Sunday, November 24, 2013

On the Shelf: Some old friends get together

41 years ago, on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the titular dog and his friends met Batman & Robin in 2 episodes, which, of course, led to Hanna-Barbera going all-out with a license from DC for Super Friends, which lasted 13 years total. With Batman & Scooby now under the same corporate roof, the producers of Batman: The Brave & The Bold brought the two teams back together for a 1-shot mini-segment several months back. All of that was for television. Now, for the first time in print, the two teams meet again.

DC finally realized they had a potential gold mine on their hands, since they've been publishing Scooby's adventures for the last 16 years, and launched Scooby-Doo Team-Up, a bi-monthly miniseries that may in fact be just for the benefit of celebrating the first meetings of Mystery Inc. & the Dynamic Duo. We know it's a miniseries since DC acknowledges it themselves on the promo page, the back page of the first issue. Instead of fighting the Joker & the Penguin again, as they did three times on TV, Scooby-Doo & the Caped Crusaders take on Man-Bat and a trio of enterprising thieves hoping to capitalize on the mutant's spree of violence. Sholly Fisch's script captures the spirit of the original 1972 cartoons perfectly. We don't know how many issues will be issued in all, but one must hope they can finally let Scooby interact with other denizens of the DC Universe.

Rating: A.

Dynamite, earlier this year, rebooted June Tarpe Mills' Miss Fury as a time-hopping rip-off of Catwoman. Now, they've come up with another clone of the Princess of Plunder. The Black Sparrow, making her Dynamite debut in the first issue of Noir, is meant to be to The Shadow what Catwoman is to Batman, a part-time adversary who has feelings for her nemesis. However, the script for this issue, while attempting to establish the Sparrow, does the Shadow a disservice. Fury only shows up on the last page to set up the next issue, even though she was headlined on the cover. Bait & switch doesn't always work, and it's time Dynamite's editors woke up to that fact.

Rating: C+.  Nice art, lame script.

The WWE's history with comic books has been, to be fair, checkered.

In the early 90's, when they were still the World Wrestling Federation, they entered a licensing agreement with Valiant Comics during that company's first go-round. The resulting series, WWF Battlemania, lasted 5 issues, and some of the stories were reissued in Golden Books-style mini-books for younger readers.

A few years later, during the Attitude Era, the company joined up with Chaos! Comics. The body of work was a little more substantial. To wit:

The Rock & Mankind each merited 1-shot specials. Chyna got 2. Stone Cold Steve Austin starred in a 4-issue miniseries. The Undertaker was the clear favorite of the publisher, as he was given an ongoing series that lasted a total of 14 issues (0-12 & an issue #1/2 published in conjunction with Wizard: The Guide To Comics) before the two companies ended their agreement.

Just a couple of years ago, Titan Comics of England published a 3-issue WWE Comics miniseries that I don't believe made it to American shops. Now, they're trying again, this time with an American publisher.

Papercutz, which specializes in licensed titles (i.e. Geronimo Stilton), will launch an all-new WWE book, debuting in stores December 11. The hook, in addition to using some of the same wrestlers that populated the last series, is that it's written by Mick Foley (aka Mankind, Cactus Jack, & Dude Love), who has become a prolific, best-selling author since signing with the promotion 17 years ago. Foley's also written some children's books featuring WWE characters, at least one or two of them drawn by Jill Thompson of Scary Godmother fame. Previews, the comics industry's phone book sized monthly catalogue, produced by Diamond Comics Distributors, may be taking rush orders on the first issue, since it may have slipped right through the cracks the first time. Like, with Foley writing, it can't be worse than the drivel they're producing for TV now. Can it? We'll find out soon enough.

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