Review: Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 1

Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 1 Written by Sholly Fisch Art by Dario Brizuela DC Comics; $12.99 One of the most surprisingly entertaining kids comics that either of the Big Two direct market publishers have managed in a long time, Scooby-Doo Team-Up has managed to pull off the rare (but always appreciated) trick of addressing child readers [...]

Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 1
Written by Sholly Fisch
Art by Dario Brizuela
DC Comics; $12.99

One of the most surprisingly entertaining kids comics that either of the Big Two direct market publishers have managed in a long time, Scooby-Doo Team-Up has managed to pull off the rare (but always appreciated) trick of addressing child readers and adult readers simultaneously, with sharp, smart franchise-specific jokes and allusions for the grown-ups…in addition to the heaping helping of nostalgia the bi-monthly comic book series serves up.

That nostalgia is actually built into the book’s DNA, inspired as it was by the 1972-74 cartoon series The New Scooby-Doo Movies, in which Scooby and the gang would team up with other cartoon characters and the cartoon avatars of early-70s celebrities. Each issue of the comic follows the same format, and all of those collected in this volume, which are pulled from the first six issues of the series, feature DC superheroes…albeit from sometimes specific incarnations.

The first three issues feature teamings of Scooby with cover boys Batman and Robin (who appeared in a pair of episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies), a perfectly natural fit of franchises that writer Sholly Fisch and artist Dario Brizuela do a rather extraordinary job of blending and melding further still. Fisch hones in on the similarities between the protagonists—crime-fighting, detective work—and highlights the differences, while finding new paths with which to further explore those similarities and differences. Brizuela, meanwhile, is able to incorporate Batman, Robin and their rogues gallery (plus some rather unexpected DC Comics character cameos) into the basic Scooby-Doo style, so that they all seem to belong together.

In these issues, the Dynamic Duo and Mystery Inc. face-off against Man-Bat and some Man-Bat impersonators, The Scarecrow, and, in their craziest adventure, Bat-Mite and Scooby-Mite. They get some unexpected help along the way from Ace The Bat-Hound and The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City.

In the back half of the book, the team-ups get more unexpected, with Scooby and the gang visiting the Teen Titans Go! version of Titans Tower to help the manic, chibi version of the characters (in a pair of shorter stories, just as each episode of Teen Titans Go! features two mini-episodes); an original interpretation of the Wonder Woman of the comics, blending elements of the Golden Age and 1960s-70s versions; and, finally, the Justice League from the Super Friends cartoon (complete with nods to Wendy and Marvin and The Wonder Twins).

Of these, only the Teen Titans issue provides a gulf in style—visual as well as narrative—that proves too wide for the infinitely flexible Fisch and Brizuela to bridge. There’s just no way to finesse either the Scooby-Doo or Teen Titans Go! character designs enough to make them seem to belong in the same cartoon—or the comic book based on two cartoons, I guess—without breaking the strictures of their original designs. Given the wild, anarchic, even absurdist nature of the Teen Titans Go! show, the issue works perfectly fine as a Teen Titans Go story, but it doesn’t really work as a Scooby-Doo story.

Similar stylistic challenges will arise in future issues of the series, when Scooby-Doo teams up with The Flinstones and The Jetsons, but this collection is a thematically tight one teaming Scooby and his cast with various DC superheroes, usually to combat various DC supervillains. It proves a pretty perfect introduction to those characters, and is thus a pretty ideal starting point into the DC Universe of comics characters, regardless of one’s previous experience with them.

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