By: Sholly Fisch (Writer), Dario Brizuela (Artist), Franco Riesco (Color Artist), Saida Temofonte (Letterer)
The Story: There’s somethin’ strange in Themiscyra. Who Wonder Woman Gonna Call? Mystery, Inc.!
The Review: There’s a mystery on Paradise Island, which admits to having a wealth of warrior women, but a dearth of detectives. And since Batman cannot attend due to the country’s restrictive No-Men Policy, he recommended the young ladies of Mystery, Inc.
It’s really just a set-up issue, presenting the landscape of Paradise Island and explaining Wonder Woman’s call for help. Apparently, Paradise Island can be plagued by mythological monsters. The cliffhanger features a pun and a cyclops, and I’m sure we’ll find out next issue that some real estate developer wants to scare the women away to claim the island for a new resort idea or something.
In the meantime, though, we are presented with some fairly witty exchanges and solid humor, nearly every joke is set-up and lands nicely. “5 heads are better than 3.” “Tell that to Cerebus.” Also: “Nobody’s set any traps or ran around in a panic…” “Is that how you usually solve mysteries?” “You’d be surprised.”
Daphne has apparently gone through bullfighting training, which I find hilarious. I think Daphne suffers from a more superficial role from her very inception, and it can be interesting to see how writers try to bring things to her character. This would be a great example of what to do with her — just have her suddenly announce that she’s been through some obscure and totally unrelated seminar/training as she’s dilettante-d her way around the world. Like an eccentric Batman.
The cast of Paradise Island includes Wonder Woman, obviously, but also Hippolyta and, perhaps making her first appearance in years, Nubia. The designs are perfectly in line with the Hanna-Barbara-ness of Scooby-Doo, as are the “Kanga” mounts in the beginning of the issue. In fact, I wondered if there was some 70s Saturday morning cartoon reference going on here, but unless the artist is pulling on something from the Superfriends series, there was never a Wonder Woman-specific animated series as far as I can tell.
The art avoids some of the criticisms I had before, which made me wonder if things were lifted directly from a model sheet. There’s more variety of poses and expressions, perhaps helped by focusing more on only a part of the cast. Still, there is a distinct difference between the Scooby gang and the wonder women. Notice a nice thick-and-thin line in the Scoobies’ cartooning, and the relatively stiff and straight lines that delineate the Amazons’. By comparison, the Amazons display little appeal in their design, become flat and standardized. Their proportions are too balanced whereas cartooning should rely on contrast to some extent. I would love to know how this is produced. Perhaps there is some stock art for the Scoobies and everything else is drawn as-needed, without care taken to better synch the two visually.
And now for the soapbox. I really need to talk to Velma and explain to her that, no, they really don’t have to check in on the guys, stuck in the Invisible Jet because they can’t set foot on Paradise Island. (The rule must apply only to male humans, as Scooby-Doo has no problem getting around.) It’s nice to know that she values her teammates, and Fred and Shaggy perhaps have contractual obligations to be included despite the set-up of the story. Still, there is a missed opportunity here for a truly girl-centered comic. This comic series from the beginning has great potential for pushing boundaries of our expectations of the Scooby mythos and the DC kids’ universe, but it has yet to really do that, perhaps forever dooming it to a B+, at best.
The Bottom Line: It’s a clever and cute comic with genuine humor and true-to-their-character interactions. There’s something about mysteries, mythology, and superheroes that kids (and kids-at-heart) love, and this is a nice way to deliver on all three.