From the publisher: “Jinkies! Velma is gone! Can the gang put their feelings about her aside long enough to rescue her from the apocalyptic wasteland that she helped create? They better do so quickly, because a powerful puppy is right on their tail!”
Maybe I’m just used to compiled volumes of comics, but individual issues end way too quickly for me. I’ll sit down with a nice cup of tea and flip open the first page. Before I know it, I’m closing the comic and sealing it back up again, and usually I haven’t even finished my tea! When you’re enjoying a ride as much as I’ve been enjoying Scooby Apocalypse, it’s a sad thought to realize how quickly the journey is coming to an end. Hopefully the series still has a fairly long life ahead of it, if I may be absurdly optimistic. But for now, I’m just disappointed that I’m almost caught up to the current release, because I have that much less content ahead of me to enjoy.
Am I to assume that the smart-dogs-communicating-through-emoticons concept was scrapped? It’s been a number of issues since I can recall a smart dog using an emoticon – it was one of Scrappy’s less intellectual followers. The idea was laughable at best, and often the emoticons just cluttered up the art. While I enjoyed the ingenuity behind the idea, I can’t say I’m sad to see it go.
Anyway, this issue opens with Shaggy and Scooby-Doo searching for Velma while Fred and Daphne discuss Velma’s betrayal back at the motel. The former scene is an example of Scooby Apocalypse‘s often-frustratingly linear storytelling style. Shaggy and Scooby engage in banter and set the tone for the first half of the comic, but there’s very little meat to the scene. Writer Giffen knows where the story needs to go next and he uses many scenes as vehicles to get from Point A to Point B without a hitch, when hitches often serve as subplot drivers. Fred and Daphne’s conversation has comparatively more substance to it, so it’s not all bad. It’s the comic proving again that its value lies in its dark and nostalgic entertainment, not its storytelling. The gang pursues Velma as soon as they can, though one does have to wonder if it took them a few days to realize how to find her. (Velma was incapacitated for a while, remember?)
As it turns out, Velma’s the unfortunate victim of a bad pun. When the story shifts to her, she’s involved in a perilous situation that doesn’t just border on absurdity – it dates, moves in with, and starts a family with absurdity. And it goes on for far too long, taking up valuable page space in the issue. Because the whole thing just irked me, and because it’s not funny in the first place, I’ll just be direct about this. It’s monster trucks. As in, Velma is being chased by horrendous behemoths perched atop motorized conveyances. There are dozens of other ways this pun could have been implemented, much more effectively, so it’s annoying that it interrupts what should be the catharsis of the current plotline. This isn’t a series known for realism, but even so this whole scene was completely unnecessary and detracting.
The gang rushing to Velma without so much as a detour highlights again one of the quieter problems plaguing this series – the same problem surrounding Shaggy and Scooby’s search scene. Despite taking its sweet time to provide any answers toward its many mysteries, Scooby Apocalypse jumps from plot beat to plot beat at a breakneck pace, leaving no time for the story to indulge in subplots. As when Scooby went full martyr back in Issue #7 but returned without so much as a “Welcome back” in Issue #8, Velma returns to the group without the story taking much time to explore any potential events between her departure and rescue. She could have successfully fended off a monster or two on her own, Scooby and Shaggy could have more directly impacted the events in the house they come across, Daphne and Fred could have run into trouble on the road… I’m spitballing ideas here. They’re mostly minor and inconsequential, and that’s possibly why Giffen decides to ignore these potential subplot routes. Still, cliffhangers in this series get resolved much too quickly to allow for any real tension or suspense to develop. If the story wants to be linear, that’s its business. It’s just disappointing to see all these interesting subplot possibilities flash past without exploration.
I can’t really discuss this last section without engaging in spoilers, so skip ahead to avoid those. The final portion of the comic is dedicated to a short side story introducing Rufus Dinkley, one of Velma’s brothers and a member of The Five. (The first page and a half of his story an introduction for his character as well as a set up for a joke that absolutely lands. Giffen, take note. Center the jokes around the content – not the content around the jokes.) There’s a lot that hits and a lot that misses about this guy. Giffen wastes no time in introducing readers to his red-hot temper and selfish capitalistic mannerisms. Revelations regarding his personality seem like they might have worked better if slowly unveiled after an encounter with the gang, as now readers already know to label him as an antagonist. His personality itself comes off as marginally unbelievable, as his desire for immediate gratifications and his violent temperament override the logical areas of his mind, causing him to act in ways completely counterproductive to his goal. He’s not ridiculous or anything, but assuming he is the first antagonist Velma’s group will encounter, he seems largely incompetent as an opposing force. Or perhaps he’s just a simple man who relies on his fists… which does not really mesh with his background as the greatest businessman
alive ever. Still, as enjoyable as Velma’s soul-searching has been recently, it is nice to have a tangible antagonist finally, since it appears Scrappy won’t be doing anything for a while. Despite being somewhat two-dimensional, Rufus still manages to be an enjoyable presence in the comic.
Scooby Apocalypse still manages to shine on sheer entertainment value alone. The story-writing has settled into a simple, linear format, but it is supported by generally strong comedy, grim tone-setting art, and likable characters. This series isn’t one I would recommend exactly for its quality. But I can only think of one other comic I have this much fun reading. Maybe it’s still the novelty of the overall concept, or perhaps I’m just infatuated with the way the series intertwines genuine comedy with its desolate, melancholy premise. Regardless, Scooby Apocalypse is still proving a fun journey, even if it seems unwilling to take many risks with its narrative direction.
Scooby Apocalypse #11
- Remains grimly amusing in its mix of humor and despair
- Rufus is more hit than miss
- Art maintains a dark and stony look
- Anticlimactic resolution to Velma's solo mission
- Ventures into absurdity for the sake of a joke
- Fast pacing results in a narrow story