy Drew. This one doesn’t merrit either Nancy or the Hardy Boys. Come to think of it, it doesn’t even rate the involvement of Goober and the Ghostchasers.
Conway smashes the suspension of disbelief by attempting to generate false suspense. He belabors the exposition to unwittingly create a risible story so far. He orchestrates an utterly unbelievable escape and ultimately ends up with a solution that was trite when soap operas began using it.
Conway essays the faux tension by portraying the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as stupid. There’s no reason why they all had to jump into the surprisingly, actually shockingly, fast moving ice tram to reach the castle hideout of the Big Bad. Even in When Eagles Dare, the Eagles who were more pressed for time made multiple trips in a slower moving tram to penetrate their Nazi target.
Having Garina shout, “You used me! You brain-washed me to hunt my own brother as a vampire!” is the kiss of death. I can just imagine the Satellite of Love’s crew chortling to that, and rightfully so. Nancy in an earlier scene sums up what occurred in previous volumes. So we don’t need a second summation, and we certainly don’t need this summation. Dolloping all of that at once just kills any good faith you shared with the reader. Conway should simply had Garina exclaim “You used me!” Less is more.
While I applaud Nancy’s ingenuity in retrieving her means of escape, an empty suit of armor cannot possibly shatter the iron bars that hold she and the Hardy Boys captive. Exactly what wore that suit of armor? Conway attempts to make the ploy seem plausible by planting a giant-sized suit of armor, but even if such a giant existed, the armor’s empty. It doesn’t have the weight and Nancy doesn’t give it enough velocity for it to make a dent in those bars.
The reveal of the master behind this scheme is an extreme disappointment, and his behavior borders on camp. The team-up of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew was inevitable, but they deserved more than this pedestrian story with numerous factual flaws hamstringing the plot.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.