CAPTAIN AMERICA – STEVE ROGERS / SCOOBY APOCALYPSE / NIGHTHAWK / FEAR & LOATHING in LAS VEGAS [Reviews]: Hail…
#HailHydra… By now, you’re either living under a rock outside of a K-Mart with no Wi-Fi or you’re like every other superhero-loving geek on the planet with an opinion, and know what happens on the last page of this comic. It’s pretty damn bizarre. With that said, I’ve always been a huge fan of superhero tales with a different spin (i.e. Bucky Cap, Dick Grayson Batman, female Thor, etc.)–you know, if they’re done well. I’m not going to sit here and argue with all the “keyboard criminals” out there making life-ending threats to writer Nick Spencer (Captain America: Sam Wilson), because this is a god-damned comic book. Get a life, people (says the guy who posts “geek”-related items on his Facebook timeline all day…)!!!
Even if something is stupid and/or illogical (which at first glance, this character change is), or poorly plotted/structured (arguably the case here, since this #1 “jumping-on point” depends entirely on the fallout of the recent Avengers: Standoff – Assault on Pleasant Hill crossover–a crossover which most dweebs angry at Captain Hydra most certainly did not read). The majority of the book is exposition, re-Cap-ping Pleasant Hill (the Cosmic Cube, Kobik) and everything else goin’ on with Steve (the whole Old Man Rogers thing). Appearances by Free Spirit, Rick Jones, and Jack Flag will either spice up your world like it’s 1999, or just annoy fans of the darker, Winter Soldier world of Brubaker. But even with the pretty pencils of Jesus Saiz, none of the rest will matter to you. Not the well-written romance between Steve and Sharon; not Spencer’s admirable “background check” into a particular Hydra agent. Nope. Just this newly refreshed Steve with a new–albeit secret–identity, one many have dreaded (for over 75-years) would happen. 3.75/5 Donald Trumps.
Scoob and the Gang, as we know it, are no more. Everything we’ve known about Mystery Inc. since the 60s… gone. And I’m okay with that. Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised than ME to admit this: I liked the first issue to the very non-cannon story that introduces the former Coolsville gang as strangers, rather than life-long childhood friends. When DC announced that they were teaming up with Hanna Barbera for a rebirth of their very own involving classic characters, I was frothing with excitement. I can never have enough Scooby-Doo! And, yes, there are already a few Scooby titles on the market, but Scooby Apocalypse #1 is JIM LEE conceptualized Scoobs. So here we go…
As are all #1’s, this is an introduction issue and it takes great care in easing us into the fact that this NOT our childhood Scooby. There are quite a few nods to the original cartoon series and even some cannon animated movies drops (i.e. having “Daphne’s Mysterious Mysteries” TV show be the basis for Daph and her cameraman, Fred, meeting with Dr. Velma Dinkley, who has decided to blow the cover on a nanonite experiment gone wrong at her super secret lab). We learn that our beloved Scooby-Doo–who, at one point, has a near death experience from the other lab bred dogs–is a failed experiment at Velma’s lab (hence his toddler talking ability). Staying with me here? Okay. Enter Norville “Shaggy” Rogers as a dog trainer hired to work with the specimens and, thus, begin his friendship with his bestest buddy old pal, Scoob.
If any of this sounds assbackwards to you, it is. Obviously, it wouldn’t be exactly like the previous tales of Mystery Inc.; but I had hoped that certain things would have remained intact, such as the bond Shaggy and Scooby had while Shaggy was young. Now, despite all the heated discussion surrounding the revamp of another franchise, I did my best to stay away from leaks, spoilers or plots and went into this book, empty headed. Good thing too! What I enjoyed most about the writing of Keith Giffen (Annihilation) and J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League 3000) is that despite liberties taken, the story doesn’t stray from the traditional flow of the gang’s conversation or inner monologues. The interaction between the not-so-young kinds are embraced by familiar spirits. Howard Porter‘s linework does it’s best to keep up with the conjured story and mostly succeeds in giving us a new design to a perfectly old one that didn’t need it.
When I say that I liked it, I mean that I like it as part of a multiverse setting, and that’s sort of where I placed this title. It’s terrible as an addition to the already adorable cannon that we know, but separately and far far far away on it’s own… it works. Old school fans will probably be left wondering as I did, “WTF? Did I like this?” and eventually get to a point of tolerance and smile at the thought of a multiverse or alternate Coolsville. 3/5 Scooby Snacks.
The city of Chicago has seen better days. “The Windy City” has become a post-apocalyptic warzone plagued with corruption, injustice and racial tension. Now this could be because of the aftermath of the Secret Wars (Dr. Doom playing a petty version of God), or it could be the work of the evils of gentrification. Either way, one man has enough money to battle crime and corruption in Chicago. .. Kanye… (oh shit–wrong review) … Raymond Kane suits up as the vigilante Nighthawk hated by criminals and police. Meanwhile, there is a serial killer out there looking to “Reveal” the truth behind Chicago’s Elite and Powerful, and NightHawk is nowhere closer to catching this crazy than the police are.
Writer David F. Walker (Power-Man & Iron Fist) really gets you into the story with this first issue. Every page is an addiction, when you combine Nighthawk’s menacing spirit coupled with Ramon Villalobos‘s gritty art style (known for Grant Morrison’s famous X-Men run in the early 2000s) that’s also one still fun and flowing. As you read this ish, you’ll likely catch the feeling of your usually super dope Netflix Marvel original. Let’s consider it! 4/5 Bibles.
Look. I’m obsessed with Hunter S. Thompson. I’ve read all his books. I own Where the Buffalo Roam on VHS. I have a Gonzo dagger tattoo. I was first exposed to — neigh, first confronted with — Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas when I was an impressionable young writing student and was still able to appreciate it for its craft, genuinely; before I got too deep into cocaine and booze and appreciated only through a high. I don’t do drugs anymore. I’m old. 36 this year. I have a real job, and a wife. I’ve reached an age where I can’t possibly be psyched about everything I like. I’ve reached an age where the things I loved from a previous time of my life haven’t aged well. Also, time is precious. And so I always ask myself when I encounter something, “Do I need this?” Troy Little (Powerpuff Girls) is maybe a bigger Hunter S. Thompson devotee than I am, and he and IDW seemed to do some real comprehensive work in bringing Thompson’s hallucinatory road trip epic to the pages of a graphic novel. And so I won’t give short shrift to the work they’ve all done here.
But I think it’s always a tricky thing — adaptation. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, the book, is unforgettable. It left an indelible mark that can never be confused with anything else from that time, due both Thompson’s wild-hearted voice, and let’s not forget, illustrator Ralph Steadman’s sketches; a singular and almost perfectly paired vision of the tale. Then the subsequent film: who could argue with it? This comic is enjoyable — it’s enjoyable to relive the sinister and almost suicidal comedy of that journey. The black and white palate is suitable, and although perhaps adds little, it takes away nothing. And as far as the art goes, it’s fun. A little juvenile, perhaps. But fun. However. I sit here. Almost 36-years old. Tired from another long week of work, and without the benefit of few bumps of coke to get me through. And I wonder: “Do I need this?” 3/5 Bibles.