Nancy Drew is...dead? A new comic celebrates the character's 90th birthday in a macabre way

Don't come for Nancy Drew, she will cut you. Cover detail of "The Secret of the Old Clock" © 1930 via Wikimedia

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. Just think about what the cultural landscape must’ve been like in May of 1930, when Simon & Schuster published the first Nancy Drew novel, The Secret of the Old Clock, by the pseudonymous Carolyn Keene.

Reading about an independent, brainy female detective was revolutionary for generations of women: leaders like Sandra Day O’Connor and Hillary Rodham Clinton have cited her as an inspiration. I’m a Nancy Drew devotee myself. Her plucky spirit held up through the ‘90s, when I was devouring the books, and the 2000s, when I spent all my free-time playing the PC games. Heck, I still think the character rules, and the newish CW show about her is a fave of mine now.

Anyhow, a new comic from Dynamite, part of the series Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, written by Anthony Del Col and illustrated by Riverdale artist Joe Eisma, made a splash by announcing the premise of the issue ostensibly meant to celebrate the female detective’s 90th anniversary. It’s called The Death of Nancy Drew. Yes, these men killed a beloved female literary character on her birthday. The subtext is overwhelming.

I guess the Hardy Boys are on the case, however, investigating the sleuth’s demise. And I can hardly imagine Nancy is really dead… It’ll probably turn out Nancy faked her own death to ensnare the Hardy bros, who are secretly in leagues with Jeff Bezos, illegally collecting the data of Americans through their Alexas and selling it to Russian hackers. Gasp! Or something like that.

Still, many fans thought publicizing an anniversary comic with its heroine’s death was in poor taste. But there’s no doubt it’s been an effective marketing ploy. A lot of Nancy Drew devotees are bound to buy the comic to find out what happens to her, even if it’s a rage-purchase. Eisma responded to the backlash on Friday, saying, "I just hope folks will give us a chance."