For decades, young and impressionable women across the world have been inspired by the brains and bravado of celebrity teenage sleuth Nancy Drew, a passionate detective as well as feminist since the 1930s.
However, as the titular character turns 90, Dynamite Entertainment has come out with an odd way to honour the her - by killing Nancy and having her male counterparts, the Hardy Boys, investigate the death.
The predecessors of Nancy by the same creator, Hardy Boys served as the inspiration for Nancy Drew, their female counterpart who in time went on to become the more resonant and popular of the two series. Since her inception, both their universes have developed independent of influences from each other. Both the novel series are published by the same publishers, Simon and Schuster under the pen names of Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene.
While Nancy and the Hardy Boys often have crossovers in comic series as well as novels and are known to regular readers as frequent collaborators and friends, the latest plot twist sends a bit of a depressing message to fans - that even Nancy Drew, the ultra-smart and daring young woman who has solved hundreds of crimes and gotten out of myriad mysterious situations, would finally fall, only for two boy detectives to come and solve the potential mystery of her death.
Not that the Hardy Boys are in any way offensive. In fact, they are an important part of one of the the most popular genres with young and adolescent readers - whodunits and mysteries- and their stories are engaging as well as delightful to read. But the fact they the two have to come the rescue of Nancy is a little off-key with the image of Nancy over the years, especially on an occasion meant to celebrate her anniversary.
Millions of little girls including myself started reading Nancy Drew and got sucked into the cult of the swanky and smart detective who did not need the help of anyone, was independent and smart and not afraid to assert herself and her demands. She was not just another overtly sexualised or diminished female character that only existed to add diversity to the script and foreshadow the actions of the male leads.
Killing her off and having a couple of boy detectives solve Nancy Drew's death, therefore, may not be the best way to celebrate the teenager who has empowered so many with confidence to not cow down to sexism. Of course, there could be plot-twists. Nancy's death could end up being a hoax and she may prevail still, saving the Hardy Boys' necks when the time came. Or not. The little girl in me can only hope.