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 DC’s plans for the Superman character, plus news of a special Archie comic about a new character with autism at Riverdale High.Superman Dons His Red Trunks For ‘Action Comics’ #1000”). Removing them back in 2011 when DC’s New 52 tweaked most of their core characters, some in an attempt to make them more relatable to modern, more mainstream audiences.
Superman, not being as popular (or as financially lucrative) as Batman, became tougher and more cynical; in other words, more like Batman. And while this is just supposition on my part, I assume someone at DC or Time-Warner noticed Superman had one thing Batman didn’t; trunks. Oh, Batman still wore them in cartoons (like 2008’s Batman: The Brave and The Bold) and merchandise intended for a younger demographic. But in comics and at the movies, he went without...and easily outsold and out-earned his corporate stablemate.
I don’t know if anyone seriously blamed the difference in popularity of the characters on their apparel. But a lot of people, myself included, thought they were “not cool” as well as old-fashioned, which might as well be a synonym for “not cool.” As I wrote back then (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy -- Underwear On The Inside”), “Shorts-over-tights has become shorthand for juvenile and lame, the kind of thing that the former frat boy wags at Maxim and Cracked love to chortle over, something that is (if you'll forgive the playground nomenclature) ‘for babies.’”
Plus if you were completely unaware of their origins in what turn-of-the-century circus strong men wore, they also seemed pointless and looked ridiculous. And as I confessed last year (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy -- Revisiting The Recent”), until they were gone I didn’t realize exactly why those trunks had been necessary in the first place. Superman wore them for the same reason male dancers wear dance belts, they’re to keep us from looking at his "groinological area" (as they use to call it on Mystery Science Theater 3000).
As for why the trunks are returning just now, I couldn’t say, though I’m going to go ahead and assume it has something to do with the fact this new Superman hadn’t proved to be perceptively any more popular than the "classic" version, either on the page or screen. While the movies Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made money they both underperformed at the Box Office, which at least some blamed on audiences not embracing Superman being portrayed as a gloomy alien.
Of course, Superman getting his trunks back in Action Comics #1000 is also a handy way to generate a lot of free publicity for the 80th Anniversary of the character. And there's always a chance that their long absence will make at least some fans appreciate those red trunks a little more (but I wouldn't count on it).“DC Comics Just Published the Perfect Superman Story.” I realize that these days not all Superman stories can be like this one, but I do wish more of them were. Nancy Silberkleit Now Distributing Her Own Archie Comic, Featuring Scarlet, One Copy at a Time” about how co-CEO of Archie Comics Nancy Silberkleit had with writer Ray Felix and artist Fernando Ruiz created a new done-in-the-classic-Archie-style story. Titled "Kindness Works," it's about a new character with autism named Scarlet, who starts going to Riverdale High.
Silberkleit hopes both students and teachers can learn about kids with autism through the story and says, ”We hope that the Archie Comics can be a vehicle for creating a dialogue in the classroom and for helping kids to recognize and appreciate differences without belittling those who are different.” She also believes kindness can be instilled in children through education and is quoted as saying; “Kindness can light up a dark room and transform people, and it can be infectious too, since it only takes one act of kindness to ignite others to be kind.”
The piece concludes by saying Silberkleit is distributing the comic herself and anyone interested in a copy should email her, which I did. When I received my PDF copy I found “Kindness Works” to be a well done, well-told story that conveys its message of inclusion and kindness in a simple, genuine manner. Hopefully, it will receive the kind of media attention it deserves and copies will find their way to where they’re needed most: school classrooms.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.