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Any person who was a child at some point in the last five decades has seen the adventures of a dog named Scooby-Doo and the members of Mystery Inc. Scooby-Doo, with his various series featuring both real and fake ghosts, is a cultural icon that almost every person on the face of the planet can identify with ease. That’s why I’m surprised DC hasn’t made a “serious” re-imagining of the story before now. The premise of the new series Scooby Apocalypse is that there is a nanobot plague that is changing the world unless “the gang” can stop it. It takes until the last page of issue one for the premise to come to the foreground, with much of the issue setting everything up, almost dragging the story in the process.
Scooby Apocalypse writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis focus on the differences from the show in this debut issue. Daphne has a late night cable show called Daphne Blake’s Mysterious Mysteries, utilizing Fred as her cameraman. They used to be prime-time, but are no longer for mysterious reasons that will possibly be touched upon in further issues. Velma is a scientist at a complex where Shaggy works as a dog trainer for a military Smart Dog project of which Scooby is the original prototype. Advance artwork for the series show the Mystery Machine to be an APC (Armored Personal Carrier), which considering the darker tone the comic is setting up, makes me excited to see how and when that is utilized.
The issue does a great job with Shaggy and Scooby, setting up their new dynamic with a back up feature showing their first meeting three years prior to the main series. There’s a comfort knowing that these two characters are almost unchanged in how they interact and behave, as opposed to the other three being changed in a significant enough capacity that they have to be re-established. My favorite new addition for the series is a device for Scooby called the Emotigoggles, which allow his emotions to be transmitted in open air as symbols or faces. Placed around his head and right eye, the goggles show not only Scooby’s emotions, but his raw thought process as well. If he thinks of pizza, a pizza in a balloon will float from the goggles, if he’s scared, a worried-looking emoticon floats by.
Aside from Scooby and Shaggy’s interactions, almost every other character interaction seem mostly forced and inorganic. Velma contacts Daphne to tell her about a secret project in the complex where she works. But why go to a disgraced and demoted Gonzo Journalist, other than for sake of bringing the characters together? The project, named Elysium, is a mind-controlling nanobot virus that somehow changes humanity, and on the last page we see how that manifests; with monsters. The problem with the nanobots is how they change a human into a monster within a matter of seconds. There’s no explanation for how they do this within the narrative. It just happens. I’m not a huge fan of things happening because the author says so, there needs to be at least some rational explanation for it.
Despite the few issues I had with characterizations and plot, the art from DC artist Howard Porter was perfect for the book. His sense of movement and body positioning for Scooby was terrific. We only got a small glance at how his monsters will look as the series goes, but just the one page looked phenomenal. To be honest, I think this is his best work to date. The color by Hi-Fi in the issue works well paired with Porter’s pencils and inks, bringing a vibrancy to the world. Its almost obnoxiously bright, but just one step back from the point of annoyance. At the end of the day, we’re talking about Scooby-Doo and what is Scooby without the zany villians, bright colors, and paper thin plot?
Despite a few storytelling peculiarities and railroading the plot, Scooby Apocalypse succeeds as a re-imagining of the classic Mystery Inc. gang. It ultimately earns a respectable 7 out of 10.