SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #3 (DC Comics)
- W: Keith Giffen/JM DeMatteis
- A: Howard Porter/Dale Eaglesham
In the modern comic book market the typical length of most serialized stories is five or six-issues. There are exceptions to this rule, sure, but this is an accepted and unsurprising practice. Not five or six-issues because they need to be, mind you, but because it makes it easier to bundle them up when it has completed its run on the comic book shelves so they can sell them in the bookstores for $25 a pop.
Why is this relevant, you ask?
Well, by adhering to this narrative structure the third issue of any story invariably ends up being one of two things: everything either starts to go off the chain and there’s a major paradigm shift for the story or the characters, or things get quiet and the characters get a chance to catch their collective breaths before their situation heats up again.
Scooby Apocalypse #3 falls into the latter category.
I’m not sure that’s a good thing, though, because there really hasn’t been a lot of action in the previous two issues to warrant taking a break like this. The first issue was a lot of talking and setup, the second issue gave us the impression things were going off the rails, and then issue three is a mostly quiet recap issue where the characters reestablish their roles and their group dynamic. Nothing really gets moved forward here and nothing really changes. When they do change, it’s fleeting as they tend to change back again fairly quickly. Daphne, for example, begins to soften towards Velma but then gets reminded of Velma’s involvement in the Elysium Project and the nanite plague and she just gets mad at her again. This coiuld be due to fear or panic, but it doesn’t really service the story in any tangible way.
It’s like when on a TV show they need to give their principal actors some time off so they choose to focus on side characters for an episode so as not to move the plot forward without their main protagonists. Or, since all of our heroes are actually featured prominently in this issue, maybe a better example would be an episode of Star Trek: Voyager where they just hit the reset button after every show.
This is compounded by the fact that there is an actual guest artist present and contributing to this issue. Dale Eaglesham does a decent enough job of filling in for a handful of pages (Porter is not absent, just producing a smaller page count this issue) but those pages involve the dramatic escape from The Complex in the Mystery Machine and the story is structured to give us all that information through flashbacks rather than just kicking off the issue with all hellzapoppin! I actually thought I missed an issue when the story starts in medias res with Fred injured and Daphne thanking Velma for doing what she can with his injuries. They also have a discussion about who is going to clean all the guts and viscera collected on the outside of the van during the escape, all referencing things we have yet to actually see.
To be fair, it’s not a weird narrative device on its own, but it is being used here in a way that kind of disrupts the wonderful momentum Giffen and DeMatteis have already built up to this point. Porter draws the aftermath stuff and Eaglesham draws the Great Escape sequence which they dole out to the reader, piecemeal, throughout the book. I do suspect that Eaglesham’s presence may account for some of these choices and how they felt they should structure the narrative of this issue. Had there not been a guest artist involved I probably wouldn’t go there but, in my eyes, it just stands out.
And speaking of standing out, what’s up with Eaglesham putting Velma in super suggestive positions and going full-on upskirt with her on page 12?? Or the shot where Shaggy throws Daphne into the Mystery Machine and she falls onto Velma who gets a face full of Daphne’s breasts?
On a more positive note, the character interactions are quite good. Character and dialogue has always been a strength of the Giffen and DeMatteis team. We get to see more Scooby and more Fred in this issue which was nice because there was practically no Scooby last issue and Fred had kind of taken a backseat to everything else going on. We see Daphne going through what may be a bit of PTSD and we learn a smidgen more about the Elysium Project, the mysterious Four (Horseman of the Apocalypse? Just throwing that out there), and see Scooby and Shaggy finally try to get their snack on.
It’s the little callbacks that make you smile.
Overall, this is a mixed bag of an issue. There were things I liked and there were things I didn’t. I do have a sense, though, that it won’t really matter much, if at all, that I’ve read this when issue four hits the stands. Having read as much as I have from these guys, I just cannot shake the feeling that this is a filler issue to make up the page count for a future trade.
I’ll have to wait to see #4 before passing final judgment, I think.