Marley’s Fevered Brain: Family Fun

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

DC just announced plans to launch an all ages line of comics so I thought it would be a good time to look at their re-imagining of the Hanna-Barbera characters (which were kids cartoons, although some were intended for adults at first), as well as a new collection of the classic Hanna-Barbera material from the 1990s and what I consider the best DC book, month after month, and perhaps the best comic period every month, Scooby Doo Team-Up. DC is currently doing a number of great books for younger readers, such as Scooby-Doo Team-Up and the DC Heroes Girls graphic novels. In addition to the books designed for kids, DC decided to take classic Hanna-Barbera characters and update them, I assume for adults. They also did this in the back-up stories in the recent DC/Hanna-Barbera team-ups. Future Quest/Adam Strange, Booster Gold/Flintstones, Green Lantern/Space Ghost, and Suicide Squad/Banana Splits all had short back-ups with modernized Hanna-Barbera characters, including Snagglepuss, Top Cat, and others. I believe DC plans to launch more of these revised versions of the classic cartoon characters down the road, and based on my reviews of what they have done so far, and based on the short stories that were featured in these specials, I have mixed feelings about it. But, time will tell, so let’s look as what is already in print.

Future Quest

Future Quest


Future Quest just wrapped up its run of 12 issues written by Jeff Parker and drawn by “Doc” Evan Shaner, Steve Rude, Ron Randall, and others. The first six issues are collected into one fancy little trade and a second one with the second half of the story no doubt coming this fall or sooner. This books takes almost all of the Hanna-Barbera adventure characters, including Johnny Quest, Birdman, Space Ghost, the Impossibles, Galaxy Trio, and others, and throw, them in one epic story as all of these characters join forces to fight an intergalactic menace. This book was beautiful to read, even with the constant art changes. My problem is the book was slow to get started, the early issues were set up with a second story introducing the characters of the team to new readers, with basically origin stories. The second half of the series became an all-out action thrill-ride as the heroes join forces to defeat the menace. I must admit I was disappointed overall with this series, but I suspect some of that was my expectations. This book did suffer from delays and a few issues were late, but having now read all twelve issues in one sitting, I can honestly say it was a fun ride, just not as great as I had hoped it would have been. I am confident that if they do another series, which is the rumor, the book will read much better as there is not the need for all of the explanations as to who these heroes are. Still worth checking out and reading.

Looney Tunes

Looney Tunes


Looney Tunes has been running on and off for almost 70 years. DC has been producing a monthly Looney Tunes book for well over twenty years now with new stories of Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Porky Pig, and the rest of the cast. DC has never really put much thought into this book; it comes out on time and it is always good for a smile. So I must say I was pleased to see DC has released two volumes so far of Looney Tunes Greatest Hits, which reprints six issues at a time in sequence for the DC history of publishing Looney Tunes. Not the classic material from the ‘40s through the ‘60s, but now I have hope. The first volume is called Looney Tunes Greatest Hits Vol.1: What’s Up, Doc? and reprints 14 stories from Looney Tunes #34-40. Volume two is called Looney Tunes Greatest Hits Vol. 2: You’re Despicable and it reprints Looney Tunes issues #41-47. There are a number of creators involved here, and while most are not well known to superhero fans, they are all very talented and any fan of the classic cartoons that inspired these comics will enjoy this stories. A third collection is coming this summer reprinting issues #48-53, and I for one and looking for towards it. A great read for fans of Looney Tunes of any age.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #28

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #28


Scooby-Doo Team-Up is without question my favorite DC book month after month. I love this book because it is great for adults as it is filled with pop culture references that kids will not get but it is also filled with action and slapstick humor the young ones will love. Every issue has the Scooby gang and a new hero guest star, and the hero (or heroes) are the classic, or traditional, versions of the characters, be they DC heroes or classic Hanna-Barbera characters. All the characters act and talk just as you would image if you are a fan of the classic material. The third trade just came out and contains Scooby-Doo Team Up issues #13-17. Written Sholly Fisch and beautifully drawn (mostly) by Dario Brizuela. Some of the guest stars in this volume include Aquaman, Flash(in a great story with Gorilla Grodd), and Shazam; yes, the classic C.C. Beck version of Billy Batson, his sister Mary, and good old Captain Marvel Jr. As I have raved about this book in the past, I am not going to dwell on this newest volume, except to say that I consider all three volumes, and almost 50 single issues they have done so far (It is a digital first title so online there are far more than the print versions so far) some of the best comics published every month, for any age. Now stop reading this blog and go out and buy one of these trades, or all three!

Flintstones

Flintstones


Flintstones was part of DC reimagined versions of the Hanna-Barbera characters, including Scooby Apocalypse, Wacky Raceland, and Future Quest (which was less of a re-imagination, and was much closer to the original concepts than the others). At first I did not care for the Flintstones. I found it to be mean spirited and just not my cup of tea (I did like the original Flintstones comics from Dell, Gold Key, Charlton, and even DC). This “re-imagination” was far from the source material, to me at least. Well, a reader of this blog pointed out to me I was not being fair to the book so I went back and read the first trade collection with the first six issues, and he was right. Brian Juchems, I was wrong and apologize. Writer Mark Russell, along with artist Steve Pugh (whose art I have always liked) grew on me as the book went along. This is not the Flintstones I knew, this is still the Flintstones. Everyone you would expect is there, including Fred, Barney, Wilma, and Betty. The stories are a mix of social commentary and snarky attitude with grew on me as I read the collection. I did not like the first couple of issues, but when re-reading them in this trade I changed my mind and I saw the subtly in the writing and what Russell is trying, and succeeding, to do. There is a lot of social commentary here, as well as a few laughs, and a fair amount of food for thought. I am really glad I went back and read the trade after having given up on the monthly book. There is a second trade coming this fall with issues #7-12.

Wacky Raceland

Wacky Raceland


Wacky Raceland was a six issue miniseries inspired by the classic cartoon, The Wacky Races and the Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Unfortunately it has little to do with the original as it lacks the charm, stupid humor, and slapstick entertainment of the cartoons. Let’s be clear, the cartoons are not great by any stretch of the imagination, but they are mindless fun. This miniseries is by writer Ken Pontac and artist Leonardo Manco. This series was clearly done to capitalize on the popularity of the most recent Mad Max movie, and the Mad Max franchise in general. But even if you are fans of that I would find it hard to think you would enjoy this book. (There was a very good Max Max miniseries by DC a few years ago). My main objection to this series is the “re-imaginations” of these original characters, such as Dick Dastardly, Penelope Pitstop, and Muttley, have little to no resemblance to the original characters. Instead of the slapstick humor and hi-jinks that made the original fun, these races are filled with radioactive mutants, killers of all varieties, and overall sheer mayhem and general unbridled violence. This original series was not about killing or violence, it was about stupidity. I understand DCs attempt to reach out to different audiences and I fully support that, but do it with new ideas and characters. If you want to do nostalgia characters, then do them with the love and respect that is shown in Scooby-Doo Team-Up.

Flintstones and the Jetsons Vol. 1

Flintstones and the Jetsons Vol. 1


Recently, DC released the first volume of the Flintstones and the Jetsons Vol. 1. This trade collects the first six issues of the Flintstones and the Jetsons from the 1990s that ran 21 issues. These are stories with the classic cartoon versions of Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles, and Bamm-Bamm. Plus stories with George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and of course, Astro. These are all fun stories that feel like the source material. They are light hearted and funny while still making fun of modern pop culture, but not in the almost heavy handed way that the current Flintstones book does. What I also really enjoyed about this collection was the wide array of creators, including Mike Carlin, Sam Henderson, Michael Kupperman, and others handing the scripting chores. On the art you had a wide mix from the great Bill Wray to Ivan Brunetti to Stephen DeStefano to Mike DeCarlo and many others. If you are a fan of the classic Flintstones or Jetsons then this book is for you. Not only will you find your favorite families from the Stone Age and the future, but you will also find classic guest stars such as the Great Gazoo!

I truly hope DC continues to mine their vaults of this classic material. I would love to see collection of the early Scooby-Doo comics from DC, as well as from Gold Key, Charlton, Marvel, Archie, Harvey, and Europe. As well as collections of the classic Dell and Gold Key comics of Warner Brothers characters. I do not have any high hopes of seeing any extensive collections of Looney Tunes and Merry Medlodies or any other old stories from the DC vaults, but I can always hope. (Editor’s note: DC did release one volume of this classic material, but it’s long out of print.)

Everything I have written here is my opinion and does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. Have you read any of these modern takes on these classic characters? What do you think? Do you like them more than me? Am I completely off base like I was with the Flintstones? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. I would love to hear from you, ether pro or con. As always…

Thank you.

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