Saturday, December 30, 2017

REVIEW: Scooby-Doo Team-Up #33 (2017)



SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #33 —
Regular cover by Dario Brizuela.
©DC Comics

SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #33
DC Comics, $2.99, 32pgs.
On-sale December 27, 2017

“The Ghost of Ferro Lad”
20 pages, Read Time – 12:35

by Sholly Fisch (story), Dario Brizuela (art), Frano Riesco (colors), and Saida Temofonte (letters). Edited by Kristy Quinn.

 BOTTOM LINE: It’s the only Legion we’re getting lately, so, don’t knock it! Besides it’s kinda cute, if you can accept not one Legionnaire is smarter than the average 7-year-old reader.

So, based on the name of this blog alone, you might be able to guess I’m a pretty big fan of DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. And, as such, you’d probably presume I’d be a tough critic when it comes to something like this. But, no. In fact, I appreciate almost any love DC still shows for the Legion. And, hey, crossovers with Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny are about all the use we’ve seen DC make of the team these past few years! Plus, I accept some tweaks will be necessary when massaging the property for younger readers. Heck, I’m actually interested in seeing just how that is accomplished, as I remain convinced the Legion would make an excellent basis for a kids’ comic and toy line.

Any, hey, any use of the characters that doesn’t up and decide Mon-El and Saturn Girl are married now is at least not the worst thing DC is allowing to be done with my all-time favs these days.

Now, you will no doubt be proud of me that I resisted the urge to snark, "OMG! They're using the '60s Legion costumes with the '80s team logo! Worst. Comic. EVER!"

Still, I did find it odd that this issue depicts the Legion’s Bronze Age HQ on the cover, yet the Silver Age Clubhouse inside. Sure, I get that the newer version makes for the more imposing, dramatic cover image, while it’s the campy classic inside that sets up the usual “crashed rocket” joke. But, still, I have to wonder if any young readers came away confused by the change from cover to interior?

Anyway, the Legion comes back in time to get help from the Scooby Gang given that their clubhouse is being haunted by the ghost of Ferro Lad. Great set up! Okay, sure, you have to accept the premise of Scooby lore that these teenagers are world-famous crime solvers, and that even the Legion thinks Fred et. al. are better ghost-catchers than anyone they can throw at the problem — but, hey, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?  But even so, if writer Sholly Fisch handed in 100 LSH springboard story ideas, editor Kristy Quinn could not have picked a better one for a Scooby Gang adventure.

Still, I did find it funny when Lightning Lad reasoned that the Legion has “some geniuses . . . but no real detectives.” I’m sure Chameleon Boy would be interested to know that, given that he was stranger-in-a-strange-hat Sherlocking decades before Star Trek’s Data was even conceived, much less built.

Then there are other things, like Princess Projectra saying everyone on her planet can cast illusions. Okay . . . no. Still, I had to tell myself, let it go, just accept it for what it is.

And there were other laughable moments, like the Mission Monitor Board depiction of Bouncing Boy and Shrinking Violet taking on Darkseid. But I think that was supposed to be a joke.

I do appreciate that artist Dario Brizuela got all the Legion costumes right. Of course, I’d wager he was provided with a reference source. In fact, give that one panel of the Nolan brothers is a near exact match for a panel in the classic Adult Legion story, I can just about guess which issue he was given. I say “just about” only because I can’t remember if that particular panel was in ADENTURE COMICS #354, or #355.

Now, even though I was willing to overlook a lot, I still had to swallow hard when Velma suggested Ferro Lad’s twin bother might be a suspect in the haunting of the Legion Clubhouse, and the Legion was all, like, “Oh, gee, ya think? We never thought of that.” I mean, really?! And Brainiac 5 is a 12th level intelligence? Is that on a scale of 1-t0-1,000?

However, all was forgiven when we got to Dougie and he’s all, like, “No way, man, I’m not haunting you. I’m happy as a Jovian space clam living life as an accountant.” I literally laughed out loud. Of course, later on I had to wonder how much work it takes to become a CPA in the 31st century. I mean, Not-Ferro Lad is still a teenager, right?

The only real downer to the issue was the solution to the crime. As Velma ticks off the various things that might have created the image of Ferro Lad’s ghost, she mentions Green Lantern’s ring and asks if  there is anyone in the 31st century with a similar power. Brainy doesn’t confirm whether there is a GL Corps in the future, because he’s at least smart enough to know what a ball of wax that one is. So, instead, he points to the Emerald Eye. And that works well enough, except for this — Brainy literally says the eye was there each time the ghost appeared, it’s just that nobody noticed it.

Oh, really?! Are you actual Legionnaires, or are you Subs?  The eye was just floating there the whole time and nobody saw it? It would have been better if Brainy had said the eye was there, only invisible, for whatever reason. And maybe once they know the eye is present, Invisible Kid spots it, maybe because he can also see invisible things. Whatever. I could have accepted a tweak like that if it allowed for a scene to demonstrate how the Legion accepts even those with supposedly weak powers, because everybody can be a hero in their own way.

Still, however, the revelation was made, the subsequent fight with the Fatal Five was fun. Not that it was much of a fight. Would that the Legion could take down the Five this easily every time. But the real fun was how they defeated baby-brained Validus, who was suddenly less interested in fighting than with petting the Legion’s new puppy (i.e. Scooby-Doo). That one didn’t draw a LOL, but it sure made me smile. It was, after all, a shining example of why I like this series so much. It’s because, to quote a phrase oft-used by Kevin Smith, it’s “charming as fu*k.”

So, it was fun, I liked, it, and I wonder if Legion fan sites online will now list Scooby and the Gang as honorary Legion members, right alongside Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Rond Vidar, Pete Ross, and Kid Psycho. Actually, a team-up now with the gang and their fellow honorary Legionnaires would not go unappreciated.

I wouldn’t mind a team-up with the actual Subs, either.

And that just leaves it to me to mention the art. It’s both a high and a low for this series, to me. I mean, Brizuela gets all of the Scooby gang exactly spot on-model. So, that’s a super plus. His super-heroes however, all seem to be cut from the same template, as if he’s just adding costuming tweaks to a computer model. Not that they look bad at all. I just wish he’d put more time into their depictions, as well. Also, except for the occasional establishing shot, this series rarely has any backgrounds to speak of, which somehow seems to reinforce to my eye that all of the non-cartoon characters are drawn on basically the same body and facial shape.

Also, it seems to me that Brizuela must draw this title digitally, and that, perhaps to save time, he cuts and pastes a lot of the Scooby Gang poses from previous drawings. Maybe not, but it sure seems that way when we get giant variation in line thickness. There are a couple of pages in this issue where the Scooby Gang are drawn in super thick lines, no matter if they are in the foreground or the background, in stark contrast to the Legion members sharing the same panels. So, it just makes it look like maybe Brizuela digitally drew in the Legionnaire to the appropriate size for a given panel, then dropped in a Scooby Ganger and resized it to fit the space, regardless of how thick or thin that made the character’s contour lines.

It’s not a huge thing, but it does occasionally draw me out o the story, causing me to miss sight of the art for the obviousness of the artiface.

And, finally, in our Bottom-of-the-Page Department: In my full review for Issue#30 I included a Top 10 list of most-wanted future team ups, some of which probably can’t happen, due to licensing issues. Now, I’m sure editor Kristy Quinn did not consult my wish list. Still, we will be getting two of my 10 — Angel and the Ape, and Stanley and his Monster — along with the Inferior Five, in #36, out in March.

For what it’s worth, the rest of my list included:

• Blue Falcon and Dynomutt
• Clue Club
• Detective Chimp
• The Dingbats of Danger Street
• Funky Phantom
• Goober and the Ghost Chasers
• Jabberjaw, and
• Speed Buggy (racing the Mystery Machine!)

So, to that list, to fill-in for my two taken requests, I now add:

• Bat-Cow, and
• Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Now, Bat-Cow is, I admit, kind of a lark. But orders from comics shops have spiked for this series both times Harley Quinn appeared. So, I’m just sort of curious to see what kind of affect, if any, Bat-Cow would have on sales. Also, I think it would be a fun challenge for writer Sholly Fisch to figure out just how to work Bat-Cow into a Scooby story.

As to Sigmund, I really think the Krofft characters could make the basis for a really strong young readers line of comics that also appeals to adults. Elsewhere, you’ve probably seem me suggest Eric Powell, creator of The Goon, as writer/artist for an ongoing Sigmund series. But even if we don’t go completely that route, I still think its worth Warner Bros. licensing on behalf of DC, or maybe even buying outright, rights to the Krofft stable of characters. At any rate, featuring some of those characters here could be considered a test run for more Krofft comics. I almost suggested Electra-Woman and Dynagirl as the first team-up, but I think Sigmund & Co. probably fits in better with the Mystery Inc. vibe.

***RECOMMENDED FOR LEGION GROUPIES***

STORY GRADE: C
ISSUE SCORE: 74.75

COVER: 8.00 | PLOT: 7.00 | SCRIPT: 7.75 | LAYOUT: 7.50 | ART: 8.50 | EDITS: 7.00
PRODUCTION: 8.25 | VALUE: 7.00 | COLLECTIBILITY: 8.50 | GOSH-WOW: 5.25

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