Writer: Stefan Petrucha & Sarah Kinney
Artists: Sho Murase, Carlos Jose Guzman(CGI and color)
The long awaited sequel to Ghost in the Machinery outshines the opener with a mystery that ramps up the excitement through a runaway bullet train.
Nancy, Ned and the cousins Bess and George accompany the magnetic tank that was recovered last volume. Petrucha and Kinney put together another fairplay mystery that works in stand-alone format as well as in the greater context. There's still a Big Bad to be found.
Somebody has sabotaged a high tech bullet train, but that somebody works for another. Readers however can be assured that Nancy Drew will tease out the clues and find out who wanted to steal the magnetic train. This volume we'll have to be content with her solving of the case caused by the Big Bad's flunkie.
As well as relating a perplexing puzzle, Petrucha and Kinney elegantly characterize the River Heights denizens, which includes Deirdre, Nancy's and George's rival, for comedy relief and added complication. They add another intriguing fact to the myths. Deirdre's father doesn't like Nancy one bit. They also do something I really didn't think possible. They make Ned likeable.
Petrucha and Kinney's Ned Nickerson is a revelation. They discard his period patronizing attitude, which grated on me something fierce when reading the original books. They make him brave and strong as well as intelligent and trusting of Nancy.
Petrucha's and Kinney's George also is notable. George reacts badly to Deirdre. This leads to some choice dialogue and conflict. George likes Deirdre the least. She treats her like a rash. George's series-specific computer skills also come in handy as well as that traditional tomboy attitude that made her almost archetypal. Bess doesn't have much to do this issue, but her absence would have been conspicuous, and she lends to a gang's all here feeling.
Sho Murase is more than just an arch designer of manga--a genre let me assure you I still loath. Her distinctive approach creates unique camera work that serves the needs of a mystery and creates an artistic consistency in the positioning of the players. Given the ramped up threat, Murase also takes advantage of the opportunity to imagine more action-oriented panels. The scene with Nancy on top of the train is a nail biter.
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