Friday, February 28, 2014

Retro-Review: Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (Charlton) #10!

Time once again for me to grab a random comic book from my collection, and this time around, it's Charlton's Scooby Doo... Where Are You! number 10. Now, one would think that writing Scooby Doo comics would be fairly simple, all one has to do is follow the formula: The gang arrives on the scene in the Mystery Machine, find that there's a ghost causing problems, split up to investigate (Fred with the girls, Shaggy with Scooby), having a few encounters, Shaggy and Scooby use disguises at one point to interact with the ghost, Velma finds clues and says "Jinkies!", the ghost chases them a time or two, a trap is set (with Shaggy and/or Scooby acting as bait), the ghost is captured and unmasked as someone who's trying to get people scared away from something so that they can get something, the clues being revealed, and finally, the inevitable "I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids," closing with Scooby saying, "Scooby-doobie-doo!"

Well, that's not the case here! The first story is called "It's Dynamite!" and it opens at Fort Rocks, where the gang has arrived in the Mystery Machine because Velma's Uncle Rudolph (an uncle she doesn't have) has written asking for their help. So far, so good, right? Well, in the first panel, there's a menacing-looking car following the van (the headlights even look like eyes!), and crooks spy on the gang as they check in at the Fort Rocks Hotel! The boys and Scooby share one room, the girls the other. Since there's only one room, they draw straws to see who gets it, and Fred (who's called "Mark" by Shaggy for some reason!) draws first. Scooby wins, despite the fact that Shaggy only took two straws, so Shaggy wins!

Meanwhile, the crooks who were watching the gang have gathered dynamite and bombs because they're planning on blowing up the Mystery Machine. Two of them, despite being Americans, talk in German and Italian accents, because they are spies, and figure they have to talk like them. Their plan is that when the Mystery Machine is inside the fort, they'll call General Rudolph Rudolph and tell him to load the van with gold or they'll blow up the fort. The kids wake up after the sabotage has occurred (Fred is still being called Mark for some reason), and they head to the Fort. Inside, they're brought to General Rudolph, who knows he's not Velma's uncle, because he has no nieces or nephews. Rudolph is called by the spies, who obviously were the ones who sent the letter, and they make their threat. Rudolph asks the gang if they're part of the scheme and Fred/Mark says there's no explosives in the van (Scooby thinks otherwise), and Rudolph decides he has no choice. Scooby whispers to Shaggy (who is portrayed as the only person who understands Scooby), and a plan is hatched. The gang leaves the fort with the gold to meet the spies, but when the back doors of the van are opened, the gang is faced with a cannon manned by Shaggy! The spies give up, Velma wishes the general really was her uncle, and Scooby is given credit for the plan.

This causes Scooby to think, "The general's getting a little flakey, he's beginning to think I can talk too!" and then says, "Which I can... when I want to!" Fred/Mark asks who said that, and Shaggy says, "If I tell you, you wouldn't believe me anyhow, Mark!"

Weird, right? Well, it gets weirder with the second story, "The Wishing Well." The gang is driving the Mystery Machine when it starts overheating, and they stop at an abandoned house to get some water from the well for the radiator. Fred's got his name correct this time around, at least! Velma suggests getting permission before getting water, so Fred knocks on what's left of the door. At first there's no answer, but then an older couple come out of the house (Scooby notices that they walk through the cobwebs without breaking them) and tell the gang that their well is a wishing well, and by taking a drink, they can make a wish, and it'll come true.

They pull up a bucket of water, give some to the Mystery Machine (which actually drinks the water... someone must've confused the Mystery Machine with Speed Buggy!). Daphne is the first of the gang to drink, and becomes rich and wealthy (which is odd, as she's always been portrayed as being wealthy to begin with). Velma takes a drink and becomes Miss America, which is really odd, as she's always been portrayed as the intellectual type, and you wouldn't think that she'd want to be sexy like Daphne is! The old man tells them they only get one wish, and can't go back to the way they were.

Shaggy's wish is for a humongous dish of ice cream, which he gets. Fred's next, and he becomes president (which he claims is his one ambition since he was a kid). Scooby wants them back the way they were, so his wish is that he wanted every wish that anyone had come true to be taken back, and so the gang changes to normal, but the old couple has vanished from sight! It seems that the couple's wish was to live forever, but that made them unhappy, so now they've passed from this mortal veil, and are now ghosts, and thank Scooby for his wish.

The next two pages are a text story called "Giant Size," and given the "quality" of the first two stories, I think it's best to skip that (although at least a brief perusal reveals that Scooby's talking more or less normally in that tale).

Finally, we come to "The Ghost of James Jesse," which at least from the title sounds more promising! The gang enter a town as it's being robbed by the ghosts of the James Jesse Gang, although they're using real bullets. The bank manager didn't take the robbery serious at first, as it's the 100th anniversary of the bank being robbed by the real James Jesse gang, but the bullets convinced him otherwise. The gang go to the library, figuring they'll see where the gang struck next, which will tell them where the ghost gang will strike. The next crime was a stagecoach holdup in the nearby town of Tipton, so they decide to convert the Mystery Machine into a stagecoach and start heading to Tipton, with a pair of horses hitched to the van (at first, Shaggy hitches the horses to the back of the disguised Mystery Machine). About three miles out of Tipton, the gang strike, holding the gang up, and taking their strongbox, which contains a fake snake, which scares the gang. Now captured, the crooks complain that the Mystery Inc. gang isn't fighting fair, and Shaggy realizes that they're not ghosts (duh!). After the crooks are jailed, Shaggy suggests heading for Chicago next, but they figure that if they head there, they'll run into gangsters from the Roaring Twenties!

Clearly, there was little knowledge of Scooby and the gang by whoever wrote these stories! If it weren't for my obsession with picking up cheap Charlton comics, I'd probably have never bought this issue. It's been decades since I read any of the Gold Key Scooby stories, but they have to be better than this issue... I know for sure the Marvel ones were better, as the issues I've read were written by Mark Evanier!

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