Sunday, September 7, 2014

On the Shelf: A long awaited team-up comes a'cropper

A little history lesson to start things off, pilgrims.

Ever since Scooby-Doo changed networks from CBS to ABC in 1976, and after the Super Friends franchise was reactivated the following year, you'd have to imagine that fans of both franchises were hoping the two would meet. After all, it was Scooby who helped set the wheels in motion, if you will, with Batman & Robin guesting in 2 episodes of the New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972.

It never happened, however, until now. Unfortunately, that's about all the positive that can be said about it.

In the latest issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Scooby and the gang are summoned to the Hall of Justice, which means the Dynamic Duo will make their 4th appearance out of 6 issues, while Wonder Woman makes it 2 in a row, after appearing in issue 5. The plot: Superman has disappeared, and the Hall is supposedly haunted. The "rainbow ghosts" on the cover are a call-back to a Scooby-Doo episode from his early days, but they're a cover for the Legion of Doom. Oh, how clever. Any fan worth their salt can figure out the rest fairly quickly.

Where writer Sholly Fisch fails is in taking a minor little shortcut. Robin explains what supposedly happened to Wendy & Marvin, at least in this context, but their signature outfits end up with Velma & Shaggy. As for the Wonder Twins? No go on them, either, but spare costumes, with convienently available wigs, were given to Fred & Daphne. Oh, what a rip-off. I've always envisioned Scooby & Shaggy getting freaked out by the Twins' shape-shifting powers, only to have Jayna pour on the charm to win them over. I get that it's a 1-&-done, but Fisch did a disservice not only to the target audience, but to fans of both franchises. Suffice it to say, had this been left in the hands of a more capable writer, such as Jeff Parker (Batman '66), maybe it works out a little bit better. If it's true fan-service you're looking for maybe issue 7, out in November, will help. In that one, Scooby and friends take a trip way back in time to meet Hanna-Barbera's 1st icons of the 60's, The Flintstones.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up 6 gets a D.

Dynamite Entertainment is known for taking liberties with licensed properties. I stopped reading the current Doc Savage book because writer Chris Roberson insists on moving the series forward in time with each succeeding issue. That's not how it's supposed to work. Dynamite, as previously reported, signed on Howard Chaykin to do a new Shadow miniseries, set in the 50's. Not my cup of tea.

So now, they bring in Lester Dent's other creation, Richard Henry Benson, aka The Avenger, to team with Doc & the Shadow in the 6-issue Justice Inc. miniseries. Justice Inc. was first published under that title in comics by DC in the 70's, with the inestimable Jack Kirby doing the first issue. A subsequent late-80's miniseries, by Kyle Baker, didn't exactly break cash registers. What Dynamite intends to do is explain how Benson became the pale-skinned Avenger in a manner that I don't think fits his true origins, although it does have to do with the death of his family. I've got reservations about this one, given the time travel angle. The rating, therefore, is incomplete.

No comments: