This is year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that allow women the right to vote in the United States in 1920. This year also marks the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew, the teenage heroine detective created as a counterpoint to the Hardy Boys in 1930. A beloved character still popular with generations of readers and viewers today. Dynamite Comics recently announced a new comic book series called, “Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew.”
Nancy Drew is dead and the Hardy Boys solving her murder. She’s not only killed off but also fridged, invoking two comic book tropes to jump start interest and sales. Only a male writer could have thought of stuffing Nancy Drew’s dead body into a fridge was an exciting way to celebrate her 90th anniversary.
I have a confession to make about Nancy Drew. I’ve only watched “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” TV series in the late 1970s. Not only did I love Pamela Sue Martin playing Nancy Drew, but also as Fallon Carrington in the 1980s TV series, “Dynasty.” I haven’t read any of the original Nancy Drew books, or watched any of the newer movies and TV series.
The most famous example of killing off a popular comic book character was “The Death of Superman” in 1993. When DC Comics announced the new series, the mainstream news media went bananas that a cultural icon like Superman could come to an end after a half-century.
In that series, Doomsday kills Superman in an epic battle, the world mourns for the loss of their greatest champion, and other superheroes tries to take his place without much success.
In the follow-up series, “The Return of Superman,” Superman comes back from the dead, and his alter ego, Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, is found alive in the basement of a destroyed building.
Killing off Nancy Drew, a female character, to have the Hardy Boys, male characters, solve her murder runs into another comic book trope that has negative connotations for women.
It’s called fridging.
A female character, usually a girlfriend or wife, must die a gruesome, sexually explicit death to motivate the male character to avenge her. More often or not, the male character discovers her body inside in a fridge. The death of a woman to motivate the male character has become a cliche in Hollywood.
The writers for the movie, “Deadpool 2,” sparked a controversy by admitting that they were unaware of “fridging” when they wrote the scene that kills off Deadpool’s wife, Vanessa. After a gun battle inside their apartment, Vanessa dies from a stray bullet and Deadpool literally explodes to seek revenge on his enemies. Her death justifies all the mayhem that occurs in the rest of the movie. Without her death, the writers would have come up with a different, perhaps even an original, storyline.
Anthony Del Col, the writer for “The Death of Nancy Drew,” didn’t expect the backlash that took place after the announcement. He wants everyone to reserve judgment until the first issue hits newsstands next month.
I doubt he fixed the one glaring plot hole that has been Nancy Drew’s biggest weakness as a female character for the last 90 years. Whenever she’s in serious trouble, a responsible adult always comes along to bail her out at the last minute. No doubt that’s where the Hardy Boys comes in to rescue her from inside a fridge.