[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen
Artist: Kelsey Shannon, Patrick Olliffe
Man. Scrappy is back and it’s an unhappy reunion. Scrappy somehow survived the creature from nine issues back, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. Daphne is hunting the streets for zombies to rid her guilt over losing Fred. Shaggy is cracking jokes and making thoughtful observations. Oh, and don’t forget the four pages of Secret Origin. I mean, Secret Squirrel.
Scrappy’s back and he is hiding something. It’s the kind of thing where he is lashing out so strongly that it could only be a cover. The story that he survived the monster and then limped out bloody and confused sounds too neat. His claims that the reason he came back to the gang is that the world has become too dangerous and he needed food and shelter.
There are many responses to this claim. Shaggy tells Scrappy that he lost his pack and without them, Scrappy needs a place to belong. In simple terms, Scrappy needs a place to call home. Aww, don’t we all?
Velma defends Scrappy to her assistant Grace on the grounds that he saved their lives. Grace thinks it was part of an agenda to gain their trust. Velma says to leave Scrappy to her.
Cliffy is just thrilled that his buddy Scrappy has returned. The poor kid can’t stop shouting and everyone wants to yell at him for it. Scooby gets snubbed, and Scrappy can’t help rubbing his pal’s nose in it.
Scooby doesn’t say much and mostly asks questions. His final scene with Scrappy is timeless. A nice tip of the hat to the artist here. It takes the right combination of panels and imagery to make a quiet moment speak volumes. Scooby and Scrappy on a rooftop at night. Read it and tell me if you disagree.
This is why the betrayal that will inevitably come will be so painful. But, Scrappy will. There are too many holes in his story. Too much time has passed for him to suddenly need help. Daphne’s ability to sleep on the hoods of cars in the streets suggest that the risk and danger Scrappy is afraid of is more than just the outside world getting worse.
But, it’s the last part of his story that is the weakest. Velma says that the last time she saw Scrappy his implants were failing and he was reverting back to his original state. He says that he doesn’t know what happened, and somehow the implants just fixed themselves. I don’t buy it, and when Velma says that she’ll take care of Scrappy, I get the feeling she doesn’t trust him either. Any scientist knows that when the data doesn’t add up, you run a test.
And, don’t think I forgot about Secret Squirrel. Great origin story. The opening scene in the bedroom of his nemesis, telling Agent Bea that he knows who he really is, and the revelation that Secret Squirrel and two others were part of a secret experiment to make them think they were human.
What makes it all so perfect? Squirrel and mole don’t believe a word of it. Secret Squirrel blows up any “proof” of the story because he doesn’t believe it and he and Mole lie on the floor laughing.
Shaggy’s comments are challenged by Scrappy. When he asks if Shaggy is joking, the answer is yes. But, the comments and asides from Shaggy feel more like melancholy sarcasm. It’s not about the way you might expect to hear Shaggy, but more that he is sad and downtrodden.
Great tension with the return of Scrappy. He’s angry and distant and clearly hiding secrets. Scooby creates a sweet moment in the end, but Velma and Shaggy are watching and waiting.
Scrappy will turn soon enough, and then we will see how ready those two are for the outcome. Daphne’s process is leading somewhere, but grieving is a long and angry road.
And Secret Squirrel is so much fun in just a few short pages. Loved every panel.