[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Pat Olliffe & Tom Palmer
Letters: Travis Lanham
Daphne Blake’s boyfriend is back and there’s gonna be some trouble. I mean, like, sure, there are some other people who, like, show up in Scooby Apocalypse #29, but really, like everyone is just talking about Fred. Velma is sure he is a monster, Shaggy has his doubts, and they both worry about what will happen when Daphne finds out.
Oh and Secret Squirrel is still recovering from his last mission, but the “Aftermath” will send him reeling when he learns that Double Q has been replaced.
Both covers. Period. Whatever opinions you might have about this series should be dismissed when you look at the art. Both covers are gorgeous in this issue. The last three issues have been stunning, but these two made me bring it up. Doing otherwise is just a disservice to the artist’s talent.
We get a little more about Fred. It turns out that his eyes began to glow red hours after he died six months ago. Then he got up and walked into a building. Cut to the present and he is lumbering down the street. He looks at his hands and eats the index finger on his right hand before chewing and then spitting it out. He then stops to feast on the corpse of a monster before meeting a blue monster who runs away.
Later, he walks on to a scene where Daphne and Scrappy have just eliminated another mob of monsters. It’s on the heels of a nice monologue from Daphne about how her dad didn’t like dogs but owned six cats. Scrappy is sitting on the floor recovering from a punch from Daphne and pretending to listen.
The final panels on pages 17 and 18 are a horrifying pretense for how Fred’s return will be monstrous. Page 17 features more of Fred feeding on corpses. When a blue monster with pointy ears appears, Fred steps back to share his meal and the monster kneels and buries his face in the internal organs. It’s a monster that ran away from Fred on page 7. In the horizontal panel at the bottom, Fred’s hand appears from above to rest gently on the head of the blue monster, while gore drips from its lower jaw fang and teeth.
Page 18 opens with four square panels that show Fred walking away and the blue monster turning away from its meal to watch. It howls in the third panel and turns in the fourth to follow Fred. In the last panel, Fred finally speaks. He calls the monster little fella and refers to himself as Uncle Freddy. That’s just wrong.
This leads to a really smooth splash page that ends the issue. Fred’s sandy hair is windblown and messy. His eyes are glowing. Blood stains his mouth and jaw. A toothy smile of gleaming white teeth. “It’s time to get this party started,” he says.
Secret Squirrel could use a pity party after walking in to find out that Morocco Mole has replaced Double Q as Chief of the I.S.S. The only thing that can lift Squirrel’s spirits is a nice lunch with Agent Bea, and wiping out an ambush by ninjas, before making plans to see an action movie with his date.
Scrappy and Velma have a disagreement when a field report says that Fred was seen and shot by a patrol group. Velma knows that the only way Fred can still be “alive” must be the work of the monsters or something more sinister. Shaggy is trying to make the argument that they have to be sure before they act, but it’s a little hard to believe. I know that Shaggy is the optimist looking for the best in people, but this seems to belabor the point farther than would be reasonable. I do think that it could point to a need for Shaggy to feel the sense of comfort that would come from know that Fred is not lost forever. Getting the gang back together can have that effect.
Where is Scooby in this story?
Giffen is doing a masterful job arranging the chess pieces and loading them with weight and value. Creating a backstory for Fred that fills in some gaps, but also leaves many details unexplained is a tantalizing tease. The next step is who will Fred see first. Will everything we’ve heard from Shaggy, Velma, Scrappy, and Daphne hold true? Or will there be more surprises when Fred finally shows his face?