I don't want to grow up, I'm a Scooby Doo kid! I enjoy reading Scooby Doo, Where Are You? It is one of my must-reads, right along with Green Lantern and Aquaman, believe it or not.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You? #20 features the typical two stories. The lead, cover story, "Pepperoni Poltergeist", is set at Shaggy and Scooby's favorite pizza parlor, Sal's. Sal, He's-a Italiano, yes. That comes across pretty clear in writer and artist, Scott Gross story, nicely lettered by Dezi Sienty (he's-a Italiano, too, no?) and colored by Jason Lewis. Shag and Scoob make a habit of eating Sal's place empty - of both food and customers! But he loves them any way. After twenty years of hard work in one location, Sal's got some competition - Dino D'onofrio has opened a pizza parlor right across the street, with the exact same menu and service. Only Dino's serves their ingredients, like their mushrooms (bum, bum, bummmmmmmmm!) from a can! Sal's is all homemade from scratch. Sal tells the Mystery, Inc. gang, that he was cleaning the kitchen one night and was spooked by poltergeist. Competition across the street and a ghost in the kitchen; and now, Sal's seriously considering retirement in Napoli. Daphne tells Sal that if they have a week to work the restaurant they can solve the mystery and unmask the ghost. What could possibly go wrong? The second story, a musical entitled, Scooby Doo, Ghoul's Night at the Opera, is set - where else? - at an opera house. In Seattle. It's told in the old Mad magazine style of musical dialogue. But this is original musical dialogue. It's a little hard to follow, but it is fun. The opera house manager Mr. Fomanini has called Mystery, Inc. to uncover a phantom of the opera. So, once more, with feeling, they search the opera house for clues to ring down the curtain on the final act of the ghoul. They discover that, Rudy, the lead actor was cast in a part that the female lead's boyfriend had auditioned for. It also turns out that Rudy and his co-star, Amara's boyfriend, Devon, are friends. This is the kind of betrayal that could lead to a haunting payback! ...If it weren't for some meddling kids. Scott Gross' art in the first story is only overshadowed by Tim Levins' art in the second. I have to admit I'm biased. I really enjoyed Tim Levins work in Batman: Gotham Adventures. This made me wonder how long it's been since I've seen his work. The only problem I have with either one of the stories is an unfortunate trend I'm noticing in the book. Which is good people doing bad things and having their bad behavior rewarded without consequences. It seems as if Scooby Doo is trying to teach peaceful conflict resolution and rehabilitation through the stories. I'm going to leave it at that. Too much detail might spoil both stories, which are fun to read. The reveal and payoff tend to be quick and sugar-coated. Like, "we've reached the end of our story, so now it's time to reveal who the ghost is" and simply because it is the end, that seems to be the means of the reveal. Quickly, and almost forgettable. Which is a disappointing letdown after very cool set-ups. Especially disappointing in the second story, where the format for the Mystery, Inc. gang is completely different and original. I don't remember seeing a musical episode of Scooby Doo. This one would be pretty entertaining to see animated. Still, Shaggy and Scooby manage to rescue excitement from the jaws of boredom with a large dose of pandemonium. As long as the pair are part of any story equation, it's fun and enjoyable. Just remember, with the two of them, it's all a no-brainer!