The Hardy Boys: The New Case Files, #1: Crawling with Zombies
written by Gerry Conway
illustrated by Paulo Henrique
The Hardy Boys were created in 1927 and have been popular with readers ever since, but it’s taken the comic book form to really bring the classic duo of Joe and Frank Hardy to new life.
In Crawling with Zombies, the boys get caught up in a mystery revolving a possible wave of the undead. Well, not really. When one hears the word “zombie,” a supernatural story is more or less expected. However, there is a scientific explanation given here, so this remains very much in the real world. While the explanation given might be a little farfetched, it still fits within a children’s comic like this.
Joe and Frank are given a case that involves “Zombie Crawls,” which are get-togethers where people dress up as zombies, kind of like Halloween. It’s set up online, so people attending might not know the person who invited them. The problem arises when some of the people dressed as zombies report that they lose control over themselves and seem to be manipulated by an outside force. One girl is almost hit by a car and killed when she can’t control herself. It’s up to the Hardy Boys to get to the bottom of this.
This is an American graphic novel, and it looks American, but various manga influences are quite evident in the art. For instance, sometimes the characters will have one giant sweat drop in their hair, a classic symbol in manga and anime. With the updating of the Hardy Boys, it’s also gotten technologically slick. Characters talk about Twitter and use computers and video games to get the information they need. This is not your grandparents’ Hardy Boys.
Crawling with Zombies is a pretty easy and fast-paced read, which ought to make it popular for children. It could also be a good way to help children read, including reluctant readers. This isn’t for beginners, but for kids who already have a grasp on the basics of reading. Though it’s about zombies, none of the pictures are scary, just sometimes gruesome. One character gets killed and, perhaps because the book doesn’t aim to frighten kids, the characters around remain calm and don’t seem particularly upset by it. It’s quickly wrapped up. There is some violence, albeit not that much. The creative problem-solving is interesting, and only part of the mystery is solved by the end of the book. Readers will have to pick up the next one to learn the full truth about what happened.