This month in The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries, it seems that Batman has replaced the gang with a new mystery-solving team. Meanwhile, an ancient bat spirit is haunting Gotham. Can Scoob and his friends solve the case first and prove to Batman that they’re still valuable partners? More importantly, after last month, this title needs a win. Let’s see how it fares.
I’ll start by saying it’s always a good month when Erich Owen is drawing. His style speaks to me and it brings up an interesting thought about art in general. Owen’s art isn’t the smoothest, most refined art this series has had to offer but it’s still my favorite. The truth is, while the technical side of art is important, we don’t always connect to art because it is mechanically perfect. Enjoyment of art is very personal and being able to draw something “correctly” is not. More often than not, it is the inaccuracies (which can easily be intentional) that endear us to an artist. For me, it’s the way Owen can express character emotion (especially in the faces) that gives his work value. I’ve mentioned before that I wish his coloring wasn’t so flat but in the end, it hardly matters because I would still rather see his art than anyone else featured on this series so far. To be clear, that isn’t to put the other artists down. They certainly have skill as well but like I said, it’s personal. If what I valued most in art was consistency, Dario Brizuela’s art would be my favorite. I have to add, I’m not trying to say there is no such thing as bad art. On both a subjective and objective level, there certainly is. I’m only considering how a personal connection can create a distinction between two good artists.
So, given my more personal connection to Owen’s art, there wasn’t much chance that I was going to dislike the visual aspect of this issue. The writing is the only element I went in questioning and thankfully, this story successfully returns the series to a high point. Issue #3 is still my favorite, but this comes close.
The plot of this story lends itself well to comedy and I had a lot of fun with the gang attempting to deal with Batman’s cold shoulder. That does mean that Batman doesn’t get as much focus in this issue but Fisch found a way to keep him from totally disappearing from the comic (like he did in issue #4). As Mystery Inc tries to solve the case before Batman, they consistently run into him at the scene of each crime which not only keeps him in the comics but also offers an opportunity to develop the conflict between them. That leads to the most memorable moment in the book too.
I also got a good laugh out of a montage showing the gang fouling up Batman’s crimefighting attempts but it does lead me to my one reservation about the issue. It does its work too well and makes me question why Batman would want to work with Scooby and his friends. Even a lighter-hearted version of Batman like this is still the world’s greatest detective and a crime-fighting machine. When you think about it, there’s no way around the gang being a liability to him. It’s not a big deal and I’m happy to roll with the premise of this series but it seems to me that it would be best to avoid highlighting how wide the competence gap between Batman and Mystery Inc is.
- You like expressive art
- This issue changes up the formula a bit
- You’re in the mood for some light fun with two of your favorite franchises
I had a lot of fun with this issue. It offers an interesting premise, really fun art, and balances its characters well. What’s so great about this series is that it allows you to jump in randomly and pick up issues that interest you without worrying about missing previous events. Last month I recommended skipping. This month, I say give it a read!
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this issue for the purposes of this review.