By JM Dematteis, Keith Giffen, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, Alex Sinclair, Jim Lee
The New 52 may be over, but we haven’t seen the last of it with this “fresh” spin on the Scooby Doo mythos…
Jim Lee loves Scooby Doo. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but then again I love Scooby Doo as well. It was one of the first cartoons I remember watching, along with Loony Tunes and Hanna Barbara reruns. It’s still going, it’s had multiple iterations with guest stars and wacky gimmicks, but it has continued this long by sticking to its formula of five friends going out and solving mysteries. Deviations from that, involving catching ghosts or annoying sidekicks, tend to be short-lived and remembered with spite. It’s hard to tell if this series will live on in infamy or obscurity.
The book isn’t bad exactly, in fact it maintains and tweaks the character dynamics in such a way that it does feel somewhat fresh. Velma and Daphne are more assertive and more confident, Scooby is more independent of Shaggy and breaks free of his mold at times. For the most part, they’re the characters I remember fondly growing up as I changed and they didn’t but that was why they could be revamped over and over again. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
For good or ill, this team did decide to shake things up and set the series in a futuristic world on the brink of collapse from apathy, pollution and secret technological conspiracies. Then introduce actual monsters on top of all that. After so many, many takes following a set formula I do sometimes wish for a new spin on the classics. However, after I see them I get buyer’s remorse and promptly wish them away. They quite simply don’t work most of the time and I’m split if that applies here or not. It’s different, but is it that different from the live-action films, Zombie Island, or Cyber Chase?
Velma acts more like a mad scientist acting out of self-preservation, Fred is the love lorn puppy following the domineering career woman who won’t settle for anything less than what she thinks is right, Shaggy just wants to have a good time and Scooby is a failed military experiment. The advertisements promise this is Scooby Doo for a new generation, but if that generation has five different cartoons of the same name that means this series is for old fans who want something more from a childhood memory. I used the New 52 analogy because it feels very apt, the New 52 wasn’t entirely bad but had many, many more faults than successes.
The writers (Dematteis and Giffen) switch between a cartoonish exaggeration of what the future might look like and the heartwarming tone of a cartoon for children, while Howard Porter delivers solid and interesting visuals trying to visualize the tone the writers are going for. It’s the two sides rubbing against each other that gives me this feeling like its a bad experiment that I kind of want to see what happens next even though I know what will happen.
Scooby Apocalypse #1 is the first issue of a conflicting series, where it tries to be a faithful reinvention of a cartoon classic and a series set in the vein of New 52 aesthetic. I have mixed feelings about it but I’m interested enough to read the next issue. As long as the writers can maintain the fresh character dynamics and sell me on this crazy premise playing in the background, I could see this becoming an inoffensive addition to the Scooby Doo mythos.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent