Comics: Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom-TP

I have certainly not been shy about my frustrations with many of the Dynamite comic titles I have read. Ranging on a scale from “meh” to complete story ruining sexism, I got to the point where I just didn’t feel the need to read many of their titles. I would much rather read and review something that I feel strongly about, especially when there are so many great titles being put out currently. That being said, when I was offered the trade paperback of Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom, my interest was piqued. The Nancy Drew series was one of the first ones that I can remember reading as a young girl. Myself and several of my cousins were obsessed with Nancy and her gal pals, Bess and George, to the point of often pretending to be them when playing together. Though I do often struggle through some of the Dynamite titles, I definitely wanted to check this piece out, even if for nostalgic purposes alone.

Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom follows a high school aged Nancy who now lives in the town of River Heights after moving from Bayport following the tragic loss of her mother.  Seeking a fresh start and distancing herself from reminders of that sad time in her life, Nancy had cut herself off from both the city of Bayport in general and the friends she had grown up with. However, when she receives a mysterious, seemingly threatening letter which implies that her mother’s death was not simply an accident, Nancy is forced to face her past and her memories in the town of Bayport once more. I was delighted to find Bayport the town I remembered from my childhood, just with modern updates. Upon her arrival Nancy is greeted by long time besties, Bess and George, who I have always had a special place in my heart for. Fast thinking, inquisitive Nancy, snarky, smart mouthed George and cheerful, bubbly Bess create a really dynamic, interesting crime fighting trio. The three girls were exactly how I remembered them, personality wise, just with fresh, modern adaptations to style and conversation. Writer, Kelly Thompson, who is best known for her re-imagination of the Jem and the Holograms comic in 2015, was an excellent choice for the revamping of Nancy Drew. The story has many twists and turns, several explosive action sequences and the dialogue is definitely interesting enough to keep readers invested the entire time. I actually read the entire book in one sitting and was thoroughly entertained. I feel like my largest gripe with Dynamite and similar publishers’ titles in the past has been that they have so many titles with female leads and not a single female working on the comic. There is something about being able to tell when a writer writes what they know. Of course, obviously not everyone can always write characters or stories that are inspired by truth, but there is a level of clarity and how well a story flows when you realize that the writer finds things he or she relates to when writing a character.  Kelly Thompson brought the right perspective for a comic like Nancy Drew and I am excited to see where this takes her next. This comic is not only for nostalgic old ladies like me; it has the potential to reawaken a Nancy Drew obsession in a whole new generation. Jen St-Onge is the talented artist behind the whimsical, feminine art in Nancy Drew: Palace of Wisdom. She did a fantastic job updating and modernizing the characters while still keeping true to the original source material. The style is very hip and youthful and she definitely brings a Disney-like quality to the characters.  I love the fun, cartoony style of the characters that still allows for expressiveness that she has developed. The color palette that colorist Triona Farrell brings to the story is vibrant and bright. Every page is alive with color which just adds to the overall youthful, modern vibe of the comic. The female driven team responsible for this new Nancy Drew story works well together and brings a wonderful story to life once more. I had no idea that my beloved Nancy Drew was getting her own comic series so I am extremely happy with the talented team that Dynamite chose to contribute to this title.

Because of how much I enjoyed Nancy Drew: Palace of Wisdom I am willing to give Dynamite another shot. They absolutely made smart choices when choosing the creative talent for this series and it’s a choice that I hope to see reflected in more of their books. I think there are absolutely certain books that will be stronger stories when there is more of a variety of people working on the team, particularly those who could offer real life experience when creating characters. In no way am I trying to say men lack the creativity and imagination to write or draw female characters, but I do find for female centric stories it is helpful to have some women on the team, or you tend to be left with the type of monotonous eye roll worthy drivel that Zenescope keeps publishing.  Nancy Drew was truly a breath of fresh air and I believe it will appeal to audiences young and old. I am very excited to read what comes next after this trade paperback is released on April 2nd as well as remaining relatively optimistic in regards to the newer work Dynamite is publishing. 

-Rachel Rutherford