Callum Waterhouse ’18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Written By Hope Larson
Illustrated By Brittney Williams
Colors By Sarah Stern
Not sure what they are doing over at BOOM! Studios, but the people in charge should really get around to patenting it. Is it something they put in the drinking water, or is it just the fact that they are willing to hire fresh, young talent and give them the creative freedom to tell the stories they wish to tell? More likely the latter, as indicated by the recent development of their BOOM! Box imprint, but given what we have seen, it is not too soon to rule out sorcery.
The idea behind the imprint is to give comparatively young and unproven creators a chance to work on projects that would otherwise be considered too niche or “too out there” for publication. The new titles have yet to receive the attention and accolades that have gone to the big two superhero publishers, but the reaction of those who have been paying attention could be best summed up as, “They gave us exactly what we asked for and it was awesome.” Now why does that not happen more often?
The fact that the latest BOOM! Box miniseries, Goldie Vance, is quite good should not be at all surprising. It is a comic aimed at kids about a spunky, female teen detective who solves mysteries while competing in drag-races brought to you by the publisher that gave us The Lumberjanes. No one was expecting anything less.
The set-up of Goldie Vance should be immediately recognizable to anyone even slightly aware of the Nancy Drew franchise. Our hero, Marigold “Goldie” Vance, is a teenage girl living and working at the Florida resort hotel that her father manages. In her spare time, she helps the house detective, Walter Tooney, solve cases and proves to be every bit the equal of the adults around her etcetera…etcetera…you probably know the drill.
Writer Hope Larson does not so much put a new spin on an old formula as she does remind everyone why the formula became popular in the first place. Goldie Vance does not feel like a story you have never seen before, but a familiar formula executed flawlessly can be engaging none the less.
Part of the reason the comic manages to make these old tropes feel so relevant are Brittney Williams and Sarah Stern. Goldie Vance is set in a sort-of Cartoon Network version of 1960s America, where everyone drives a classic muscle car and issues of race never seem to come up. This mostly serves to let Williams indulge in stylized renditions of classic cars and sixties fashion, but her style imparts a timelessness to it all that renders the where and when a moot point.
Stern’s coloring also helps this comic stand out. In most pages, she opts to go for a heightened color palette that perfectly matches Williams cartoonish line-work and Larson’s energetic plotting. The end result feels like how a nostalgic ten-year-old would try to describe the 1960s. Several scenes in issue two, especially a visit to Goldie’s mother at the “Mermaid Club” are some of the strongest atmosphere pieces in recent memory.
Another reason why Goldie Vance works as well as it does is that Larson avoids falling into the same old traps that have been kneecapping this genre since the original Nancy Drew series. For example, Larson does an excellent job of making Goldie smart and resourceful without ever making her seem overqualified for a girl of her age and position in life. Watching her track down leads feels less like reading someone’s wish fulfillment and more like watching a real life teen in action. Another refreshing change of pace is that Larson avoids making Walter Tooey, Goldie’s adult partner and the real house detective, seem dim witted in order to build Goldie up as smarter. Tooey is a genuinely smart detective and his “by the book” approach to investigating makes him a nice foil to Goldie’s more cinematic teen sleuthing.
So far, the first two issues of the initial four part miniseries have been released. Issue one introduces us to Goldie and her world before launching right into the main mystery, a case involving a foreign guest and a missing necklace. While issue one plows straight into the mystery, issue two dials the action back a bit to further develop the setting and supporting players, of which there are many standouts. Both issues have plenty of funny moments and colorful set pieces, especially the above mentioned street race in issue one.
While Goldie Vance is halfway through its initially planned miniseries, BOOM! Box has already announced that the series will be made ongoing and this should come as no surprise. Goldie Vance is an exciting and enjoyable comic and we hope to continue reading it month after month for a long time to come.