While reorganizing my bookshelves ( a way to look like I’m busy- when in fact, it is fun to mess around with my collection), I moved my Nancy Drew collection to a higher shelf. As I pulled them down and read the spines something dawned on me- Nancy has all the qualities of a superhero. She wasn’t dropped into a vat of radioactive materials or anything. She is more like Batman.
Both are just ordinary humans. Both have keen analytic minds, they are both stealth- Nancy sometimes sits in rafters for hours waiting to overhear the criminals plot. Both live according to their own moral code. Batman will not take a human life, or see human life extinguished through inaction under any circumstances. Nancy is the same. In the book Captive Witness the villain Herr Gutterman shrieks,
“I’m not beaten yet….Now try and get away! he exclaimed. “You’ll kill me, if you do, and you’re too much of a lady to do that, aren’t you Miss Drew? …You’re moral code wouldn’t allow you to do something that might result in death or even bodily injury to another person, even to save your own life.”
Nancy is either a 16 or 18-year-old girl depending on what edition you are reading. Either way, she has an extensive list of accomplishments. Nancy is wealthy, attractive, and amazingly talented:
At sixteen she had studied psychology in school and was familiar with the power of suggestion and association.’ Nancy was a fine painter, spoke French, and had frequently run motor boats. She was a skilled driver who at sixteen ‘flashed into the garage with a skill born of long practice.’ The prodigy was a sure shot, an excellent swimmer, skillful oarsman, expert seamstress, gourmet cook, and a fine bridge player. Nancy brilliantly played tennis and golf, and rode like a cowboy. Nancy danced like Ginger Rogers and could administer first aid like the Mayo brothers.
Batman is right there with her. He has some amazing talents as well. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t date. Of course Nancy probably never got over anywhere near Gotham. Even if she did, she wouldn’t necessarily run into Bruce Wayne as he was in the bat cave most of the time. They both embody the spirit of the one man (woman) war on crime. Yes, there are police in both Gotham and River Heights. Commissioner Jim Gordon and Chief McGuinness just don’t seem to be on the same level of competency of Batman and Nancy. Honestly, the bad guys tied up with all the needed evidence ready for trial are just turned over to them. I’d venture to say that Jim Gordon is more proactive in using Batman’s talents, he doesn’t hesitate to send up the bat signal at a moments notice. Chief McGuinness doesn’t even realize that a crime has taken place most of the time.
Speaking of their home lives, Alfred the Butler and Hannah the housekeeper are two peas in a pod. They make sure that the bat suits and twin sets are pressed and ready to go. Both are excellent chefs and make sure there were clean sheets on the bed when the heroes return home after a long day of crime fighting.
Finally, I have to mention the authors. The Nancy Drew series was subbed out to any number of writers. The original series ran from 1930-2003. Batman has also had his share of authors and illustrators in his run from 1939 to the present. Both examples of great decades-long collaborations keeping a treasured character alive and in print.