[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Pat Olliffe & Tom Palmer
Letters: Travis Lanham
The title on the cover is the Dawn of the Daphne, but it feels more like the inside title, Night of the Living Fred. Don’t worry, you’ll see why.
Luckily an electrical accident has turned Scooby into a know it all who can now explain it better than Velma, and she’s not thrilled about it. But since he’s not here, when Daphne learns that Fred is back, she and Scrappy-Doo head back out on the streets. So, why does she leave Scrappy later and make herself into live bait for Fred’s gang of goons? Maybe she’ll explain why if she ever gets out alive.
Oh, and Atom Ant gets the chance to try out for the Justice League. So, why does he think he’s being asked to lead the team? Superman has some explaining to do.
Scooby’s smarts are simply astounding. He’s erudite and contemplative. Oh no, I think it might be contagious! Nah, it was just a moment. I’ll be fine.
But Scooby is a changed man, er dog. Everything is different. When Daphne blames Daisy for the accident it’s Scooby who says that they need to be more like Scrappy and then draws on the example set by Mr. Rogers — before he realizes what he is saying and that he doesn’t know how he is saying it.
Later, when Scooby asks Scrappy to convince Daphne that her “actions are ill-advised” Scrappy complains that “just when he thought things couldn’t get any crazier” and Daphne agrees. Daphne’s reaction is a Bwaa-ha-haha that takes me back to the days of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Thank you, Keith Giffen. My heart shed some happy tears on that one.
Shaggy’s worried about the changes to his little buddy but every time that he asks Velma a question she shuts him down by calling him by his real name — Norville. Harsh tones. But, it does create a new opportunity for tension when Daisy offers to join Shaggy for some coffee and conversation.
Daphne finally finds out that Fred is back and she is not happy. Everyone’s worried about her delicate state, but when she whistles Scrappy is ready to join her on a hunt. It’s fun to watch Daphne finally act out on her feelings for Fred. You know she’s grieving, but she needs to face this or she’ll be stuck in the same loop she’s been trying to get out of since he died. In this case, her form of dealing with it is to drive down the street in a jeep mowing down the monsters she doesn’t shoot. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all solve our problems that way?
Despite all the fun blowing up monsters, the real moment for these two is later in an abandoned home. Daphne’s holding the portrait of the family that used to live there. She and Scrappy talk about Fred and how Daphne needs to see him for herself. But, she doesn’t know what she will do when she does.
Which is why there is so much tension when she leaves Scrappy and puts the rifle under her chin, only to have Fred’s voice interrupt before she can pull the trigger. She’s in shock and Fred announces that he is ready to reclaim his bride.
Scrappy is watching everything from a nearby rooftop. Reporting to a shadowy figure in a dark room filled with monitors. He’s the guy who helped Scrappy get better, but he’s also the guy calling the shots. And he orders Scrappy to not go down and help Daphne. Scrappy decides he’s going anyway, but before he can end his call two monsters attack and pin him down on the rooftop.
Atom Ant and Itty are trying out for spots in the Justice League. This is just too much for Batman to handle, and he pawns it off to Superman. The banter here is just hilarious. Everyone knows that Atom Ant is old school, but hearing him call Superman “Son” is almost too much. Almost.
Bonus, once Atom agrees to the tryout Wonder Woman walks in. When they tell her what is going on she almost ties their thumbs together with her lasso. Nah, but she’s clearly pissed. And Atom is in love.
I’m torn about Velma. My first instinct is that it is normal for her to act out when she is stressed and confused by Scooby’s changes and the challenges at the mall. My second is that she is smarter than that and she could hide it better if she wanted. But, being mean to Shaggy just feels wrong. It’s clearly part of driving Daisy and him closer together. But, it doesn’t feel honest.
Fred’s arrival has been building. The tension is taking a toll on the whole gang. Daphne’s tough veneer is cracking, and Scrappy’s emotional attachment to her is creating conflict with his secret benefactor. The more things continue to strain the ties that bind, the harder it will be for the gang to hold it together. I think the change could make them stronger, but before that happens they will get stranger.
Atom Ant’s first challenge will include trying not to drive Wonder Woman crazy. Diana’s only job is to not step on Atom in a fit of anger.