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 looks at a new custom comic and an IDW crossover with potential.

As evidence that I can leave no subject alone, I once again touched on Superman's new outfit  (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Let Superman Be Superman").  One big disadvantage to the "new look" that I don’t think Time-Warner quite understands is that they've traded something so simple any child could duplicate it in a matter of moments for something so unnecessarily hyper-detailed even some professional artists have trouble pulling off.  I refer specifically to the cover of Superman Annual #1.  Considering the vast amount of money riding on this "new look, what with the Man of Steel movie in the pipeline, this is indeed a big deal.

Then last week I saw pages from Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves the Justice League, and not only did a custom comic for a power tool absolutely nail Superman's steampunk Victorian NASCAR space suit they also got his new overly complicated hairdo right.  Heck, the comic got the whole "new look" Justice League right, except of course for Wonder Woman who is shown wearing her made-for-a-failed-TV-pilot pants.  But that's another story.

Let's face it, it's fun as well as darn easy to make fun of custom comics, especially ones like this which doesn't even try to deliver some sort of well meaning public service message.  As with those DC/Subway comics from a while ago, this comic exists solely to shill for a product.  On the other hand comics like these have enormous print runs and get into the hands of people who would never ordinarily even think about reading a comic.  So it's undoubtedly for the good that it's also a pretty good comic.

Written by Joshua Washington and Christian Duce it's very much a (no offense) old fashioned kind of JLA story that manages to squeeze in a proper slugfest with The Royal Flush Gang and the Grant Morrison version of The Key.  Of course it also includes the first appearance of  Craftsman's own superhero The Technician (I suppose just calling him "Craftsman" would have been a little too on the nose).  It would also be plenty easy to make fun of him but I've always liked the idea that super-teams that had support crews instead of pretending the Justice League had a chore wheel.

Copies of it are being given away at the Craftsman booth at New York Comic Con but it's now available online at the Craftsman website as well as DC's and if you’ve got a spare two minutes today you really might want to give it a look.  Honestly, I wish DC published a comic that looked and read like this every month, something that straddled the regular DC titles and the Johnny DC line, that might actually appeal to the people who’ve read Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves the Justice League.

Back in the go-go 90's when the crossover was king it sure seemed like everybody had met everybody else.  But every once in awhile a publisher manages to find a couple of characters who never got introduced, like, Dynamite Entertainment recently decided, "Hey, Barnabas Collins is a vampire, so is Vampirella, I bet they’d have lots to talk about," when of course nothing could be further from the truth.  Being a proper gentlemen Barnabas would have a lot of trouble even looking at Vampirella, yet we still got a comic called Dark Shadows / Vampirella.

That being said, I have to admit there is one upcoming crossover from IDW Publishing I am looking forward to; Mars Attacks Popeye, a one shot due out in January.  Popeye is a character that is notoriously difficult to get right, but it's being written by Martin Powell and drawn by Terry Beatty, two people who know and love The Sailor Man well.  This of course isn't Popeye's first contact with Martians; he battled them before in the 1946 Famous Studio cartoon Rocket to Mars.  But I can't wait to see him unleash his patented twisted punches on them in the rematch because, after all, isn't Popeye fighting Martians really what comics are supposed to be about?

Happily celebrity gossip is ordinarily outside my purview but I had to stop when one of my news search engines set to look for comic book news spat out the headline "Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis Go on Comic Book Tour."  Apparently last Sunday the couple, described on one site as being "a match made in nerd heaven" (which seems to be a bit of stretch, given their lack of comic book related movie or TV credits).  Apparently they went on the Superhero Tour of New York, a two-hour walk some of the highlights of which include a stop by the building where Batman creator Bob Kane once worked and the street corner where Uncle Ben dropped off Peter Parker just before he got killed in the first Spider-Man movie.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of