On Scooby Doo and Wonder Woman

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Like a lot of American kids, I grew up on a steady diet of Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons. I plunked myself down in front of the tv for hours, lost in the adventures of He-Man and She-Ra, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Tarzan and Isis and Aquaman. And, of course, Scooby and the gang.

In hindsight, I can’t really tell you what I thought of the cartoon. I vaguely remember wishing at one point that I was Daphne; and I thought the celebrity guest appearances were fun, though I only had the vaguest idea as to the identity of the Harlem Globetrotters. As I got older, I found the chase sequences increasingly silly — and I was terribly disappointed that none of the monsters were ever real.

Cartoons have remained part of my television diet well into adulthood, but Scooby-Doo fell by the wayside. That is until my husband stumbled across a animated feature film on The Cartoon Network which included — surprise! — real magic and real werewolves. We spent a couple of hours happily reliving our childhood over homemade pizza and cookies while the Scoobies ran around and built ridiculous traps.

Interest piqued, I kept an eye out for new Scooby projects. I was delighted when I found an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up* guest-starring Wonder Woman.

As written by Sholly Fisch, with art by Dario Brizuela and Franco Riesco and lettering by Saida Temofonte, the story is quick, fun, and (for a polytheist) deeply satisfying. Mythological monsters have been randomly appearing on Themiscyra; they have attacked the Amazons, and then just disappeared without a trace. The Amazons are baffled. Since no man may set foot on the island without violating Aphrodite’s Law, and thereby stripping the Amazons of their immortality, Batman recommends that they call in two female detectives to investigate. Thus, Daphne and Velma take center stage.

I really like the relationship between Wonder Woman and Daphne and Velma. It is one of respect and mutual admiration. Wonder Woman may be a super-powered warrior princess, but she is strong enough to admit when she needs help, and she acknowledges the value of Daphne and Velma’s different skill set. Daphne and Velma, in turn, are thrilled to be training alongside the Amazons, and honored that a great woman such as the Princess of Themiscyra would ask for their assistance.

Even better is the depiction of Amazonian society. When Velma wonders why Amazons, who are dedicated to peace and understanding, would be engaging in war games, Wonder Woman explains:

“… the Amazon philosophy is to develop every aspect of our potential, and achieve all that we can — mentally, spiritually, and physically. Besides, when you face a foe who is less … spiritually advanced, the physical side can be useful.”

The women of Themiscyra are also polytheists, through and through. The very real existence of Goddesses and Gods and spirits and monsters permeates every level of their culture. Goddesses brought them to life, and the blessing of one particular Goddess keeps their island home safe. Expressions such as “Hera give me strength!” and “May the blessings of Hera accompany you on your journeys” pepper their speech; even Scooby gets into the groove, at one point exclaiming “Rufferin’ Raphro!” For perhaps the clearest example of their native, heartfelt polytheism, consider this exchange when Queen Hippolyta says that the Minotaur could not have attacked the Amazons:

Queen Hippolyta: … the Minotaur remains a prisoner of the Greek Gods — trapped in its labyrinth as it has been for centuries. How could it be here as well?

Velma: Excuse me, Queen Hippolyta — but how do you know the Minotaur is still a prisoner of the Gods?

Queen Hippolyta: I asked them.

Such a positive portrayal of polytheism in mainstream children’s literature is a rare treat. Hopefully this will not be the only time Daphne and Velma pay a visit to Paradise Island; the more kids are exposed to the old myths and Goddesses and Gods, the better.

 

*Please note that the print and digital edition numbers are different. The print issue is #5, while the story is split between digital editions #9 and #10. The print issue is $2.99, and is available at most comic shops and bookstores, as well as online. The digital editions are .99 cents each, and are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.

[Originally published here.]

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