SCOOBY-DOO! WHERE ARE YOU? #71 (DC Comics)
- W: Derek Fridolks/Sholly Fisch/Embla Malmenlid
- A: Walter Carzon & Horacio Ottolini/Scott Jeralds & Jorge Pacheco/Scott Neely
Just a quick disclaimer before I get into the review. I’m going to try to approach these family oriented books with an eye towards finding a balance between reviewing them with a lighter touch because of their intended audience and treating them like any other book with my normal reviewing style.
In “Boo Recruits”, the first of three stories in this issue, we find the gang being called in by the military to help solve the mystery of the Scary Soldier. They report to a Sargeant Williams who tells them of the spectre of a soldier who has been wandering the grounds of the base and scaring the base personnel. In order to investigate, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby all have to pretend to join the army, boot camp and all. During the day they run drills and do army work and at night they prowl the base for the ghost.
A simple premise that is mostly handled well. Fridolfs chooses to go against some of the established Scooby-Doo tropes which disappointed me a little but the core idea of a ghost that needs to be caught and unmasked is still there. Nobody is going against character or anything. I did find it strange that Mystery Incorporated was specifically requested by Sargeant Williams to check out the base’s haunting but I haven’t read an issue of this book for a while previous to starting these reviews so, if this is an established thing now, I guess it’s cool.
I think my biggest disappointment with the story is the lack of actual clue-finding. The plot is less about the actual mystery of having a ghost running around a military base and more about putting the gang into a situation they’re unaccustomed to with making them wear fatigues and putting them through basic training with a shouty drill Sargeant and everything.
My favourite part of “Boo Recruits” is how Scooby is taken away and put into the K-9 unit. He’s not in the book much but he manages to play a critical role in the gang not getting caught and is the focus for one of the funnier scenes in the book.
Guard: What is it, boy? You find anything?
Scooby: Ruh-uh! Robody rover rere!
Guard: How does anyone understand you? Come on, let’s keep looking.
The next story is a Mini Mystery originally published in Scooby-Doo #122 (2007) titled, “Franklin, My Dear…” and challenges the reader to solve case before Scooby and the gang. It features the ‘ghost’ of Benjamin Franklin talking to Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy about all the advancements that have been made since the 18th century. The digital copy of this book lacks the answer made available on the final page of the print publication but I’m guessing the error Franklin makes is in claiming to have created the pot belly stove.
Don’t quote me on that, though.
One notable thing about this Mini Mystery is it features art by Scott Jeralds and character designs from What’s New Scooby-Doo? whereas the rest of the book features the character in their classic outfits. Jeralds was a director on that series as well as the director on Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire and Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico, among others.
Finally, we close out the issue with a story called “I Want My Mummy” which originally appeared in Scooby-Doo #154 (2010). The gang are on vacation in Egypt and stumble across a haunted pyramid. They’re not even really there to solve anything, they just get chased by a mummy. Other than some decent art and a fun pursuit through the pyramid this really doesn’t have much to offer. The ‘mystery’ is a bit of a shambles and the whole thing feels hackneyed and nonsensical. I mean, the guy claiming to own the pyramid at the beginning looks nothing like the guy they’re talking to at the end who is supposed to be the same character. And who owns a pyramid in Egypt and threatens to tear it down?
There is one mystery not presented in this issue as a challenge that I might actually try and solve. I’m convinced the name of the writer of this story, Embla Malmenlid, is an anagram. The individual has no other writing credits past or present and I can totally see the word ’embalmed’ just by looking at it as I’m typing this. Anybody else want to chime in, feel free.
Overall, Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #71 doesn’t have a lot of appeal outside the young reader’s market. I do realize that it’s intended for a younger demographic but DC has had a lot of success with adaptations of cartoon properties that have had a much wider appeal. Batman Adventures and Powerpuff Girls are two that come readily to mind and I’m sure there are more. Considering the Scooby fandom spans a number of age groups, it sure would be nice if this title could be that kind of book.