Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett discusses the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Vampirella, Ghostbusters 101, and offers more thoughts on DC Superhero Girls.

I’m as anxious as anyone, and maybe more, to put 2016 in my rearview mirror, but naturally I find that there are a few bits of old business that I want to address before plunging into 2017...

The superhero-themed Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, broke rating records, becoming the most-watched show for BBC America.  Clearly a love letter to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, I liked it more than some of the previous specials, not just because of the content, but for two seemingly paradoxical reasons.  Along with having a somewhat reduced role, The Doctor was also far less of the brittle grump he’s been ever since he regenerated; when a boy mistakes him for Santa, instead of being outraged he just rolls with it.  The second is because it was far less "Christmas-y" than usual, which I know sounds like it should be a defect for a Christmas Special, but the last couple of the Doctor Whos have been a bit over the top with the treacle* (the British term for cloying sentimentality).

Back in 2015, Dynamite Entertainment gave Vampirella, along with many of their other female characters, a wardrobe refresher (see "Dynamite Reboots Female Characters").  Then she traded in her traditional stripperware for a vaguely Renfest/Goth /Sexy Halloween costume outfit. In other words, the sort of thing you’d expect to a Zenescope Comic heroine to wear, if with a bit more material.  Apparently, this outfit wasn’t a crowd pleaser, because Dynamite has once again gone back to the drawing board.  According to "'A Fun, Serious, Arty, Trashy New Continuation of Vampirella That's Not A Reboot’--Cornell and Broxton Talk Vampirella" which ran on Bleeding Cool, her newest look consists of another new hairdo, what could either be a very short dress or a man’s oversized V-neck shirt, full-length gloves and a pair of kicky boots. Other than making her completely unrecognizable, it seems to me to be mostly a lateral move.

One of the hallmarks of being me is I always seem to find something else to say on a subject after I think I've finished writing about it.  For instance last week (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Sadly, This Is How The Old Year Passes"), I wrote about Harley Quinn’s highly improbable inclusion in the DC Comics Superhero Girls brand. But what I found even more incongruous was the presence of the villains Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Cheetah and Killer Frost (who’s been downgraded to just "Frost").

But the strangest thing about the inclusion of Killer Frost was if DC wanted an ice-based character, they already had someone who wasn’t a cold-blooded killer: Ice, created by Keith Giffen, DeMatteis and J.M. Kevin Maguire for Justice League International #12.  Along with having the approximate powers of Elsa the Ice Queen from Disney’s Frozen, she comes with the critical advantage of not only being a Princess, but one from an "isolated tribe of magic-wielding Norsemen."  You also get some of the appeal of How To Train Your Dragon franchise, which seem like a lot of concentrated girl appeal to me, but what do I know?

I’ve been frankly confused by publisher IDW’s reticence to do tie-in titles for the recent Ghostbusters movie.  I have to assume they were either (a) contractually unable to do so or (b) Columbia Pictures didn’t want there to be any, believing the movie needed no promotion in the direct sales market.  Or there's always (c) they thought there wouldn't be any interest in comics featuring "Girl Ghostbusters."  While crossover comics generally leave me cold these days, I am keen to see the classic and contemporary Ghostbuster squads team up, as they do in the upcoming Ghostbusters 101.

And while we’re on the subject, I recently saw 2016’s Ghostbusters a second time and while I still thought it a very good movie, I did come away with a better appreciation for those that didn't care for it.  While it had plenty of stunts and special effects, what it didn't have was the noise, broad laughs and frantic pace we've come to expect from big summer blockbuster movies.  It moves leisurely and deliberately, with the comedy kept mostly on the quiet side.  Not to mention there's a concern for human feelings which might have put off some people.  In short, it just wasn't the movie they came to see.

*As the stereotype goes, Americans are supposed to get all maudlin over the holidays, but I’ve found even the most cynical and unsentimental of Britons become reflexively sappy come Christmas time.  Which is probably best expressed with their national obsession over which Christmas commercial makes them sob the most.  A recent American example of this phenomenon being the tear-provoking "Frankie Holiday" spot from Apple featuring actor Brad Garrett as The Frankenstein Monster.