Bat-Snacks: The History of Batman and Mystery, Inc. by Jerry Whitworth
On March 27th, the first digital chapters of Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries will begin being released teaming the Dark Knight and Mystery, Inc. The two entities have a history of teaming together dating back nearly five decades beginning in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. A team up series that saw the likes of the Addams Family, Harlem Globetrotters, Three Stooges, and Laurel and Hardy crossing over with Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo, the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin appeared for two episodes to help combat the Joker and the Penguin. The appearances were viewed as something of a pilot for Filmation losing the DC Comics license to Hanna-Barbera making way for the failed first season of Super Friends. While Filmation focused on action for its adaptation, Super Friends followed a tone much more in line with Scooby-Doo avoiding violence and went so far as to feature an intelligent canine named Wonder Dog and teenagers Wendy Harris and Marvin White. The series lasted one season but returned a few years later to coincide with the success of the Wonder Woman television series (sans Wonder Dog). It took nearly four decades for Batman and Scooby-Doo to again cross paths.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a unique entry in the Batman mythos returning to a more kid-friendly format with a Caped Crusader inspired by the Batman television series. Like New Scooby-Doo Movies, Brave and the Bold was a team-up series but it predominantly featured DC superheroes. Two episodes strayed from that format by instead using Hanna-Barbera characters in Space Ghost and Mystery, Inc., respectively. For the latter, the Dark Knight joined Scooby and the gang to rescue Weird Al Yankovic from the Joker and the Penguin. The Batman series ended in 2011 but returned in 2018 for the direct-to-video animated film Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Proving themselves to be brilliant detectives, Batman inducted Mystery, Inc. into the Mystery Analysts of Gotham, putting them alongside the likes of Martian Manhunter, Detective Chimp, Question, Black Canary, and Plastic Man (with Aquaman inserting himself into the story). The occasion was interrupted by a scheme enacted by the Riddler and Clayface who the heroes teamed to take down. Worlds converged in 2013 when Scooby-Doo returned to the printed page for a new series of crossovers.
From the minds of Sholly Fisch, Dario Brizuela, and Scott Jeralds, Scooby-Doo! Team-Up was an ongoing comic book series featuring Mystery, Inc. combining forces with various characters in a multitude of adventures. Published by DC Comics, the first three issues saw the teens join up with Batman and Robin against foes such as Man-Bat, Scarecrow, Spook, and False Face. The second issue “Who’s Scared?” introduced the concept of the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City while the next issue debuted a Scooby-Doo variant of the Fifth-Dimensional imp Bat-Mite in Scooby-Mite. The subsequent issue saw Mystery, Inc. crossover with the animated Teen Titans (including Robin) and two issues later the Super Friends (including Batman and Robin) against the Legion of Doom. Across fifty issues over six years, Batman and/or his cast appeared in a dozen entries including Ace the Bat-Hound, Batgirl, Deadman, Zatanna, Black Canary, Huntress, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Joker, and the Penguin. The series’ final issue was a love letter to many popular iterations of Mystery, Inc. brought about by a returning Bat-Mite and Scooby-Mite with Batman and Robin guest-starring. The same year Scooby-Doo! Team-Up ended, an animated series in the same vein debuted.
Borrowing elements from The New Scooby-Doo Movies and Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? premiered on the streaming service Boomerang in 2019. Featuring celebrities like Weird Al Yankovic and Mark Hamill, Hanna-Barbera characters like Funky Phantom and Magilla Gorilla, and superheroes like Wonder Woman and the Flash, the first mid-season finale starred Batman as he joined Mystery, Inc. to take on the Joker (playing the part of Man-Bat). In this instance of the characters, Batman: The Animated Series voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returned to portray their respective iconic characters. The upcoming Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries will solve the mystery of what became of Batman’s purple gloves and reveal if a ghost is haunting the Batcave. But before we leave this subject, we would be remiss if we did not mention the Blue Falcon.
1976 saw Hanna-Barbera develop their own parody of Batman in Blue Falcon, a character introduced in Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. Borrowing from the Batman television series, Dynomutt featured wealthy art dealer Radley Crown as Blue Falcon who, along with his mechanical dog Dynomutt, fought the criminals of Big City. Fishface, Gimmick, Lowbrow, Queen Hornet, Superthug, and the Worm counted among his rogues and whom banded together as the Injustice League of America (predating the DC Comics group of the same name by thirteen years). The series was a companion to The Scooby-Doo Show and often saw Mystery, Inc. guest-star. The series lasted two seasons as Blue Falcon and Dynomutt transitioned to the subsequent show Laff-A-Lympics as part of the Scooby Doobies for its two seasons. In the ensuing years, they appeared in Dexter’s Laboratory, Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon (2013), Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, and Scoob! (2020). Blue Falcon came full circle in 2018 for the Super Sons/Dynomutt and Blue Falcon Special one-shot where he was revealed to have been recruited to be part of Batman Incorporated, an international organization of vigilantes financed by Batman.