This review is based off a volume that collects Scooby Apocalypse #1-6
Like many children born in the 1980s, I became well acquainted with Hanna-Barbera cartoons while eating sugar-filled cereals on Saturday mornings. Now, three decades later, my dietary habits haven’t changed much and I’m here reading Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1, one of several properties from the legendary animation studio to be recently reimagined by DC.
Before we proceed any further, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: DC is in no way changing Scooby-Doo canon or saying this is the new status quo. Simply put, this is what happens when a handful of creators love a specific set of characters and want to do something fun and different involving them. In fact, DC still publishes comics based on the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons we all know, so please cut the “they ruined my childhood” nonsense.
Although the project somewhat sprung from the mind of Jim Lee, I’m not sure if it would have been as successful of an endeavor if not for having Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis steering the ship as it were. It’s their experience as storytellers compounded with their signature brand of irreverent humor that allow a tale that may not otherwise have been able to work, to flourish.
Completing the Justice League 3001 reunion is veteran artist Howard Porter, who brings his distinct visual style along with him, creating an experience that is simultaneously wondrous, fantastical and, at times, downright horrific.
When it comes to the ensemble on the page, the gang we grew up adoring is all here, together again for the first time: Velma, a vertically challenged scientist intimately familiar with Project Elysium who may know more about what’s going on than she’s letting on; Fred and Daphne, basic cable mystery hunters with a dysfunctional friendship; Shaggy, a “hipster doofus” whom happens to work as a dog trainer at Velma’s facility; and, of course, Scooby-Doo, the first and not so successful attempt at creating a smart dog for the military.
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Speaking of Project Elysium, a small cadre of scientists’ (“The Four”) plan to pacify the world’s population, goes horribly awry (or does it?) as pretty much every living human being becomes infected by nanites, mutating them into grotesque creatures. What follows is what I can only describe as Scooby-Doo meets Resident Evil. Okay, there aren’t any zombies to speak of, but that classic survival horror formula is strongly felt.
As opposed to being a group of meddling kids thwarting the plans of corrupt real estate developers, the cast could more so be described as an eclectic ragtag group pulled together by extreme circumstances as the story stretches on. Their interpersonal dynamics may differ from what was seen in the classic cartoon series, but it’s compelling and stunningly human nonetheless.
The only interactions that wore thin on me were those shared by Velma and Daphne. You see, the latter remains highly suspicious of the former and has no problem voicing her displeasure – constantly. Granted, I do understand her position, but their arguments feel repetitive and circular before long.
Very briefly, I’d like to mention the Mystery Machine since it’s one of the most iconic vehicles in the history of animation. As you can imagine, that too has been reinterpreted from being a simple hippy van to being a badass armored truck capable of surviving Mad Max type scenarios. Consider it to be a mobile “safe room,” if we’re to continue using the Resident Evil motif.
Admittedly, the humans hog the spotlight for the most part, but Scooby’s a scene stealer when he does enjoy some focus. The charm he’s known for is retained, and he displays much courage whenever he fearlessly takes down a variety of monstrosities. The little nods to the TV series are pretty amusing as well, particularly the page where everyone shouted their respective catchphrases. I think Fred’s “Let’s split up!” was the one that made me grin the most.
I should also mention that although it might seem like an odd time to take a break from the storyline in progress, the final chapter included in this trade paperback explores Velma’s tragic background and is worthy of a standing ovation. Furthermore, it reveals the truth about “The Four” and their relation to her.
Should you pick up Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1 – and you should – it’s important to realize that you truly are reading only the first part in a grand tale. Really, this in no way functions as a standalone. But the creative team has assured this critic sticks around to see how things turn out. If you too love a riveting comic book, it’s recommended you follow my lead.
Scooby Apocalypse could have easily been a disaster if it were placed in the wrong hands, yet it became one of the better oddball comics you'll find on shelves today.