Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on November 18, 2020 @ 2:44 pm CT
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that in the next season of The CW's Nancy Drew series there would be an episode featuring Tom Swift that would serve as a “backdoor pilot” for a proposed spinoff series that would follow the “serialized adventures of the billionaire inventor who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father”. Oh, and this time he would be black and gay.
Given the success the network has had with its “Arrow-verse'' and “Archieverse” series it’s not surprising The CW would want to try and jumpstart a "Drew-niverse". However, they trying to start one with the Tom Swift character. He may very well be an iconic character, but because he hasn’t been adapted into movies, TV, and comics (like Dynamite’s Nancy Drew: The Death of Nancy Drew series, the final issue of which shipped last week) he hasn’t been embedded into popular culture the same way Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys are.
One problem with The CW doing a media franchise-shared universe featuring characters who, like Nancy Drew, appeared in adventure book series published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate is, after you do Tom and The Hardy Boys, there aren’t a lot of characters to choose from. Most of their early book series was based on what was then bleeding-edge technology like planes (Ted Scott Flying Stories), trains. (Ralph of the Railroad), and automobiles (Motor Boys).
After Tom Swift, the Bobbsey Twins have the most brand name recognition, and I have no doubt The CW could turn the exceedingly mild small town adventures of a pair of fraternal twins into a sweaty soap. After all, look what they did to Riverdale! Then there’s, boy explorer Don Sturdy, the self-explanatory Christopher Cool, Teen Agent, and of course Bomba the Jungle Boy, who briefly had his own DC comic back in the 60s. And if The CW isn’t interested in spinning any of these off into TV shows, I’d really like to see Dynamite Entertainment adapt the properties into comics.
If you missed the news that Tom Swift is now (potentially) black and gay, it’s understandable; the story didn’t get nearly as much media attention as you would expect. In fact, as far as I can tell so far, there hasn’t been any notable online commentary on it. It's likely due to the fact it’s happening to Tom Swift. If this was, say Joe Hardy, I’m guessing a lot of people would have something to say about that.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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