Batman and Scoob are back and so is Erich Owen who continues to be my favorite artist working on this series. The question is, can the writing live up to his art? Let’s see.
This month, Sholly Fisch is back on scripting duties and the theme is AI and cyberspace. It was bound to happen at some point given how inescapable the topic is these days. Not that it’s all that unique for these characters. It’s a topic both Batman and Scooby-Doo have made use of in the past, though this story takes a decidedly more Scooby-Doo-friendly direction. Rather than a malevolent AI bent on control or world destruction that Batman has faced in the past, (think Brother Eye) we instead have an AI that is supposedly possessed by “the ghost in the machine.” In reality, it has been hijacked by a Batman villain. Essentially, it’s the same formula that past issues have utilized to blend the franchises.
What really works about this issue is the way the setting allows Fisch to play off the tropes of Scooby-Doo in new ways. For example, half the gang ends up with their minds trapped in cyberspace while the other half hunts down the source of the ghost in the real world. This acts as a creative way of reconceptualizing the classic “let’s split up and search for clues” segment.
I’d say that’s the main hook of this issue but it isn’t the only good quality to be found. Fisch has proven before, and does so here as well, that he has a good handle on the characters. This issue’s humor also lands well, though I would be remiss if I didn’t credit Erich Owen’s art for selling it. His facial expressions and body language remain delightful and bring life to the script. I have to admit some of the backgrounds are very sparse, especially the scenes set in cyberspace which are mostly filled with green ones and zeros, but the dynamic character work makes up for it in my opinion. In particular, I enjoy his depiction of the ghost. It’s highly reminiscent of the “Giggling Green Ghosts” from Scooby-Doo Where Are You? (on purpose I’m sure). The detail in the fingers in particular stands out to me. I love how boney and ghoulish they are. Fantastic.
Owen’s only weak area is, again, the lack of shadows in his coloring. The cover of this issue makes great use of shadows which makes the lack of them in the interior art stand out even more. Owen does do his own coloring so I can understand if he doesn’t have the time to include them but if that’s the case why not use a separate colorist?
Outside that, there are a few other areas that don’t quite work, but they’re hardly deal-breakers for me. Most notable is the tech side of things.
Now, I’m no computer expert but I don’t see how “advanced” VR headsets can send a user’s mind into cyberspace and allow them to step through a firewall that can’t be breached from a computer. The villain also never makes his goals particularly clear which is odd, but all in all these flaws rarely get in the way of enjoying this comic.
- You like Erich Owen’s art as much as me
- The Giggling Green Ghosts are your favorite Scooby-Doo villains
- You want to see Shaggy, Scooby, and Velma dressed up like they’re in the matrix
I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. It provides all the components I look for in a standard Scooby-Doo story and makes good use of Batman as well. While it does have flaws, they aren’t deal breakers, and the art and humor make up for them most of the time. Recommended!
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.