There are few properties from the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons that have fared as well as Scooby-Doo has over the last decade or so. The Scoobaissance has quietly been in effect since around 2010, when the superior Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated (objectively, the greatest of all Scooby-Doo cartoons) began its triumphant 52 episode run. While the Scooby gang’s animated adventures have had their ups and downs since then (and make no mistake, Mystery Incorporated will never be matched), Scooby has continued his alpha dominance of the mystery-solving canine detective genre in other areas, notably comics.
For one thing, there’s the better than it has any right to be Scooby Apocalypse, a slightly more (ahem) modern take on the Scooby mythos, putting the gang in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi scenario where the monsters are quite real. And while my initial skepticism of Scooby Apocalypse turned out to be completely unjustified, it’s not the best of his printed adventures. That honor goes to Scooby-Doo Team-Up, which each month pairs the gang with other DC Comics characters. And the first issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up featured none other than Batman.
See? I (eventually) get to the point.
Just as Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated was the greatest of all Scooby shows, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is one of the greatest animated series to feature the Caped Crusader. And because Brave and the Bold was a team up show, it got around to vast swaths of the DC Universe, with exceptional focus on obscure characters, all done with one eye on the 1966 Batman TV series, another on the comic art of Dick Sprang, and with no time whatsoever for the work of Frank Miller, Christopher Nolan, or the countless writers, artists, and directors who have missed the point of their work entirely. It was 65 episodes of pure, retro joy.
So now, let’s take the wacky theme of the Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic and marry it to the first new Batman: The Brave and the Bold content we’ve had in six years with Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the latest DC animated offering from Warner Bros. Animation. Pairing the Dark Knight Detective with everyone’s favorite teen mystery solvers would be enough, especially since it isn’t the first time its happened (the physical release comes with two vintage episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which featured guest appearances from Batman and Robin). But in true Brave and the Bold style, this one goes the extra mile bringing John DiMaggio’s brilliant Aquaman along for the ride, plus Jeffrey Combs as the Question, and Tom Kenny as Plastic Man for good measure, not to mention appearances from the Martian Manhunter and dozens (and I do mean dozens of Gotham City’s worst villains).
At 75 minutes, it’s a little longer than it needs to be, and I think this story would have been a perfect two-parter were Brave and the Bold still in the business of episodic TV. There’s so much going on in the final 15 minutes or so that even one of the heroes feels obliged to comment on the ridiculousness of it all. But that’s all pretty easy to excuse when the rest of the adventure is so genuinely funny, and made with such obvious love both for the wider Scooby mythos and the DC Universe. There’s one particular chase scene that’s so perfect that all it lacked was some kind of bonkers Monkees-esque tune to complete the picture. And just as Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a distant, spiritual cousin to the Batman ’66 TV series, Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold is about as sharp as the recent animated movies Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face.
Along the way, you’ll get taken to parts of Arkham Asylum you never thought you’d see, see some DC-centric spins on classic Scooby-Doo gags, and get an extra nod to Batman’s earliest 1939 comic look. With DC Comics currently using assorted Hanna-Barbera properties in creative ways on the page, it would be easy to imagine Batman: The Brave and the Bold having a long second life with these direct to video movies reintroducing other classic animated properties. But if they wanted to just start with more Scooby-Doo and Batman adventures, I’d be fine with that, too.
Scooby-Doo and Batman: The Brave and the Bold is available now on DVD.