In Review: Scooby Apocalypse #4

The characters get a breather, but it's a detriment to the joys of the gang being chased.

The covers: Two covers to track down before they find you for this month’s issue. The Main cover is by Jim Lee and Alex Sinclair. It features the gang looking ready for action. Daphne is at the top of the illustration, scarf covering her mouth to protect from any nanobots that Velma’s group is responsible for and a big gun in her right hand. Moving down are Fred on the left and Shaggy on the right. Fred’s got a big gun, and his muscular shoulder shows just a bit of one of his tattoos, while Shaggy’s got his shades on as he’s chomping on a hoagie. At the bottom are Velma on the left and Scooby on the right. The doctor has a cell phone in her hand and the heroic dog looks as though he’s gone into alert mode given the emanations projecting from the tech he’s wearing. A good, but somber image. The Variant cover is by Denys Cowan, Klaus Janson, and Steve Buccellato. This has a gigantic head shot of Daphne. To her left is Shaggy holding a huge sub, Fred is just below her holding a gun ready, Velma (below and off to the right of Fred) is holding the remote for her drone, while Scooby is in the front, giving the reader a smile. This has some very angular artwork. None of the characters look great, with Fred and Scooby not shining. The colors are also very pale. This is just a mess. Overall grades: Main A- and Variant D

The story: This is the first breather the gang has had since they’ve gone into the open and encountered immeasurable creatures. They’ve parked the Mystery Machine outside a gas and food joint somewhere in the Nevada desert. Velma walks out of the establishment fearful because Daphne was supposed to be watching the van from the outside. She appears from the MM after the doctor calls her name. The broadcaster has found a high tech gun in the back of the vehicle, causing Velma to chastise her for leaving her post. Daphne tells her there was nothing to worry about because Scooby’s been standing guard. After bringing the reader up to speed with the events of previous issues, Velma goes into the Mystery Machine to go through the other tech, while Daphne says she’ll go into the store to see how the boys are doing. If only she knew that a vampire was nearby, watching everything. A fun five page action sequence follows with the monsters attacking and the gang escaping, making their way to parts unknown. It’s at this point that writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis have a new antagonist appear. His appearance made me jointly smile and groan. To omit this character would have been an error, and to include this character will create a negative reaction in many fans. I’m of the former, so I say, “Bring him and his allies on!” The issue ends with the gang in a different store that’s part of a familiar chain. There’s a funny bit with Shaggy and Scooby off panel, but there’s a two page sequence with Velma and Daphne that’s before this that went on too long. The last page has a good cliffhanger and has me hoping that there are more thrills next issue. Overall grade: B-

The art: The visuals of this book are by Howard Porter and they’re exceptional. Unfortunately the majority of the book is in conversations. There’s only so much Porter can do to make the art interesting, especially if Giffen is providing thumbnail layouts, as he’s done in the past. Every one of Porter’s panels is tremendously detailed. Take a look at the first page to see this outstanding artist in action — and nary a character in sight: the clouds, the signage, the vehicle, the banged up shop, and the fence and barrels in the foreground. When Velma enters in the first panel on the second page, she’s completely shown so the reader can recognize, but look at the setting, full of details that give the reader a feeling of dread. The glare on her glasses and Daphne’s googles is superb. Pages 2 – 4 are essentially two characters just standing and talking, but Porter moves the point of view around to keep things interesting, such as in the first panel in the third panel. The fifth page shows the vampires’ arrival from above and below the characters and their appearances would be at home in any modern day horror film. When they make their move on the heroes, it was good to see that a large panel is devoted to one of the leads taking a vampire down on 6. The result of Daphne’s weapon on a vamp is shown in the third panel on 7 and it’s both gross and hilarious. To take such a disturbing result and make it humorous is a credit to Porter’s artistic skills. Page 10 has this dead character make a prolonged return in the third and sixth panels; I would have loved for the story to linger a bit more at this location so that the transformation could be completely shown. A very unique designed vampire arrives on 8 and is taken out gloriously out on 9. 14 and 15 are the visual highlights of the book, considering who the leader of this ragtag group is. I groaned and howled at who this was and how he’s illustrated. The final page is a full page splash that shows two characters unknowingly in eminent dread, and I’m excited to see what Porter has the antagonists do. This book looks good. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Hi-Fi are coloring gods. Pairing this group with Porter is the equivalent of Batman and Superman teaming up. Look at the wonderful work on on the first page. The greens give the setting an uneasy feeling, which is exactly how the reader should feel on this book. The sky is lovely in blue, yet a pale blue is also used for the broken window in the lower right corner to draw the reader’s eyes to the damaged building. Orange is used to color Velma’s thoughts, which matches her iconic turtleneck. The work done on her massive glasses is beautiful. When Daphne’s thoughts begin they appear in violet to alert the reader to the switch in speakers. The colors switch again when a vampire’s thoughts begin. The coloring on the character that appears on 8 has a terrific color scheme, with pink and violet looking really sharp. The best colors are on 14, with the second panel being sumptuous with all the colors. The setting is essentially a post-holocaust the world, but the colors make it so darned pretty! What the world needs more of are colors by Hi-Fi. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The work of Nick Napolitano is shown through scene settings, the story’s title, the book’s credits, narration and dialogue (the same font), sounds, vampire narration, and the tease for next issue. I’m not thrilled when the same lettering is used for narration and dialogue. It should really be differentiated. However, the sounds are good, with my favorite being in the fifth panel on Page 9. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The characters get a breather, but it’s a detriment to the joys of the gang being chased. The visuals are top notch, though it limits how exciting the story can be. I’ll stick around for more, but I want chasing, not conversing. Overall grade: B+

To purchase a digital copy of this book go to https://www.readdcentertainment.com/Scooby-Apocalypse-2016-4/digital-comic/T1579000045001

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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