As a whole, “Goldie Vance” #2 is an utterly charming all-ages read. Brittney Williams and Hope Larson’s girl detective story is as bright and gentle in its second issue as in the first. Goldie has plenty on her plate: she’s tracking down the missing Mr. Ludwig, matchmaking for her friends and making time for her mother. Nonetheless, the creative team imbues all these scenes with the same spirit. Williams’ playful character designs and Sarah Stern’s sunny pastels create a retro wonderland of a setting, and Larson writes lively, likeable characters who will win the reader over. Though it can be formulaic at points, “Goldie Vance” #2 is a pleasure.
Williams’ artwork is, in a word, adorable. The Crossed Palms Resort is peopled with wide-eyed, animated characters who move with cheery purpose. The jaunty, delightfully retro outfits just add to the joy. Goldie’s dad rocks a pink shirt and plaid blazer; Rob sports a checkerboard shirt; Sugar Maple, newly introduced in this issue, shows up dressed like Princess Peach in a Grand Prix. They’re so fun that it feels more like fantasy than a period piece.
Williams also captures the characters’ emotions with simple, super readable expressions that are ideal for younger readers and invite readers of any age into the characters’ lives. The body language and action scenes have similar clarity, making each panel a relatively effortless read. Occasionally, I wished Williams better matched the scope of a panel to the intimacy or importance of a story moment, but these missteps were few and far between.
Meanwhile, Stern’s sunny, soft colors call to mind guidebook-cover, postcard-ready images of south Florida. Mint and peach backgrounds, pastel clothes, goldenrod headbands and colorful local business signs abound. Stern carefully balances the cartoonishness so that Goldie’s world never feels too obnoxious or busy. Instead, it’s a rosy delight.
As far as the plot, Larson slows the mystery’s already leisurely pace in this issue. She spends more time on the personal aspects of the story: developing Goldie’s first crush, moving Cheryl and Rob’s relationship forward and introducing Goldie’s mom. Goldie doesn’t get much further in her pursuit of the missing Mr. Ludwig and the mystery of the necklace. Instead, the reader is introduced to more of Goldie’s social circle as she follows a few dead-end leads. Since so much of the charm of “Goldie Vance” is in its world, I quite enjoyed that aspect of this issue. Readers who were hoping for more of a “Nancy Drew” vibe might find it slower going, though.
For me, the only thing that keeps “Goldie Vance” enjoyable rather than exceptional is its formulaic tendency. The characters are relatively stock, and few of the plot developments are unexpected or surprising. For many readers, this may actually be part of the appeal — a nod to all-ages classics — but I’d love to see one or two twists or unexpected character moments in upcoming issues.
“Goldie Vance” #2 is another enjoyable issue in a winsome, wonderful miniseries. I hope it finds the audience it deserves.