Current Reviews


Nancy Drew Vol 11: Monkey Wrench Blues

Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2007
By: Ray Tate

Writers: Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney
Artists: Sho Murase and Carlos Jose Guzman
Publisher: Papercutz

Gender originally didn’t play a part in owning a car. Money did. The first women drivers were well-to-do. Cars eventually became cheaper, and women drivers became common. During World War I for instance women were frequently called upon to drive ambulances. After that period, a lull seemed to occur, and men predominantly sat behind the wheels.

Nancy Drew tooling around in a roadster was one of the ways that Mildred Wirt Benson strove to make her independent and feminist before the word feminism was coined. Nowadays we take women driving cars for granted, but at one time this was a brand of freedom.

Petrucha and Kinney in this story boost Nancy Drew onto the tracks of Shirley Muldowney and Dana Patrick. At the behest of Roy Hinkley, Nancy enters a race for a government contract. Her car is a product of the magnetic tank from previous stories. As usual, you needn’t have read those chapters to enjoy this stand-alone mystery, which also wraps up the threads in a continuing puzzle.

You may argue that Nancy Drew being a race car driver stretches things, but Petrucha and Kinney anticipate the arguments, and lets face it, Nancy looks absolutely cool in the cockpit. She radiates confidence, and when she drops the hammer, she becomes even more determined. Her competitive nature directs her toward mysteries, and it’s easy to imagine her hooked up on racing.

Bess gets some face time-or rather boot time. Petrucha and Kinney extend her instinctive mechanical skills to even the experimental. She serves as Nancy’s passenger and mechanic. Petrucha and Kinney ingeniously come up with a way that she can make an impact on the story by working the body of the vehicle. In some ways Bess’ and Nancy’s roles echo those seen in a particular episode of Speed Racer where Sparky accompanies Speed on a grueling race.

George gets to be Nancy’s operative this issue, and she also provides humor upon encountering a watchdog. The other racers drive vehicles that are based on real life alternative fuel proposals-that includes the French fry run car, and Petrucha and Kinney display not just Nancy’s heroism but also that of some of the drivers.

Sho Murase and Guzman exhibit remarkable adeptness when illustrating racing cars, racing angles, uniforms and the language of speed. Nancy’s uniform and helmet do not impede Murase’s expression in the Girl Detective's countenance or body language. Guzman highlights the shine of Nancy Drew’s vivid blue eyes to draw the reader’s attention to Murase’s ability to go through emotional gears.

Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney rev up the formula to Nancy Drew. Sho Murase and colorist Guzman serve in the pit crew to tune the artwork for a thrilling race.

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