Retro Review: The Curse Of Wrangler Field

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The Gang is invited to a Chi-Town Sharks Baseball game by star player Mark McSosa, who hits a home run, winning the game, and sending the Sharks to the play-offs for the first time since 1945.
Our heroes meet up with the MVP after the game and he explains why he invited them.

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Art: Joe Staton
As I have said many times about Staton, when he takes his time, he does pretty damn good work (a few of the wide shots in here are very pleasing to the eye), but when he’s rushed (as seemed the case here)? Oh boy!

For instance, the owner of the Sharks is sloppy as hell. She looks like she competes in the world’s strongest man contest, just a short wide mass of muscle on top of muscle with a hair and pant suit seemingly just to make it a quick and fast to draw. Quite often he also does the blank single color background that you all know I despise. On the plus side, there is a great hallway gag near the end that helps save it from being completely horrible.

Story: Joe Edkin
McSosa tells Mystery Inc all about the curse placed on the team in ’45 by their biggest fan, one George Delbert, when he wasn’t allowed to bring his boar Eullabelle into the stadium. Basically a straight up rip-off of the “Curse” on the Cubs. It’s been rumored recently that the ghost of the boar has been appearing and spooking the organization…with the exception of team owner Midge Shaft.

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From her introduction, Midge is flat out foul to be around, trash talking her team and their chances of winning to their faces. She leaves to count receipts, while Shaggy and Scooby have their first encounter with the vengeful swine on the field which leads to the duo being used as live bait.

If it feels like I’m just trying to burn through this, I’m not. There is little superfluity here, the pace is really snappy.

Velma spots some tire tracks that Midge explains away as evidence of the grass having been cut before the game, then she grumps away again. Ready to play the bait and dresses in player gear, Velma chucks Shag and Scoob snacks and the porcine poltergeist attacks again. Our duo runs away and, after some bumbling, the apparition disappears. Following that, the team finds out the ghost is actually real and a player threatens to quit. The Gang talks him down and forms a new plan.

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So, Scooby and Shaggy pose as players to practice with the team when the banshee boar comes on to the field and chases the twosome into the locker room, which gives us that great hallway gag in the lockers. The frightened pair run into the showers, and into the Gang’s waiting trap.

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I wanna say upfront that I actually used to like this story, but now?
Ruh-oh! Buckle up folks.

Chronologically speaking, this is probably the first Scooby comic story I’d read, just not in the original issue it was published in. Yikes, where do I start? Do I begin with the obvious villian, the pacing, how angry a couple of folks seem, or do I mention the whole 20 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag thing that’s happening here?

Pacing it is!
Holy home runs, Batman! This thing moves so fast it feels like all 10 pages happen in about 6 minutes or so. To further drive the point home, do you remember when you were little and you hung out with that hyper kid that would grab 2 toys and be all “and then this happens and this happens and this and THIS AND THIS AND THIS!!!” and he would work himself into a red faced frenzy to such a degree that you expected him to start slobbering and turn into the Tasmanian Devil and wreck the joint? While a little over the top, that’s sorta how this feels. Usually in comics you get some indication that time has passed, normally with a little “later” or “the next day” box, here there’s none of that. Without it, one scene just dove tails into the next illogically. Even Midge’s dialogue about the grass being mowed before the game suggests that it’s still the same day the big game.

Now, I don’t know much about nor do I really even like baseball, but being from a city like St. Louis where they beat you over the head with the game, I know for a fact that if a team wins an important game like this they don’t immediately start practicing after the game, not even in 1999 when this was first published. There’s usually booze involved, so even as a kid I knew this was a bit nonsensical.

And that leads me to all that’s jammed in here.
The last few issues I was able to read of the current main title were pretty damn thin on the story front, just not much there or going on. To put it plainly, the exact opposite of this.
This has so many word balloons per page that it’s kind of crazy. It feels like it was shorted by at least 2 or 3 pages.

It’s really hard for me to actually call it a problem when, in my experience, the stories have historically been rather slow and stretched, but when the fixes are so easy and obvious to make, I kind of have to.
It is a tough balancing act that’s rarely pulled off well, though the last 3 stories nailed it.
Fred, Daphne, and Velma turn the showers on and fry the electronics in guess who’s “automatic lawn mower”? It’s the angry, “called it when she showed up and not because I read this story 15 years ago in the Spooky Summer Special one-shot issue”, team owner Midge. His team were losers for so long that she’d actually pulled a Pete Rose and bet on the games.

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The cops rush her away and McSosa gives the gang tickets to the playoffs and all the food they can eat, all off panel I should add. It was painfully obvious that Midge was the villain from her first appearance because she’s just so bloody unlikable, and I HATE obvious villains. Making your baddies so blatantly obvious takes half of the fun out of watching or reading a Scooby-Doo story…see Curse Of The Lake Monster and The Creeping Creatures for proof. How openly hostile she was with, and about, her team telegraphed her role in the story, and leads me to my final point.

There is A LOT of grumpiness in this story, mostly due to Edkin’s script, specifically Midge and her attitude, which I’ve documented well. But the other scene that bugs me is the 2 panel flashback and Staton’s handling of it. In the first panel, the dude at the ticket gate seems confused and sympathetic, but in the next? Ticket boy looks about ready to rip Delbert’s head off. It feels like something is missing, the turn is too quick. Again, it really think this story would benefit from another page…or three…to stretch
out and give this story time to build to things.

Overall: As it is, it just feels rushed and sloppy. This is by far my least favorite story of this volume so far.
After how good those 1st 3 stories were, it makes the fall hurt even more. Just a mess.
Don’t feel bad about skipping this story.

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  1. // Reply

    Interesting.

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