…is love, sweet love.
In recent months I’ve been talking a lot about the modern-day superhero and comic stuff that I don’t like (mostly related to television and movies), so today, as we stand on the precipice of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d talk about a modern comic that I happen to LOVE. That comic is Scooby Doo Team-Up, which just ended a fifty-issue run that went nearly half a dozen years, from (by cover date) January 2014 to November 2019.
Written entirely by Sholly Fisch, with most of the art by Dario Brizuela—who gets relief for a dozen or so issues from Scott Jeralds, Dave Alvarez, Walter Carzon and Horacio Ottolini— Scooby Doo Team-Up was as loving, reverential, and inclusive a comic series as one is ever likely to find.
Love Love Love
What do I mean by loving and reverential? I’ll give an example.
Before he became a creative superstar writer of comics, Mark Waid got his start writing (and eventually editing) for Fantagraphics’ superhero news mag Amazing Heroes (a sort of mainstream alternative to their ultra-highbrow Comics Journal). In the pages of Amazing Heroes #99 (July 15, 1986), Waid reviewed the classic “last” Superman story, “Whatever Happened to the Man Of Tomorrow?” from Superman #423 (Sept. 1986) and Action Comics #583 (Sept. 1986), written by Alan Moore and drawn by Curt Swan. In this review Waid laid out how and why this tale served as a love letter to the Silver Age Superman:
“Whatever Happened to the Man Of Tomorrow?” is filled with… Weisinger-era touches… And in the best scene in Superman #423, the Legion appears in the Fortress to bid Superman farewell, and there’s not a Wildfire or a Sensor Girl in the bunch. This is the Legion of Super- Heroes circa 1962, when they were not feature players, but rather supporting characters who turned up occasionally in the Superman books.
In Scooby Doo Team-Up #33 (Feb. 2018), we see the Legion given almost the exact same treatment—it’s the classic Legion of the 1960s. Thirty-four years later, there is still not a Wildfire or a Sensor Girl in the bunch.
Then there’s Scooby Doo Team-Up #30 (Nov. 2017), where the Scooby gang teams up with the Challengers of the Unknown. But the story doesn’t stop with just the Challengers—we also get Rip Hunter, the Sea Devils, Cave Carson, and the (original) Secret Six. Issue #36 (May 2018) sees the gang introduced to Angel and the Ape… along with the Inferior Five, Stanley & His Monster, the Maniaks, and Sugar and Spike. A fan could believe he fell into a time warp back to 1968 just by reading this!
The Scooby characters also stay true to their original cartoon depictions. Fred’s got the ascot, Daphne is dressed in purple, Velma has the baggy orange sweater, and Shaggy & Scoob are still Shaggy & Scoob.
But the stories don’t render themselves slaves to the past, either—which is why I also describe them as inclusive
Scooby Doo Team-Up #43 (Dec. 2018) sees those meddling kids join forces with the classic Doom Patrol lineup of Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, and the Chief. But also making appearances are Danny the Street, Crazy Jane, and Flex Mentallo. Then issue #25 (Jun. 2017) gives us a Green Lantern and Green Arrow who seemed to jump straight out of the classic O’Neil/Adams run circa 1971, but with Oliver making references to people “failing this city,” the story also pays service to the more recent television characterization from his CW show, Arrow.
So while the stories clearly revere history, they still often leave room to include more modern material and interpretations.
Now the plots aren’t very deep, with nearly all of them being your standard Scooby-formula ghost stories (with the occasional non-ghost mystery thrown in), but who cares? The main point of these stories is to see Scooby and the gang interact with all these great, classic characters of DC and Hanna-Barbera lore, and boy does the series ever deliver in this department.
I confess I haven’t read all of the issues, but I’ve read most of them at this point. Among my favorites are:
SDTU #6 (Nov. 2014), featuring the Scooby gang joining the Super Friends against the Legion of Doom. This combination of characters brought me back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood like no comic has in ages.
SDTU #9 (May 2015) not only has Superman, but Krypto the Super-Dog as well. (A later team-up with Supergirl would feature Streaky the Super-Cat.)
SDTU #13 (Jan. 2016) has the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, and the Spectre as the titled guest stars, but basically every ghost in the history of DC comics makes an appearance in this one.
SDTU #14 (Mar. 2016) has Aquaman, Mera, Aqualad, Aquagirl, Aquababy (ALIVE! NOT A HOAX! NOT AN IMAGINARY TALE!), plus TUSKY, the aquatic mutant walrus from the 1960s Filmation cartoon. When I first saw this I seriously wondered if I was hallucinating.
SDTU #15 (May. 2016) has got the Flash in an adventure that takes the gang to Gorilla City, which would be enough by itself, but then when you throw in homages to the Silver Age Flash like this:
…well, then you’ve really got something! For any and all the poor souls out there unfamiliar with the classic, crazy Flash covers of the Silver Age, click here. You’re welcome.
SDTU #19 (Dec. 2016) has Zatanna as the titled guest star, but yet again, nearly every magical character in DC history makes an appearance.
SDTU #23 (Apr. 2017) has Quick Draw McGraw plus a surprise guest star from deep in the Hanna-Barbera vault. I speak of ping-ping-PING! Ricochet Rabbit (and Droop-a-long), a favorite from the many childhood afternoons I spent watching The Magilla Gorilla Show on channel 11 here in the NY-metro area in the mid 70s and early 80s.
SDTU #24 (May 2017) teams Scooby up with the Martian Manhunter, along with (you guessed it) almost every other alien hero DC has, including some obscurities like Jemm, Son of Saturn, and Ultra the Multi-Alien.
SDTU #26 (Jul. 2017) has got Hong Kong Phooey, yet another childhood fave. Adding to this is Daphne’s observation…
YES THANK YOU! I pointed this out nearly six years ago and still, even in this story, HKP has yet to successfully karate chop anybody.
And finally, SDTU #38 (Jul. 2018) has Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, yet more childhood faves of Saturday mornings past, plus the rather clever plotline of Dynomutt worrying that Blue Falcon is turning into one of those clichéd “grim and gritty” superheroes. This was a gem.
I think the final trade collection of the last half-dozen issues of the series is already out—if such is not the case, then it should be released fairly soon. Track ‘em down if you can, as I’m not sure we’ll ever see a series like this again.