Last week came the surprising news—from DC Comics heads Dan DiDio and Jim Lee no less—that DC Comics will be rebooting Hanna-Barbera characters in comic form. Hanna-Barbera, like DC Comics, is owned by the Time Warner media empire.
The reboot focuses on making a handful of characters more contemporary. The characters/books include:
- Scooby Apocalypse. The Scooby-Doo gang are now fighting monsters (or somesuch) in a post-apocalyptic-ish environment. From the promotional artwork, Fred sports tattoos, Velma looks like she’s shrunk for some reason (or just the art style/perspective), and Shaggy looks like he’d live in a trendy west coast neighborhood.
- The Flintstones. The modern Stone-Age family’s now drawn more realistically, which reminds me of the movie tie-in comics from the 90s. The title’s supposed to reflect its primetime, all ages (including adult) appeal, while modernizing the characters.
- Wacky Raceland. “Wacky Races” is being re-imagined as a mix between that and “Mad Max.” This is to the point they hired the designer from “Max Max: Fury Road” (Mark Sexton) to work on the book.
- Future Quest. A comic title that promises to update the various classic Hanna-Barbera action/adventure heroes, but mainly Space Ghost and Jonny Quest. From the artwork, they seem to be the least changed, however. The book also promises other characters such as Frankenstein Jr., the Impossibles, and the Herculoids.
I have mixed feelings about this reboot. On the positive sides, it’s good to see Time Warner making use of Hanna-Barbera characters that aren’t “Scooby-Doo” or “Tom and Jerry.” The former I do like, but I’ve been hoping to see the other classic characters given more attention. The creators on the books (such as Amanda Connor on “The Flintstones”) also sounds promising. The shows chosen for a comic reboot are also favorites of mine, particularly “The Flintstones,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Wacky Races.” It also gets the classic characters in front of new audiences who might not be exposed to them otherwise. Good luck finding Boomerang on your cable company’s lineup in half the country (especially on Comcast).
On the other hand, this reboot looks like it’s aimed mainly at older audiences, rather than getting kids interested in both the characters and buying comics. I’m not the one who needs to be be interested in these characters—it’s my younger nieces. And given DC’s regular superhero lineup is already kid-unfriendly (and poorly selling), continuing along that path doesn’t help. Looking at some of the Scooby-Doo TV revivals (“Zombie Island,” “What’s New Scooby-Doo?,” even “Mystery, Incorporated”—though I wasn’t big on “Incorporated”) might serve as a model for how to revive the other HB characters.
There’s also that aspects of some of the revamps look a bit forced, especially the Scooby-Doo one. I’m already seeing “hipster Shaggy” tossed about heavily as a term on Twitter. Finally, these days I’m less than excited about seeing the words “reboot” and “DC Comics” in the same sentence, whether it’s Superman or Dick Dastardly.
Still, I hope the revamp works out for the best for all characters and parties involved. Of course, if one wants to see the Hanna-Barbera characters in a style that’s well done, but more traditional, I’d highly suggest “Scooby-Doo Team-Up,” a comic that sees the mystery solvers team up with various DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera characters.