Nancy Drew: The Demon of River Heights
This graphic novel take on the classic detective heroine opens with Nancy, her boyfriend Ned, and her best friends George and Bess making a monster movie. George is technologically savvy, while Bess is boy-crazy. Conveniently, that leads the three into a mystery, as the other students Bess was flirting with have disappeared.
The girls set off to find out what happened in Nancy Drew: The Demon of River Heights. While following their trail through the woods, the three come face-to-face with a bear in one of the action sequences that pepper the book. There’s also a crooked financier to deal with and the over-arching question of whether there’s a real monster attacking people. Are the students really missing, or are they just staging a publicity stunt to start rumors and promote their film? This plot is well-suited to writer Stefan Petrucha, who got lots of practice with similar questions writing X-Files comics.
The art by Sho Murase has a distinctive look, with sketchy figures against photo-manipulated backgrounds, and the girls look like teenagers, with delicate features and flowing hair. The number of night scenes means lots of suspense-filled dark pages, which I found sometimes hard to read.
The reader has to be willing to play along, or some of the elements may seem a bit too contrived. Nancy’s a good detective, for example, observant of small clues, but she’s also so absent-minded that she can’t get away from a threat because she keeps forgetting to put gas in her car. Her drive to investigate also leads her to jump into dangerous situations before thinking.
Older readers might find the reliance on coincidence too predictable, but younger ones will likely get lost in the adventure. For them, Nancy and her friends are cool in the way they do outrageous things light-heartedly.