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 talks about Wonder Woman's U.N. Ambassadorship ending, Man-Thing, and DC/Hanna-Barbera Team-Ups.

Wonder Woman’s honorary role in a campaign for gender equality will end on Friday (“Wonder Woman’s Term As U.N. Ambassador Abruptly Ends”).  Or as the headline of the piece in the UK’s The Guardian put it, “One Less Woman In Politics.”  There was a belief that the character was sending “the wrong messages,” or in the words of the online petition that was signed by 45,000 people, ”Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent ‘warrior’ woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit.”

She only held the job for two months, but the UN’s chief of NGO relations and advocacy Jeffrey Brez said: “From the UN’s side, there was no plan for it to be much longer than this.”  Such things are not unprecedented, for example, The Angry Birds, who inexplicably became UN climate change envoys in March, only held the job for one day.  Which can’t look good on their resumes.

While disappointing, the news was hardly unexpected.  At the October 21 United Nations event celebrating the character, 50 U.N. staffers in the audience silently protested by turning their backs on a panel that included Wonder Woman actors Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot.  Besides looking for someone less sexualized Those Opposed were apparently looking for a candidate that was more non-fictional, a “real-life Wonder Woman” if you will.  

While I can definitely see their point, ultimately, it's kind of a pyrrhic victory.  While Wonder Woman as Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls might have been problematic, removing her doesn't fill the post with someone they would deem more suitable.   Or, as Lou Grant once put it on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Don't fire the old sportscaster until you hire a new one."

Although I’ve never been a fan of his work, when Marvel announced that prolific Young Adult writer R.L. Stine would be writing  one of their comics, I must admit I was  intrigued.  And when they announced the comic was going to write was Man-Thing, I was actively interested.  For those only familiar with character from his sporadic guest appearances from the last thirty years or so, originally Man-Thing was a mindless, empathic creature equally capable of helping or destroying those he wandered upon, depending on how they reacted to him.  Or as the covers of the comics put it, “Whatever Knows Fear Burns at the Man-Thing’s Touch.”   I wasn’t a particularly big fan of the Marvel Monster titles, but I was a fan of Man-Thing, primarily due to Steve Gerber’s remarkable writing run back in the 1970’s. 

Giant-Sized Man-Thing #4 is probably best remembered for being the comic that featured the first solo Howard The Duck story, but for me, the truly unforgettable one was “The Kid’s Night Story,” where Man-Thing became an instrument of revenge for a tormented dead teenager.  Being a tortured fat kid myself, Gerber’s story make me feel understood, recognized and, though we didn’t have this term at the time, represented.

But I started to feel uneasy after reading a piece in The New York Times by George Gene Gustines, “R.L. Stine to Write Man-Thing Series for Marvel”.  In it there were a few definite points of interest.  First, I had no idea Stine was 74 years old.  Second, when he was a kid he had been a big fan of Tales of the Crypt-type horror comics and wanted to be a comic book artist. Third there was this paragraph:  “In the first story, Man-Thing heads to Burbank, Calif., wondering why he is not starring in a major motion picture (Comic book purists may balk at one revision to the character: Man-Thing will no longer be mute. ‘He can talk and he’s very sarcastic,’ Mr. Stine noted.)”

I really try hard not to be a comic book purist, Mr. Stine, but a Man-Thing that talks really isn’t Man-Thing.  I think you may be thinking of your famous creation, Slappy the Dummy, from the Goosebumps books.  And given your considerable experience, and love of old E.C. Comics, I was hoping for something a little more like a horror comic from your first writing work in comics.

Not much surprises me anymore, but I must confess I was more than a little surprised when the recent spate of DC/Hanna-Barbera comics did as well as they did.  They were something that I was absolutely certain would only appeal to grandpas such as myself and maybe a few hipsters pulled in by the freak factor of seeing distorted depictions of classic characters.  So I was surprised even further when I read that DC was doing a series of DC/Hanna-Barbera Annuals (see “Team-Ups That Boggle The Mind”).

Truthfully, most of them didn’t boggle my mind over much. Adam Strange/Future Quest Annual #1 teaming Adam Strange up with Team Quest is inspired.  Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1 is a no-brainer, as well as a match-up Comic Book Guys like me have been wanting to see for decades.  The less said about Booster Gold/The Flintstones Annual the better. But just to show that my brain is still capable of being blown there’s Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Annual #1.  Being an old, I’m a huge fan of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky, both their show as well as them as a band*, and I’m putting DC Comics on notice; don’t you hurt my boys.

*You may well laugh, but while The Archies were a perfect acceptable faux bubblegum pop group, thanks to L.A. session musicians working behind the scenes, The Banana Splits lightweight tunes could sometimes pack a sold R&B, funk groove.  The legendary Barry White actually played on their hit, “Doin’ The Banana Split,” the song I want played at either my wedding or funeral; whichever comes first.

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