We all know who The Hardy Boys are — they are a pair of fictional teenage brothers who (like Archie Andrews) never grow old, however, instead of just hanging around some Chok’lit Shoppe they have chosen to walk the path of Sherlock Holmes and become a pair of amateur detectives. The boys live in the town of Bayport with their mom and dad — Laura & Fenton Hardy (dad is a Detective) and their Aunt Gertrude. Frank is the elder brother and is a year older than Joe (and likes to constantly remind him of that). The characters were created in 1926 and have remained not only in print, but popular ever since.
Most recently, they have been revived once more, this time in a series of graphic novels published by Papercutz with (once again) a number of “slight” alterations so as to make the boys’ adventures attractive to yet another new generation of readers. Aunt Gertrude has become “Trudy”, their mom has been given a career as a librarian, and their dad is now semi-retired. In their latest incarnation (circa 2005), the boys are members of an organization known as American Teens Against Crime (ATAC), that regularly assigns them to help out on cases. In their various adventures, they are sometimes aided by a number of their their friends including Chet Morton, Phil Cohen, Biff Hooper, Jerry Gilroy, and Tony Prito, and, less frequently, by their platonic “girlfriends” Callie Shaw and Iola Morton (Chet’s sister).
In this new series, the boys appear to be more akin to regular kids who tend to have quite a number of exciting adventures. In the first Papercutz book (penned by Comicbook luminary Gerry Conway and Paulo Henrique.) Conway is best known for his work on Spider-Man (he followed Stan Lee & Roy Thomas on the title, and is credited for “killing” Gwen Stacy, Spidey’s long-time girlfriend, as well as for his work on the TV series Law & Order). In this first book Gerry has Frank & Joe going up against a trio of thieves who have utilized a special chemical compound mixed into theater make-up to change a flash-mob of teens into appearing as a zombie attack in order to cover-up and distract the authorities form their criminal activities.
Having never really been a big fan of The Hardy Boys — save peripherally — (but having been a huge fan of both Conway’s comic and L&O work) this writer has to say that this book was an exceptional piece of work (we were surprised that a minor character was actually killed in the course of the story, something that we don’t ordinarily see in comics — especially ones targeted for a younger audience — but perhaps that is just Conway falling back on his roots (remember poor Gwen). Still the book read well, and was entertaining throughout. We especially liked the addition of zombies, flash-mobs, and technology throughout the story to make the characters’ adventures more relevant to today’s audience.
Further, Henrique’s “Manga”-style art was well suited for the new format and positioning of the characters. His, clean easy style made the books both thrilling and fun to read, giving the comic a thoroughly modern-look to them which will presumably be attractive to a new generation of fans who will continue to keep the Hardy Boys in the limelight for years to come. In addition to the new line of Hardy Boys graphic novels, Papercutz also publishes a new line of novels about the new adventures of Nancy Drew who has long been linked to the Hardy Boys as excellent reading material for younger readers.