BY PATRICK TEDDER
Finally, we can get rid of that annoying hyphen. Am I right, folks? Scooby-Doo!, now just Scooby, has gotten a makeover, and the good news for fans is that it’s kind of fun and has promise.
“Shaggy” Rogers is now a tattooed hipster who is no longer the butt of jokes; Fred, now Daphne’s sidekick, has become a muscular, not-too-bright cameraman. Daphne, the former vixen of Mystery Inc., is an intrepid TV reporter. Velma is a scientist with a cold personality who looks more or less the same, and Scooby is a genetically enhanced wunderdog, which finally solves the age old mystery of why our favorite canine can talk.
While most of the redesigns in both visual structure and character personality work, I couldn’t help but be underwhelmed by Fred and to a certain extent Velma. Fred’s personality or lack thereof makes it hard to accept the complete universe recreation, drawing attention to the “is this enough factor” for a reimagined universe. Velma, still brainy, is too cold to be any fun as of yet. Her dialogue is mean spirited, especially when directed at Shaggy. It’s interesting and sort of refreshing to see Daphne in a more intelligent and empowered role as she’s not vying for Fred’s constant affection, but Shaggy and Scooby still steal the show, and the comic feels as though it’s most interested in these two stars.
The overwrought plot chugs forward at an incredibly slow pace as we are reintroduced to our beloved characters. It does help ease us into the new Scooby universe, however; it would have been nice if DC comics could have done so in a more visual way. Dialogue drives the story and action on every page, making it all the more noticeable that writers are having to entice readers to the big “why?”
In the process, the few jokes that are present are hit and miss. This is a more adult Scooby-Doo! with practically all silliness removed. While I appreciate the concept of a story that goes beyond shenanigans while trying to figure out “who done it?”, but it will be important for this reimagining to remember its roots in order to stay interesting.
The explanation for what “Apocalypse” means is sort of clever, if not entirely effective in convincing us as to why there needed to be a reimagining of the Scooby Doo! cannon. Still, the plot, like the new development of each character, is a promising indication of where DC wants to take the series.
With so many misses from DC of late, both in a PR and creative standpoint, this new take might be one of their most interesting. Scooby-Doo! hasn’t exactly seen a lot of changes to its core concept since the cartoon’s inception. Where the property has gone in the right direction is when it has been fearless in concept: partnering with the WWE, Kiss etc. As such, the wilder this property is willing to get, the more fun the fans are in store for. How DC will handle this will be a mystery.
If you are a Scooby-Doo fan, you owe it to yourself to pick this comic up and try it. If you’re not a fan or don’t know anything about Scooby-Doo, it might still be worth your time as this could be a new and long lasting comic for DC.
TMNT – BEBOP & ROCKSTEADY DESTROY EVERYTHING
Your favorite bad guys of the Ninja Turtle universe kick off their own series with tons of time travel shenanigans just in time for the corresponding “Out of the Shadows” film that has hit theaters.
First, I have to give props to the title. It’s clever and fun in a way the comic sometimes manages to be. The regular cover art is also incredibly slapdash and zany, showing the famous pig and rhino team soaring in the air while Leonardo rides a mummy and Michelangelo rides a painting of the Mona Lisa.
The story is neither here nor there. Whenever time travel is involved, even the best writers can falter. Since this is a Turtle comic, there’s wiggle room to play fast and loose, because at the end of the day, a title that includes the phrase “Destroy Everything” shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
The fun that I want to have with this series is dampened by how the comic really tries to tackle time travel in earnest, using a great deal of dialogue either through the characters or through Donatello, the narrator. The narration is also inconsistent. On one page Donatello is telling us some of the most basic things a turtle fan could know–like his name–and the next he is absent until the end of the comic, leaving us in between where he might be helpful.
Thankfully, with so much dialogue, a portion of it lands with some pretty solid jokes throughout the issue. It’s also not inaccessible. While I have read a lot of IDW’s Turtle IP, I had gotten behind and couldn’t tell you what’s happened recently. For the most part, this issue welcomes readers without slowing its madcap pace.
Last but not least, the art backs up this frenetic storytelling. It’s kind of ugly, but in a trippy slapstick way. It’s colorful and has a hurried detail to it that suits its story well.
Is it worth a read? If you are a TMNT fan, yes! This even applies if you’ve been out of the comic game for some time. If you just saw the new movie and want to see more of your favorite heroes, sure, go for it! The comic could certainly welcome new folks in an easier way, but this is the first issue and I’m sure everyone will settle in. If you haven’t seen the new movie and don’t know anything about the turtles? Probably not. There’s nothing here that’s so original as to pick up this comic.
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS – PINK
Boom Studios! has brought the Power Rangers back in what has been to date, a well-crafted and entertaining comic that welcomes folks into the Power Rangers universe while also giving fans mighty amounts of nostalgia. Given the success, the studio is testing the waters with a spinoff comic focusing on the original Pink Ranger.
Issue 1 of 6 starts with Kimberly Ann Hart as she realizes all is not right when she can’t get ahold of her mom. Within the first page, she has decided that she’s going to take action, quickly moving the story along. In the process, we find out that Kim is no longer an official Pink Ranger and that she’s trying to move along with her life, but someone, or something keeps pulling her back in.
Having Kim being in retirement is an interesting change. It allows for lots of self-narration that doesn’t feel forced, because like us, Kim is trying to figure herself out now that she’s no longer a part of the Morphin squad.
It’s too bad that such a strong female character has to narrate and say such stupid things: “
‘That’s right. I make this look goooood. Eat your heart out Mad Max.’ ‘The horror movie-ness of this whole thing is just so not cool.’” Yeah, I know, the dialogue was never better in the original kid’s TV show, but when it’s just Kim for an entire comic, her valley girl quips are even sillier without partners to make them sound sort of normal in the quip-continuum.
The actual mystery of everything is alright and pretty much revealed by the end of the comic. Kim learns that she has to make an important choice and due to some sweet McGuffin, we don’t have to suffer through a series where Kim doesn’t turn into the Pink Ranger.
Everything else about this comic is a success. The art is in line with what Boom Studios! has been producing. It’s colorful, well drawn, and easy on the eyes. It complements the story telling rather than ever getting in the way or overshadowing it.
As any fan of comics, we should all be happy they started with the Pink Ranger. It’s incredibly satisfying to have a strong female character kick off this spin-off experiment. Providing there’s enough content for six issues, it should open doors for the rest of the rangers to have their own tale in the future.
Pick up this comic if you’ve ever liked The Power Rangers. If you didn’t get caught up for the main Ranger’s comic, this is a great substitute that won’t destroy wallets at a six issue run. If you don’t know anything about the Power Rangers, give it a try! We need to support female led comics in every way that we can. This comic will ease you into things and while there’s nothing revolutionary going on, you might find yourself liking the universe.