This review contains spoilers.
Scooby Apocalypse #1 is written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Howard Porter and colors by Hi-Fi.
This is a reboot of the Scooby-Doo story and very much an origin tale; keep that in mind. Daphne is the host of a failed mystery reality show, Fred is her cameraman, Velma is a research scientist working in Paris on animals, Shaggy is a dog-trainer working at Velma’s facility and Scooby-Doo is one of the test subjects. However, he is considered by the scientists to be a failure. They are creating “smart dogs” to be used by the military. However, Scooby lacked the killer instinct and his intelligence never progressed from a toddler. The only reason he is still alive is because Shaggy defends him. There is a very sweet back-up story in which we see how Scooby and Shaggy meet. Velma and her fellow scientists were working on another project; this was called Elysium. It was intended to save the world but the other scientists manipulated it. They created nano-bites that spread a virus across the world. They are carrying a drug that will make people docile and willing to submit. By doing this, the scientists can end all conflict and essentially rule. Velma sees this as wrong and calls in Daphne and Fred to expose the secret. Scooby and Shaggy also agree to help. She leads them to the room where people can be safe from the virus but it mysteriously goes off. The issue ends with the people outside the facility being turned into monsters.
Despite being a very different take, the heart of the show is still very much intact. While they are in a completely different situation, the characters all still seem like themselves especially Shaggy and Scooby. I never had any doubt I was reading a Scooby-Doo story. The only exception to this is Daphne in that they actually give her a personality. She’s a lot tougher and incredibly egotistical. And she’s the first to call Velma on the horrible implications of Elysium. Daphne is a real stand out character here. She’s a lot of fun with a lot of attitude. Scooby and Shaggy are instantly as adorable as ever and most of the heart comes from them. I love that Scooby still talks the way he always has; I was expecting to him to talk like a normal person but it’s traditional Scooby. That’s great. The back-up story I mentioned earlier is also wonderful and really elevates the issue even further.
The art is great. Hi-Fi is one my favorite colorists right now so that aspect is not a surprise to me but Porter’s inks and pencils are just as wonderful.
The question of free will versus peace is always interesting. There is a genuine argument to be had there. It’s not delved into that much but I’m glad that its there.
Unfortunately, Fred is the only character that doesn’t quite work. There’s nothing wrong with him; he’s just there. They’ve made him more passive in order to make Daphne stronger. I don’t have a problem with that; I just hope that something is done with that as a personality trait. In this issue, he just stands there. He got a couple of good lines and hints of a personality but not much.
I do wish that one of the scientists was there to explain his point of view on Elysium. Everyone in the Scooby Gang agrees that Elysium is wrong and terrible. I agree with that too but I still think there should have been someone on the opposite side of the argument.
Overall, this is a really fun read. It’s wildly creative, full of heart and features terrific artwork. I highly recommend picking this issue up.