Last week our group review took on Future Quest and so it was only fitting that we’re back with Scooby Apocalypse! Is it great, is it better than great? Or is it a turd waiting to be flushed? Find out as our participating reviews give their take on what’s sure to be a comic with several variant covers… most of which are illustrated by veteran artist Jim Lee. [su_quote]Comic Bastards’ synopsis of Scooby Apocalypse #1: From Jim Lee’s brain to your hands. Find out what happens when DC attempts something in the vein of Afterlife with Archie minus the focus on story. Oh and hipsters… lots of hipsters. Pretty sure Jim Lee doesn’t actually know what a hipster is.[/su_quote]
The adult-themed origin story of how the group assembled is the product of the fan theory that Scooby’s world is a post-apocalyptic earth. While I got the premise of the book, I felt only moderately entertained by the execution. For instance, I chuckled when Scooby belted out a “Ruck” after being offered vegan pizza. Those understanding of Scooby’s speech impediment will clearly get the implied expletive.
Some elements left me nonplussed. For instance, I’m sure there could have been some good gimmicks to come from the emotive headgear that allowed some of Scooby’s thoughts to appear like tiny picture bubbles. And why did the book rely so heavily on vast amounts of dialogue to carry the story along?
The modern-day versions of the characters did have some good thought behind them—by visually and conceptually. Shaggy’s hipster image and his dog-training persona fit well into the contemporary reflections of society. And the nanite creations seem to be the scientific panacea for some many plot elements.
There are a lot of things that are interesting and some that aren’t—and that leaves a reader with a meh feeling. For that reason, I must defer to a real middle-of-the-road score on this one. Nothing really made me want to put the book down, but nothing impressed me.
I was going to troll this group review hard and just absolutely gush about how fucking good this book was and that this is who you do it and way to go DC. Then I read who was writing it and I was like, “this book is never going to shut the fuck up.” In fact, as I write this I’m pretty sure that it’s still out there talking somewhere. Just in an endless circle of dialogue that manages to be both exposition and vague at the same time.
I don’t know what it is about comic writers, but when they hit a certain age, let’s say “golden”, it’s like they can’t stop themselves from over writing. Not only does every character talk way too much and you could realistically trim 3/4’s of the word bubbles and tell the same story, but none of it serves to add any characterization. What’s worse is that the story doesn’t even rely on your previous knowledge of these characters to help in that characterization.
The art is good minus the fact that every hipster has been in the gym for their entire life. The story sucks a lot and there’s nothing believable about the dialogue. If someone talked for five minutes straight telling you the craziest shit you’ve ever heard in your life and you didn’t stop them and tell them to shut the fuck up, you’d probably find yourself at a comic panel for this very comic and that’s the only reasonable excuse for letting ever character rant and not have the other characters interject in a believable way.
There's quite a bit wrong with 'Scooby Apocalypse' and I think the line that best sums it all up is "He's with 24602--the one we call Scooby Doo'. It's a line that is a painfully on the nose nod to the larger franchise which manages to be awkward, over-serious, and a little nonsensical (I mean, why is he even called Scooby Doo?). Unlike last week's much better Future Quest, there doesn't seem to be a lot of direction or purpose to Scooby Apocalypse (which would more accurately be called Ultimate Scooby Doo as it's formula is right out of Marvel's recently defunct else-worlds line).
Yeah, Velma is a corrupt scientist, Fred and Velma are reporters, Scooby is a science dog, and Shaggy is an oddly handsome hippy dog trainer, but there's no compelling reason why we need such a radically different, mostly dull retelling. The magic of the equally dumb on paper 'Afterlife with Archie' was taking a story of innocence and watching it crumble, but Scooby Apocalypse at best gives a few mild laughs and action beats that don't do much for me as a one-time watcher of the cartoon and even less for me as fan of comics.
Also, as a final note, I don't quite understand what's going on with the art in this issue. It's not bad, in a stylized, DC house style sort of way, but every panel is a nearly identically composed shot of the characters talking. It gets so dull and repetitive that I found myself longing for something that would be harder to follow if it would just mean breaking the monotony.
Simply put, as a 'Scooby Doo' fan, it's so insulting it almost comes back around to being funny. The 'extreme' update of the characters (not yet a gang in this universe) are so vicious, unpleasant, and contemptuous of each other and people in general you'd think you were reading mid-2000s Mark Millar. Ever wanted a Scooby Doo property where Daphne compares Velma to Hitler? 'Scooby Apocalypse' everyone!
The art is professional, but designed in a horribly dated way, which I guess is supposed to be... intentional? The script, despite its jackassery, seems to take itself painfully seriously, making the ironic 90's throwback art... not ironic? Or is it all supposed to be ironic? And if so, who really wants a book so cynical and joyless that it thinks that this sneering parody would be entertaining? The closest comparison I can think of is the mean spirited but utterly magical 'Archie Vs. Predator', only without the unexpectedly gratuitous gore and with 90% more paragraphs worth of exposition word bubbles.
But like I said, this book is so crass, ugly, and ill-conceived that it actually does become funny in spite of itself. I'm not going to claim any disappointment here, I already cringed it out from the cover when it was first announced. I will say however I was genuinely surprised by how awful it was, a spectacular landmark in Scooby's library that overshadows any recent projects that come to mind. Don't exchange a cent for this book, but find a good play-by-play review if you can find one online, so you can enjoy the fetid treats in this book from a safe, financially ethical, distance.
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Writers: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis Artist: Howard Porter Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/25/16 Format: Print/Digital