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 number of current comic topics, including the new Superman costume, an anachronism in the Spider-Man strip, and two new comics worthy of note.

According to the Bleeding Cool website, Superman #38, the issue shipping today, is "Blowing Up On eBay As He Gets A New Power (SPOILER)."  But what is apparently making this issue "hot" is that fact he's getting a new costume.  His new costume is revealed on the cover of the following issue and frankly the changes are so minor that it's hard to understand all the interest, but they're still welcome.

I'm on record as having had some qualms about the "New 52" design (having called it a "NASCAR Victorian Spacesuit"), primarily that they took a design that is so elegantly simple any child could easily approximate it to one so full of unduly complicated details that it's hard for even some professional artists to master.  I'm not saying this was a factor in having Supes sporting his classic look in the General Mills Presents Justice League promotional comic books that came out last year.  But it sure didn't happen by accident.  Maybe the General Mills people were afraid kids wouldn't recognize Superman sans his underpants, though it sure seems to me like a classic case of "brand confusion."

Well, the good news is that most of the unnecessary detailing is now gone, although for some reason fingerless gloves have been added.  It looks like a refinement of the "New 52" look and not just some temporary change that will only last a couple of issues; it's a cleaner look and the overall effect is now less NASCAR and more like something someone would wear in a science fiction-themed Shakespeare production.  Though it is more than a little frustrating that they couldn’t have figured out what was wrong with the original new design back in 2011.

But, of course, more important than eBay sales and his latest costume is the actual comic, as in, is it actually any good?  As always, I accept going in that "good" is both relative and subjective, but to me anyway the Geoff Johns/John Romita Jr. version is the very model of a modern superhero comic, one that could appeal to a wide audience.  While the ongoing storyline definitely makes it difficult for the casual reader to pick up an issue at random, it is otherwise exactly the kind of comic that could appeal to anyone who knows Superman and wants to know more.  DC has done it with Batman, now Superman; now if only they could only do the same thing with the monthly Wonder Woman comic.

I recently complained about how DC Comics' Arkham Asylum was hopelessly archaic and Marvel's Ultron was painfully out of date compared to Baymax, Big Hero 6's cutting edge soft robot.  And that comic creators should be doing a better job at making their comics seem contemporary (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Do The Research").  Well two Sundays ago, I came across an even better example of this phenomenon in The Amazing Spider-Man comic strip.  While filming "Marvella," a movie about a female superhero (something we're still waiting to see in our world), Mary Jane is menaced by a malfunctioning robot.  I fully expected it to be a Star Wars knockoff but apparently that wasn't sufficiently out of date because MJ is attacked by Elektro, the smoking robot who made his debut at the 1939 World's Fair.  Now, no one is a bigger fan of vintage robots than I, and understand that this could have been done as a whimsical "homage."  But there's part of me that's convinced it was done because some of the strip's readers are old enough to have actually attended the 1939 World's Fair.

This year I promised that I would make a concerted effort to try and stay on the subject of comics, and there have recently been a couple of titles particularly worthy of mention.  Like Creature Cops Special Varmint Unit, by Rob Anderson and Fernando Malek from IDW Publishing, set in a near future where new species of genetically engineered hybrid life forms (gator-snakes, panda dogs etc.) fall under the aegis of a federalized animal control agency.  While it certainly seems like the setup for yet another series about a ragtag group of monster hunters, the comic is actually more of a low key police procedural that's more invested in the day to day lives of its Animal Control Officers than the cool monsters.  It's a near perfect first issue that makes me want to read more.

And, finally, with a title like Abigail and the Snowman you might expect the whimsical adventures of an adorable little girl and her magical snowman, but we've come to expect more from Roger Langridge (Muppets, Popeye, etc.) and, boy, does he deliver.  There is a little girl, and while she’s certainly cute, on top of her many real world problems she has to deal with a snazzily dressed yeti named Claude who only children can see.  It's a four-issue series from KaBOOM!, the all-ages imprint from BOOM! Studios, and like everything from Langridge it's very much worth your time.

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