(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)
The Hanna-Barbera cartoon classic is re-imagined for a new generation in SCOOBY APOCALYPSE VOL. 1! When the world is tossed into chaos, it’s up to a group of meddling kids –Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their dog, Scooby-Doo– to solve the mystery and survive hordes of zombies! But can they save the day and cure everyone or will they become brain-eating zombies? The creatures of the night are among us, and the crew of the Mystery Machine has to fight to survive–because in the apocalyptic badlands of the near-future, the horrors are real! (DC Comics)
I was fully ready to channel my inner child and dive into this book with that frame of reference in mind. That’s not a slight on Scooby Doo, as I do the same thing when reading or watching Batman 66. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a certain headspace to get the full enjoymentof a property and there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides who wouldn’t want to mentally go back in their headspace and read this with child like wide eyed wonder? To quote George Takei; “Oh My” was I pleasantly surprised with what this story gave us. When the description says re-imagined, it’s 100% accurate, specifically where tone is concerned. This had more in common with a Robert Kirkman comic book instead of a Saturday morning cartoon. Sure the cartoon features our five some running from and battling monstrous creatures, but given its nature as a kid’s show, you really don’t get a sense of their fears or their desperation in the moments where they look to be overwhelmed by the monsters. In the cartoon, it’s always covered up or glossed over by humor. Again, this is totally understandable because it was geared towards children. With this book, you really sense their fear and the fact that the crew gets overwhelmed by this monster/zombie apocalypse. For example, the first time Daphne kills a monster, she has what equates to a nervous breakdown because she realizes that these monsters were once human beings with families. There’s also Velma, who wrestles with the role she played in this monster/zombie apocalypse. At first she somewhat places blame on her employers but as the story progresses, she realizes the role she played and suddenly has the weight and burden of that responsibility on her shoulders. These types of reactions are more adult and true to what the reaction to a monster apocalypse would inspire.
Fret not, despite the reimagining, the core essential elements and traits of the characters are intact. Velma is the brains of the group, with a particular fetish for science. For Daphne Blake, Keith Giffen an J.M. DeMatteis references both A Pup Named Scooby Doo and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island by having Daphne be from a family of wealth, as well as being a TV reporter. The book does have Daphne under attack by monsters a lot; however, she’s no damsel in distress here. She’s the most badass warrior/gunslinger on the team. At times she’s almost a Rambo with boobs. Fred Is Daphne’s cameraman and best friend, who is also obsessively in love with her. He definitely takes the lead at times but also finds himself getting hurt or knocked unconscious in the strangest of ways. All the attributes that featured in the characters traits in the various interpretations are present here. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are stuck together like glue. Scooby is still clumsy, still loves to eat, especially pizza, still has a speech impediment and manages to always come through and save the day, even if unknowingly. He’s the lovable Great Dane he’s always been. Shaggy also has a certain type of speech, specifically using a lot of filler words. He’s also a food junkie and also has a love for pizza. The character is aloof, but seemingly smarter in this iteration of the story. Shaggy always treats Scooby like an equal, while at first the other characters are more dismissive of Scooby, before eventually treating him like an equal.
What’s unique about this book is that the Scooby gang are not teens. They’re in their mid 20’s to early 30’s. You’d think we’d get even more history between the characters. Instead, the story goes in a different direction. What we have here is the first ever meeting between our five main characters. They are all brought together by a monster/zombie attack. The monster zombie outbreak, as I mentioned before was in part caused by Velma. The company Velma works for “The Complex”, infected humanity with a techno virus via nanites. The original intent was to weed out humanity’s baser instincts like greed, hate and violence, then reprogramming humanity to live in a more peacefully way. However, it is revealed that Velma’s employers, who happen to be her brothers, double crossed her and altered the nanites. The result is that a portion of humans have been turned into zombified monsters, in the form of aliens, werewolves, vampires and mummy’s. I loved that this book used classic monsters for this zombie outbreak. Although, how or why the humans manifested into these particular monsters wasn’t explained well at all. The way it was eluded to, it seems that either Velma was clairvoyant and foresaw this change or, that her brothers based these monsters off of their sister’s nightmares. I hope this is cleared up over the course of the second half of this story. One thing that is explained well, is the reasoning behind Scooby Doo’s ability to speak and why he has a speech impediment. Scooby Doo was the first dog in the Smart Dog program, an initiative that saw The Complex implant computer chips in him, to stimulate the language centers of the brain. These chips would also enhance the dogs’ protective instinct and killer instinct to have the dogs help and assist the U.S. military at home and abroad. However, Scooby doesn’t take 100% to the procedure and his verbal skills hardly advanced past that of a toddler. This is essentially the Christopher Nolan/Batman Begins explanation of Scooby-Doo and I love it!
Howard Porter is the artist of record on this book. I’ve had exposure to his work for years, as he’s been an artist for both Justice League and The Flash. The characters have gone through a slight redesign, but overall remain very true to their animated counterparts. Scooby, Velma and Fred look virtually unchanged, while Shaggy and Daphne have undergone some slight hairstyle and wardrobe changes, but in these cases there’s always a nod to their past, be it in color of clothing or whatnot. The character do seem built in more superheroic proportions. That could be in part because of the artists style, as well as the fact that the characters have grown up, no longer being in high school. Scooby Doo looks adorable and cuddly most of the book, but when he is protecting Scooby and or Velma, he looks epically fierce in growling mode. I also love that the monsters have the classic, mummy, devil, vampire and werewolf look. These characters are timeless. They are the Batman and Superman of genre. They can be done and redone and no one would ever get sick of them. My favourite images of the book are the Monsters hovering over the Scooby gang, while they are below them and totally unaware, or when the Mystery machine is attacked by the monsters and a “battle for your life shootout” begins.
No matter what, on some level, I knew I’d like this book. I had no idea I’d love it as much as I did. It’s respectful to the past, while reinvigorating these characters and this world. Truth be told, in some instances it tells a better zombie story then The Walking Dead comic book does. I know, that’s a controversial statement but it’s my review and I can say what I want and express how I feel. This book ended with a cliff-hanger, so I can’t wait to see how the story concludes. I also can’t wait to see what DC’s new take on The Flintstones is like. Of course, that is also a book I will be reviewing for you guys.