In Review: Scooby Apocalypse #1

This is the setup, next month the monster hunting begins.

The covers: The gang’s back in action, but not in the way you’d expect in this reboot of Scooby-Doo into Scooby Apocalypse. The Regular cover is by the character designer, Jim Lee, with colors by Alex Sinclair. This cover has the gang in a tunnel, unaware that a monster looms high in the ceiling. Scooby’s in the front sporting an attachment that allows the canine to communicate with emojis. Velma’s right behind him wearing larger than normal glasses, operating a remote for a drone that’s flying next to the title character. Shaggy is next, screaming in shock for spotting the camouflaged creature. Daphne is to his right looking ready to do some action with a futuristic rifle. Behind her is Fred who has two massive sized pistols. Monsters and tech combine quite nicely. The coloring is really good from Sinclair: the muted rose used for the cave allows the bright colors of the characters to pop off the page. The first Variant is from Howard Porter and Hi-Fi, the interior artist and colorist of this book. This has the dynamic doggie running away from a monstrous spider. Scooby looks as though he’s going to run out of the illustration and into the reader. He’s got computer projected eyebrows and his emotigoggles that allow him to communicate with emojis. The spider is a pretty creepy creature and the setting is full of webs and dripping goo. The coloring is spot on, since the brown dog stands out against the violets and greens. The Dan Panosian Variant has Shaggy looking elatedly into the distance accompanied by his faithful pooch. They’re standing on a pile of skulls and the background is apocalyptic red, so the jovial look of the two characters is somewhat dampened by the serious setting. Still, Shaggy looks so happy on this cover that it’s infectious. The Neal Adams and Alex Sinclair Variant has Fred going Ghostbusters: he’s got a device in his hands that he’s using to suck up a toothy terror. Fred’s extremely buff as he’s given the iconic Adams’s hero build. But look over your shoulder, Fred! There’s another monster behind you emerging next to that Gothic tree. Coloring on this, again, really makes the character pop. Joelle Jones and Nick Filardi also do a variant and this one focuses on Daphne. In a graveyard at night, Daphne stands before a weeping angel grave. The tombstones next to her have been knocked over and pile of leaves are at her feet. A nice drawing, but it’s hard not to think of Buffy Summers looking at this. The final variant is by Ben Caldwell and it’s very different. A drone hovers above the book’s logo, and from the angle of the artwork the mechanical device looks like a spider. Velma is below on a off-white cover listening for something on a headset. Before her are two skulls. The art is great and the coloring makes this a real stand out. This is a cover I’m going to have to hunt down. Overall grades: Regular A+, Porter Variant A, Panosian Variant A, Adams Variant A-, Jones Variant B+, and Caldwell Variant A+

The story: “Paris, one year ago…” Dr. Velma Dinkley is looking down on the city and says that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so “I’m going to do something to save every last one of you — and this planet you’re destroying.” She opens a small metal container and releases florescent green dust to the streets below. She then adds, “I hope.” The scene then moves to Daphne Blake, the host of a mysterious mysteries show, and her cameraman Fred Jones are arguing about looking for an informant so that their show can go back to the top of the ratings and leave the 4 A.M. slot on The Knitting Channel. As they take off into the crowd, another pair spot them — Shaggy and Scooby. The dog trainer has taken the dog out of the Complex for a walk, though he shouldn’t have, and the dog is playing silent because he’s not wearing his emotigoggles. Shaggy caves and puts them on the pooch who perks up once he’s able to have the little bubbles containing pictures appear next to his head. Naturally he wants to eat and Shaggy is more then willing to oblige. This issue is establishing how these versions of the iconic characters are similar and different to their past personas. Fred is a lot clumsier and jumpier than he’s been portrayed before, while Daphne is a no-nonsense driven woman. Velma is a super scientist who wants to expose the world to the truth, but the first page shows she might be responsible for this monstrous apocalypse. Shaggy is Shaggy and Scoob is Scoob; why change perfection? Reading Scooby’s dialogue is as fun as it is to hear on television. Keith Giffen is responsible for the plot and J.M. DeMatteis does “dialogue & more dialogue”. There are some pretty fun jokes, beginning with the second panel on Page 8 that had me laugh out loud. I’m holding the writers of this book responsible for actually having such creatures appear in a future issue. The sequence on 19 ends with a great visual gag, and the final page had me giggling and anxious for more. There’s also a six page back-up story by the same pair titled “When Shaggy Met Scooby!” that does exactly what it says. Set three years in the past, the dog trainer is on his first day of work, has a brief encounter with a soon-to-be friend as well as the lovable dog. It’s the oldest writing trick in the book to have a man bond with a dog and it’s done here and works flawlessly. It was impossible not to smile at Scooby’s dialogue in the final panel. A good beginning to a hopefully long run. Once the gang goes monster hunting things will go into high gear. Overall grade: A-

The art: Artist Howard Porter does the pencils and inks from Giffen’s breakdowns and they wonderfully capture the charm of the cartoon while adding an excellent tech bent to the situation. The characters are still recognizable to their cartoon counterparts, but their outfits have been slightly changed to make them more modern and a little futuristic, with Velma’s glasses becoming googles, Daphne and Fred wearing utility belts that would be envy of Bruce Wayne, Shaggy looking like a hipster, and Scooby with his emotigoggles. Porter really distinguished himself with the incredible art on Justice League 3000 and he continues to create hyperdetailed visuals on this book. The full paged splash on Page 2 is full of amazing characters, including a Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, and wonderful set pieces for this Burning Man Festival. The emojis that constantly circle Scooby’s head are amazing and must be a nightmare to constantly put on the page. When one character falls unconscious, another slaps the individual awake, creating some great cartoon stars that dance around that person’s head until she comes to her senses. When Scooby meets Fred and Daphne for the first time it’s thrilling to look at it: this is not the frightened hound one is used to seeing, but a loyal animal defending a friend. When the characters enter the Complex, the setting is amazing. It’s as detailed as a Hollywood film set, if not better than most. The Safe Zone is really impressive from its perspective and what lies in it. The big moment is the final page when the characters that the reader has been waiting for finally appear. When on Justice League 3000, Porter created some outstanding aliens. Based on this page, he’s going to work just as much magic on this book. The back-up story is also illustrated by Porter and given how he renders the dog on the defensive, he makes Scooby instantly sympathetic. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Hi-Fi was the colorist on JL3000 and it’s good to see this group reunited with Porter’s visuals. It truly is a match made in heaven. Look at the wonderful greens on the first page that create a sense of magic and unease simultaneously. The garish colors of the festival are amazing, especially with all the lighted objects that appear like pictures more so than art. The light blues used for Scooby’s emojis give them a computer flavor and also a whimsical touch. The characters’ classic coloring remains the same and has them stand out on every page, especially when then enter the Complex, which has the classic antiseptic coloring of a research facility. The final page of the main story is gorgeous in orange, yellow, and green. Though I’d never desire it in real life, I hope that Hi-Fi gets to do a lot more with fire in this series because of the outstanding way it’s done on the final page. The back-up tale is colored by Hi-Fi as well, and it, too, looks great. The other animals look doubly ferocious because of the colors of their eyes and the sounds that issue from them are pretty creepy in those colors. One can never go wrong with a book colored by Hi-Fi. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The main story is lettered by Nick J Nap, who creates scene settings, dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, a transmission, yells, sounds, and the tease of next issue. Considering how much dialogue has to be inserted in some panels (Just take a look at all that Velma has to say to get the premise going!), Nap expertly places it without covering important elements that Porter has created. Need an example? Go to Page 15. If he could comment, Scooby-Doo would say, “Woof! Rats a rot!” He also does a particularly sweet job on the alarm that goes off on Pages 19 – 21. Travis Lanham is the letterer on the back-up and he does a great job — those “bad” dogs sound terrifying! Overall grade: A

The final line: This is the setup, next month the monster hunting begins. If you enjoyed Justice League 3000, this is one you’ll want to pick up. If you’re a fan of Scooby-Doo you’ll see that even in a different place and time the gang will get together to save the day. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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