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 anger in our pop culture, toy-based movie universes, and the Twilight Zone / The Shadow mash-up comic.

I still haven’t seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, nor have I any intention to do so.  But I do continue to think about it, and only now, with the film becoming an increasingly distant memory and everyone else poised to pick apart Captain America: Civil War (though as far as I can tell, sight unseen everyone has presumptively decided they love it), that I think I’ve finally figured out exactly what I think about the whole "modern" Superman thing.

As I’ve repeatedly written over the years, Superman may well be my favorite fictional character, and fictional characters have to mirror their times or they run a very real risk of going the way of Mutt and Jeff.  Or Bringing Up Father or The Gumps or any of the other comic strips that have gone from being national obsessions to footnotes, best known for once having been famous.  As if you hadn’t noticed, these times are relentlessly negative and destructive, flush with fear of foreigners and each other, rife with victimization and resentment, hate and anger.  Especially anger.  This is a country which is so unaccountably, uncontrollably enraged even our hamburgers are angry.  I speak of course of Burger King’s infamous Angry Whopper: a new amped-up iteration of the original, with "hot sauce baked into a raging red bun," is now out calling itself "The Angriest Whopper."  I am tempted, but haven’t tried it yet; but then, I’m the kind of guy who always ordered the original with "extra anger."

The conclusion I've come to is, this is the Superman the times currently demand, and his current condition has less to do with a director who has Ayn Rand on his mind or complicit and/or complacent corporate caretakers, and more to do with who we are now.  This may very well be the Superman that we deserve.  God Help Us All.

Last week while writing about the Netflix CGI series Kong: King of the Apes (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Build Your Own Universe"), I touched on the fact that in these uncertain economic times, for the entertainment industry, universe building has become the default survival strategy.  And while I mentioned how Universal has a series of interconnected movies featuring their classic monsters in the pipeline, starting with a 2017 reboot of The Mummy, then theorized how we might be seeing a future Kong/Bionic crossover of some sort.  Seeing as how both franchises are owned by Universal Studios, I completely neglected to mention that Kong already had a cinema universe of his very own all set up; one he shares with Godzilla.  This Kong-verse launches in 2017 with the Kong: Skull Island movie.  A prequel comic from BOOM! Studios. Kong of Skull Island is set for a Summer 2017 release, (see "'Kong of Skull Island' Miniseries").  Which will be followed by Godzilla 2* in 2018 and Godzilla Vs. Kong in 2020.

I also wrote about Hanna-Barbera’s plans for making a universe of their own (see "Warner Bros. Plans Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe"),  And while I already knew Hasbro and Paramount had a cinematic universe of their own in the works for properties like G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM (see "The '80s Toy Box Explodes Onscreen In Cross-Property Film Universe"), it became clear just how serious they were about it when they announced a list of the writers they had working on it, which include Brian K. Vaughan, Michael Chabon, and Akiva Goldsman (see "Hasbro Assembles Writers Room For Cinematic Universe").

So we have a lot of toy-centric movies in our future.  The only question is, do we actually want or need them.

Not too long ago (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Everybody Meets Everybody Else") I threw a bit of shade on the premise of the then upcoming comic, The Twilight Zone--The Shadow.  Partially because it’s such an unlikely pairing and, well, it’s kind of hard for a character to "meet" a concept.   But then I read the first issue and have to commend both writer David Avallone and artist Dave Acosta for a story that makes full use of its sky-high premise.  There are plenty of weird psychological twists and turns as the nature of The Shadow is torn apart and re-examined so it helps that the story opens with the character laughing as his guns deliver final justice to a bunch of American Nazis.

* In the past I have chided Toho Co. Ltd for not doing nearly enough with their other monster properties: Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah, etc.  Well, for the record apparently it was announced at last year’s Comic-Con that all three creatures will appear in Godzilla 2.  Still no word concerning Jet Jaguar, though, the size-changing robot from the legendarily silly but always entertaining 1973 movie Godzilla Vs. Megalon.  Fun Bonus Fact: according to Wikipedia, the character "was the result of a contest Toho had for children in mid-to-late 1972."  The winner "was an elementary school student, who submitted the drawing of a robot called Red Arone" which appears to have been a misspelling of the English word "Alone."  And "Red Alone" seems to me to be a heartbreakingly sad thing to name a giant robot.  Maybe he’ll make a cameo when they finally get to making a Bionic Kong Meets Mecha Godzilla 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