Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Goldie Vance - a Mini Series by Boom Studios!

Nancy. Harriet. Veronica.  There's a new sleuth on the block!  Introducing...GOLDIE VANCE

The above tagline clearly refers to Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, and Veronica Mars, but it is definitely an apt comparison.  This comic book mini-series (turned into an ongoing series, thanks to the high sales and number of fan response) is all about teenage Goldie Vance, a young girl who works with her father at the Crossed Palms Resort in St. Pascal, Florida, where she spends her times parking cars and helping guests solve mysteries!

The series is written by Hope Larson and drawn beautifully by Brittney Williams.  While the comic is drawn very much in the style of the '60s and '70s cartoons, the story itself and the writing is far from cartoony.  Larson gives us a spunky teenager (whose actual age is never defined, but based on the fact she drives a car in the comic, one would guess that she is somewhere around sixteen years of age) who is determined to see herself (and prove herself!) as a detective for the hotel where her father works.  In fact, when readers are first introduced to Goldie, she has solved the mystery of a missing boy in the hotel (turns out he caught a ride in the housekeeper's cart and ended up in the laundry room).  Soon enough, though, she finds herself involved in a much greater mystery when a guest's jeweled necklace is stolen.  Only, everything is not exactly what it seems, for when Goldie recovers the necklace, they discovery it's owner is missing!

Just like every other teenage sleuth, Goldie has her own group of friends to help her along - the front desk clerk, Cher; the in-house detective, Walter; the young valet, Rob; and the record-store worker, Diane.  And, of course, she has her own nemesis in the form of "Sugar" Maple, daughter of the man who actually owns the hotel where Goldie and her father work.

Taking a cue from Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars, Goldie isn't afraid to step outside the lines of the law to find a clue.  From "borrowing" a guest's car to compete in a race to win back the stolen necklace, to breaking into the missing guest's car to see if there are any clues, Goldie will do whatever it takes - even if it costs her and her father their jobs (which, it does!).  That's not to say Goldie never plays it right.  When she is chasing one of the crooks and their car goes off the road, she immediately rushes down to help, even though it means someone else is able to snag the necklace.

Larson provides a really great build up for this mystery:  what exactly is the necklace, why do so many people want it, and what really did happen to Dieter Ludwig (the owner of the necklace)?  The only problem is, the ultimate payoff is a bit of a let-down and leaves you feeling like:  huh?  what just happened?  I won't give it away for those who want to read the series (and despite the ending of this first mystery, I would definitely recommend the series), but the ending comes totally out of left-field and honestly, it has no causal connection with anything else that has happened in the story thus far.  So, for those, like me, who search for clues throughout the story, expecting to find something that will lead you to the solution before the sleuth gets to it, don't expect to find it in this one,

As my friend Kevin suggested, this ending could have been altered when it was decided to make the series an ongoing title rather than a 4-issue mini-series.  That is a possibility, but I have a hard time swallowing that.  I guess we will have to wait and see what issue 5 and beyond hold in store and see where Larson takes Goldie and her friends after the ending in issue 4.  Hopefully, like the launches at the Kennedy Space Center (hint, hint), the only place to go is up!

Now, before I leave off, there is one more element to the story that should be mentioned, and that is the fact that it is plainly suggested that Goldie is a lesbian, or, at the very least, bi-sexual.  Goldie has a definite interest and affection for Diane, the clerk at the record store, who is portrayed as somewhat butch (in her jeans and jacket with the sleeves rolled up and her short, boyish haircut - in fact, she in some ways reminds me of the way George Fayne was sometimes drawn in the Nancy Drew series).  The reason I applaud Larson for this is not because she has given the gay community another comic character, but rather, Larson does not harp on it, nor does she make it any big issue; rather, Goldie's attraction to Diane is simply a part of the story that is no more hyped than Nancy Drew's interest in Ned Nickerson.  So, kudos to Larson for keeping it real!

Okay, okay, last note on these books, really, no honestly - just have to mention that I absolutely LOVE the cover designs.  With selected characters taking center stage on the front cover, while behind them in wraparound format is a scene (or a collage of scenes) highlighting some portion of the mystery in that issue.  Judging from previews of upcoming issues, they are keeping the format (yay!!!!), only changing the color to blue (which I'm hoping means that each mystery story arc will have it's own color to identify it).  And with that, I'm done!  (for now....)

RATING:  7 magnifying glasses out of 10 for a family friendly, teen sleuth mystery series in an ongoing comic format!

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