Every week of 2020 will likely end with the same resounding chorus: "What a weird week."
The week of January 19th was no exception. In the past few days we saw the deaths of two cultural icons who helped to shape American culture for the past 90+ years. First, we saw the demise of Mr. Peanut, a gay cannibal who ultimately succumbed to the pressures of capitalism. Now, still reeling from that shock, we're forced to deal with the passing of Detective Nancy Drew.
A new monthly comic from Dynamite, meant to celebrate the young sleuth's 90th year in print, will reportedly be called Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew fans all over the world are outraged at this news and not just because the story of one of their favorite characters is finally coming to a close. Many feel that the decision to kill Drew and then put the spotlight on male detectives' efforts to solve her murder completely undermines the Nancy Drew franchise's legacy of empowering young girls. Indeed, iconic women like Sandra Day O'Connor and Hillary Rodham Clinton have specifically cited Nancy Drew as a source of feminist inspiration. Many angry fans took to Twitter to lament this decision:
But many fans are refusing to accept the news of Nancy's imminent demise and are instead sharing their theories about a clever twist that will reveal Nancy is alive after all.
While it's a good thing that we have collectively become aware of the patriarchal tendencies in the art we love, it's also worth noting that it is simply too soon to say what will really become of Nancy Drew in this new comic series. As many people pointed out on Twitter, Nancy Drew books have always outpaced The Hardy Boys in popularity since they came out, which—from a purely capitalist perspective—makes it seem unlikely that Nancy will be completely eliminated while The Hardy Boys are allowed to live on. Not only that, but if the big drama of this new series is going to be Nancy's death, then why would they choose to announce it in the title? Its much more likely that she will prove one and for all her ability to outsmart the boys whose toxic masculinity make them believe they have the chops to solve crimes (when in reality they just end up in tricky situations they have to find their way out of, which is not the same as being a detective). Or perhaps she will finally inspire them to harness the interrogative powers of the male gaze so they act on the rates of violence against women in this country. Or maybe we'll finally learn that Nancy Drew is actually canonically gay and she simply faked her death in order to run off with a female lover.
Its more than likely that our favorite sleuth has more tricks up her sleeve, and we'll see her solving mysteries for many more years to come.
But, if Nancy Drew really has solved her last mystery, then Dynamite comics better prepare for a storm of vitriol from a generation of young women inspired by the cunning and courage of a young, female sleuth.