Review: ‘Scooby-Doo 50th Anniversary Giant #1’ and ‘Scooby-Doo Team-Up #50’
On September 13th of 1969 CBS’s new Saturday morning line-up debuted a brand-new cartoon about a cowardly, gluttonous great dane and four mystery-solving teenagers, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? That makes this year Scooby and the gang’s fiftieth anniversary, and DC Comics, which has been publishing various Scooby comics continuously since 1997, would be remiss if they didn’t do something to celebrate.
They did so in a pair of recent special comics: Scooby-Doo 50th Anniversary Giant #1 and Scooby-Doo Team-Up #50.
The first of these is a Scooby-Doo themed version of the publisher’s recent “100-page giant” format, which began life as a handful of Walmart-exclusive comics, and have just recently started to appear in comic shops as well. Generally, these giants have been focused on attracting new readers, taking the form of anthologies featuring a single brand-new story and a bunch of reprints, for the mind-bogglingly low price of $4.99 (Considering that most DC and Marvel super-comics cost $3.99 or $4.99 for about 20 pages, that’s obviously quite the deal).
The Scooby-Doo Giant is a little different in that it features nine stories, a third of which are brand-new and original to this book. That, and they all feature Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma and Fred, of course; DC’s other giants were organized around particular groups of different superheroes, like, for example, the Batman family or Superman family.
Of the new stories, two of them directly address Scooby’s anniversary. The first, “Snack Attacked!” by writer Ivan Cohen and artist Dario Brizuela, features the gang investigating a mystery at Scooby Snacks headquarters. Just as the company that produces Scooby’s (and Shaggy’s) favorite snacks is preparing to release an all-new Golden Scooby Snack to celebrate “the fiftieth anniversary of the world’s best-loved treat,” monsters begin stealing ingredients and sabotaging the roll-out. It turns out to be an elaborate ruse to surprise Scooby, who is going to be the spokesdog of the special edition treat.
The second, “Now You See Them” by writer Sholly Fisch and Brizuela again, has a similar twist ending. While the gang disappear one by one, each of them seemingly abducted by the sorts of individuals the gang spend all their time being antagonized by and antagonizing—a monster, a creepy lighthouse keeper, a real estate developer and a smuggler—and leaving Scooby all alone. At least until they jump out and shout “Surprise!” and present him with his birthday cake (See, they had to organize a birthday party for Scooby, but it’s not easy since he’s always around them; it doesn’t make any less sense than any of the overly-complicated plans of the villains they regularly face).
After that, cartoonist Scott Gross has the gang try to solve the mystery of a weight-lifting giant that has begun haunting Silver’s Gym, and scaring away potential participants in the gym’s annual competion. The remaining stories are culled from the pages of 2014-2017 issues of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, and feature mysteries set at a monster movie convention, a catering hall, Coney Island, the pyramids of Egypt and their local public library, plus there’s a relatively rare mystery-free story, set in and around Shaggy and Scoob’s house.
The work of writers Fisch, John Rozum, Embla Malmenlid and Paul Kupperberg, artists Scott Jeralds, Robert Pope, Fabio Laguna, Leo Batic, Scott McCrae and Horacio Ottolini and writer/artist Neely, these short stories all stick extremely close to the basic formula and style of the original cartoon, so much so that the reprint of a 2004 story, in which the kids are wearing the slightly-less dated costumes they wore in What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (That is, no ascot on Fred and no scarf on Daphne) is a noticeable deviation, as is every instance of pose or gesture that didn’t appear in the original cartoons.
There’s nothing terribly vital here for a discerning comics fan of any age, really. The stories’ short lengths and the fact that the creators have to come up with monsters that haven’t already been use during decades of cartoons and assorted media spin-offs means that even the more compelling aspects of those first few seasons of the Scooby-Doo cartoons don’t carry forth into the comics. Although, like reruns of those same cartoons, they contain a somewhat mysterious basic appeal that keeps generation after generation of kids paying attention.
More interesting and exciting by far is Scooby-Doo Team-Up #50, written by Fisch and drawn by Jeralds. The premise of the series, which has always been written by Fisch and more often than not drawn by Brizuela, was basically a comic book answer to the 1972 New Scooby-Doo Movies cartoon, wherein Scooby and friends would team-up with either the stars of other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, or animated versions of real celebrities voicing themselves. And so for the previous 49 issues, Scooby-Doo Team-Up has featured guest-stars from throughout the DC Universe of superheroes, with seemingly no character too obscure to appear, and a wide range of other classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters
For this one, they team-up once more with Batman, who was in the first three issues of this series (and two episodes of the New Scooby-Doo Movies).
The occasion for this team-up is not just to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Scooby-Doo, but also the 80th anniversary of Batman…and the fiftieth issue of the series (which, sadly, is the final issue of what has long been DC’s best kids comic…and one of it’s better comics period).
The self-appointed masters of ceremony are Bat-Mite, the Fifth Dimensional magical imp and Batman’s biggest fan, and Scooby-Mite, the Fifth Dimensional magical imp and Scooby’s biggest fan, introduced by Fisch and Brizuela in the third issue of the series.
The particular lure they use to bring the Mystery Inc gang to Gotham City is the strange appearance of multiple alternate versions of Batman from other, past Batman comics. In addition to a Golden Age Batman, for example, there are appearances by a vampire Batman, a Pirate Batman, the Batman who fought Jack The Ripper in Gotham By Gaslight and so on. Most of these seem to be cut-and-pasted directly from their original comics and plopped down into the art by Jeralds, making them particularly striking.
When Scooby-Mite starts throwing in a vampire Scooby, a steam punk Scooby and a knight Scooby, the ensuing chaos has Robin wishing for a Batman team-up with the “old-school” Mystery Inc gang, which leads to the imps summoning every version of the Scooby Gang ever, and asking, “Which old-school Mystery, Inc team would you prefer?”
So suddenly it’s not just a team-up with Dynamic Duo and Scooby-Doo and the gang, but the gangs from (deep breath) 1985’s The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, 1988’s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, the 2002 and 2004 live-action Scooby-Doo feature films starring Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze Jr and company, 2006′s Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, 2010’s Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc, 2014’s Be Cool, Scooby-Doo and even DC’s own 2016-2019 Rated T-for-Teen Scooby Apocalypse comics series. Whew!
If there’s a more ideal way to celebrate fifty years of Scooby-Doo cartoons in a 20-page comic book than including (almost) every different iteration of the characters from fifty years worth of cartoons (and a couple of non-cartoon media adaptations), I can’t imagine what it is.
And that’s just one of the multiple surprises in the issue, as the Mites then have all of these characters team up to fight a giant Scrappy-Doo (and all the other Scrappy-Doos), only to unmask the ringleader of the Scrappys-Doo and find yet another surprise, one that speaks to the eternal appeal of the original Scooby-Doo concept and the way that, no matter how the concept may be changed, tweaked and even radically reimagined over the years, it always eventually snaps back to its “true” shape.
It makes a certain amount of sense that the last issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up would end up being the ultimate issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up…and, in a way, the final word on Scooby-Doo.
Not that there is likely to ever be a final word on Scooby-Doo, of course. As long as the world and society as we currently know it is around in 2069, I am quite certain we’ll be celebrating Scooby-Doo’s centennial then.
About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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