Review: The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #2.3

“Night of the Owlful Party”
Writer: Matthew Cody
Artist: Erich Owen

Color Artist: Erich Owen
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Review by Lauren Fiske

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I’m glad to finish out my reviews for the year with The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #2.3. This one won’t ever be a favorite of mine, but more Scooby-Doo content is always welcome in my book!

This issue finally gave me something I’ve been asking for, if not in the way I’d expected. We’re also introduced to a new-to-this-series writer, Matthew Cody, in this issue. This one was fairly ambitious, so let’s dig in

Spoilers ahead, beware! Catch up on the previous issue here.

Double Team

This is the first issue of the series which has one of the main members of the creative team handling two jobs. Erich Owen worked on The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #2.3 as both the line and color artist. This wouldn’t necessarily be of note, except that I had an issue with some of Owen’s choices. His colors were on point for the most part (I’m trying not to let inconsistent eye coloring get to me) and looked great, especially in flashback panels featuring the Court of Owls. However, I found Owen’s artistic choices a bit rougher.

Evident even in the cover art, Owen’s drawing style is more sketch-like. The line work is less consistent in its thickness. This makes the art look dissimilar from previous issues. This isn’t inherently bad, but the drawing style that other artists’ had previously set up for the series had established a particular tone and feeling reminiscent of the old Scooby-Doo cartoons. The particular art used here just doesn’t feel quite right and is too detailed in many aspects to convey the scenes succinctly.

Also of note are Owen’s choices on how to show motion. Many of the panels (particularly one of Daphne’s friend Bibi) look like they’re ripped directly from the frames of a cartoon. Again, this isn’t inherently bad, but comics are somewhat static. Putting too much motion into the characters looks out of place and awkward. The characters look slightly off-kilter and it’s just… weird.

Maybe Owen was overworked in this issue and just went with what he knew, I don’t know and can’t really say, but the art messed with my overall impression of the story.

Birthday Girl Bibi

Anyone who’s read my reviews knows that I have wanted more inclusion of Scooby-Doo characters in this series. This issue finally introduced us to one while still having enough Batman context for a proper little crossover. There’s just one problem though. Who is Bibi?

In one panel, Daphne tells us that Bibi is an old friend (her former BFF) from her cheerleading days. This raises multiple questions for me. First off, Daphne was a cheerleader. Has this ever been established before in any Scooby-Doo canon? Secondly, according to some versions of Scooby-Doo, Mystery Inc. had been friends or working together to solve crimes since their childhood. I suppose the group could have other friends beyond the core members, but that leads me to my third question.

Where did Bibi come from? A basic Google search pulls up nothing, meaning that Bibi was made up for this issue. The Mystery Gang has worked with various other people over the years, with many being introduced for one-off appearances. These characters sometimes have precedent or fuller explanations as to who they are in relation to the gang, but that’s kind of lacking here. Also, if Daphne had known Bibi since her cheerleading days, wouldn’t those be now since previous issues established that the members of Mystery Inc. are still teens?

I’m just kind of disappointed. We’ve been waiting, and I’ve been hoping, for more Scooby-Doo inclusion in The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries and this wasn’t a true delivery on that. Introducing and forcibly connecting a new character to the Mystery Gang isn’t the same as bringing back an old Scooby-Doo nemesis or friend that fans might know and love.

Hoot Hoot

One thing we do know about Bibi is that her family’s connected to the Owl Court Hotel and therefore, the Court of Owls. I’d never heard of these Batman villains before reading this issue, but the idea’s intriguing. I’ve since learned that this nefarious group is a really big deal and that they’re much tamer in this iteration than their appearances in Batman comics… but it’s interesting to think about.

The Court of Owl’s agent, the Talon, appears to be an immortal miscreant whose service has extended across decades. The identity of the Court of Owls and the Talon turns out to be disappointingly obvious, sadly. However, I love the idea of a bat and an owl facing off. Each one a terror of the night in their own way, the opposition of such conceptually similar but anatomically different creatures is just wicked fun.

Conclusion

The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #2.3 seemed like it tried to do too much with too little. I did enjoy this issue passively, but I’ve got to be at least a little bit critical of how it turned out.  However, I feel that Matthew Cody did a decent job writing the series for the first time. My main frustrations lie with the art and the false inclusion of Scooby-Doo characters.

Overall, this issue was fine. It’s not stellar, won’t break records, or make history, but we’ve got another mystery solved by Batman and Mystery Inc. and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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