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REVIEW: DC’s Scooby-Doo Where Are You #116

When Velma breaks her glasses, things begin to look dire for Mystery Inc. in Fridolfs and Elliott’s Scooby-Doo Where Are You #116.

Mystery Inc. is back on the road! Scooby-Doo and the kid detectives aboard the mystery machine are back in Scooby-Doo Where Are You #116, written by Derek Fridolfs, drawn by Randy Elliott, colored by Silvana Brys, and lettered by Saida Temofonte. Taking the series back to the original style of the beloved classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma are back in action, solving mysteries and uncovering dastardly deeds — until Velma breaks her glasses.

A fraught trip to the eyeglasses store results in a monster encounter when a cyclops sets his sight on attacking Velma. Could it be the work of a disgruntled customer who got skipped in line, a frustrated employee with an agenda, or something closer to home? Velma’s eyesight woes don’t end when she sees a ghost in court while testifying against a suspect the Gang had exposed. The problem is, she’s the only one that can see it. Is there a real supernatural threat? Or is there something more mundane at foot?

Related: REVIEW: Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #4

Everything about this issue feels like classic, old-school Scooby-Doo, specifically the original 1969 animated series on which this ongoing comic is based. After so many re-imaginings, deconstructions, reconstructions, and attempts to “modernize” the franchise with varying results and reception, it’s refreshing to see Scooby-Doo literally going back to basics.

That being said, this is a throwback to the original series–a 60s television show directed at young children, so Scooby-Doo Where Are You #116 has the same overly simplistic, childlike tone with pretty clear black-and-white morality, in contrast to the darker and supernatural storylines of the 80s and 90s. There are plenty of classic tropes such as the red herrings, and some genuinely weird and funny moments, with cheesy dialogue and obviously punny names, but it can be jarring and disappointing to readers used to complex and twisted storylines. But Fridolfs still crafts a remarkably fun story. The first mystery has a cool twist and a more convincing red herring, with just enough foreshadowing that the ending isn’t a total surprise.

Related: REVIEW: DC’s Catwoman #44

This issue, featuring two back-to-back mysteries, focuses mostly on Velma Dinkley, the brain power behind the team. Velma is usually the member of this Scooby Gang to use deductive reasoning or discover small clues and details the others miss. Her glasses are a big plot device in both mysteries, but for different, yet very clever reasons. Velma’s broken glasses force her to work differently. This also makes the rest of the team to investigate differently as they all step out of their comfort zones

Elliott perfectly emulates the thick, consistent line art of the 1960s series, but with a contemporary digital polish. While colorist Silvana Brys stays true to the saturated earth tones and bright primary colors of the original series, the soft shading elevates the craft. At times, the soft texture of the shading clashes with the crispness of the line art, and the bulkiness of the Scooby-Doo world. But, ultimately, it conveys a sense of depth and keeps the art from looking too flat.

Scooby-Doo Where Are You #116 is a quaint and fun return to basics for the series. The entire creative team has done an excellent job recreating the magic of the source material while playing with the team’s overall dynamic. While it can feel unnecessarily simple, it has enough lighthearted fun to remind fans what makes this franchise so special in the first place.

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