Written by Hope Larson
Illustrated by Brittney Williams
Colored by Sara Stern
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Volume 1 (collecting issues #1-4) is available now
Volume 2 (collecting issues #5-8) is available now
All issues available digitally via Comixology
Published by BOOM! Box (BOOM! Entertainment, Inc.)
If you miss Veronica Mars and are itching for a bit of Nancy Drew – without feeling like you’re reading one of your grandma’s dusty old books – grab the first two volumes of Goldie Vance. Each book collects a complete four-issue story and both are worth a look.
At its core, Goldie is a girl detective book. The magical part is that it wonderfully blends mystery, action and sweetness without going overboard. It also harkens back to an earlier era without feeling outdated while maintaining a bit that era’s sweetness.
Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives with her father in Crossed Palms, a resort hotel in St. Pascal, Florida. Why he’s trying to keep his job as the resort’s manager, 16-year-old Goldie believes she can solve any mystery, solving her own mini cases, eventually convincing the local detective to let her help with his case.
While the book is mostly about the namesake, Goldie, she also relies on a few friends: best friend Cheryl, the actual detective Walter, glamour beatnik Diane and Goldie’s mom.
The books are set in the 1960s so there are a few nods to events from the decade and just enough stylized art that you’d expect Gidget to wander through a scene without feeling out of place.
In the first volume, a nerdly resort guest with a thick German accent kicks off the mystery, meeting with Walter to help recover a stolen necklace. Perky Goldie just happens to be in the room, embedding herself to help solve the case.
It takes her into a street race á la Grease (convenient seeing as she is a valet for the resort), at odds with the resort owner’s daughter, jumping out a window and face-to-face with a pair of shady characters. All ’60s movie tropes are here, keeping things comfy: soda shop, car over a cliff, beatniks hanging out at record shops, foreign bad guys, etc.
The second book picks up the mystery gang on the beach, tying in a few ideas teased in earlier chapters beginning with a girl in what appears to be an astronaut’s suit crashed down or washed up on shore. The story meanders a bit more this time around, but eventually picks up in pace when things start to come into light.
Things get a bit more sci-fi by final chapter, adding a little spin to the typical space race theme.
GET A GLANCE OF VANCE
As you might imagine, with a strong – even if perky – female main character, there is a fair amount of gender bending with Goldie racing a kicking some butt, beating boys at their own game and just playing action detective.
There are also some nudges toward multi-culturalism and a hint of a possible budding lesbian relationship, although neither are pushed it into preachy-town. Instead, it sticks to its windy mystery story, taking some breaks to delve into high schoolish concerns.
The art style is very fluid, swoopy and cute, feeling a bit like a bubblier Archie (the old version, not the thinner, grittier new age Archie) with some big-eyed Disney-ness mixed in. There are periodic pokes at manga effects and expressions but they are pretty small and usually don’t break the overall theme.
The series is a great read for just about anyone, especially those of us looking for less violent stories for our kids. It also peppers in bits of action to not only help things along but bring back interest before it begins to go on too long with character development.
These books look great, read fairly well and, even when the cases are solved, give you cause to revisit the Crossed Palms resort with Goldie and the gang.