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 explains why Spider-Man should be in therapy, and looks at WarnerMedia's puzzling decisions regarding The Banana Splits and Hanna Barbera.

Well, Heroes in Crisis #9 finally came out; I had been hoping it would amount to more than a high hero body count and while it was nothing like I expected, I suppose it did.  As Newsarama put it in The Fate of WALLY WEST & SANCTUARY Revealed in HEROES IN CRISIS #9 - SPOILERS, the point "seems to be that superheroes are troubled, just like the rest of us. All of them need help sometimes."  I've often written about mental health issues in comics (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy -- Something Entirely New"), and while I find this attitude encouraging, I can’t help but think much more needs to be done.

Usually, this is usually where I would advocate for DC to close Arkham Asylum, or how both Marvel and DC should stop literally demonizing mental illness with their villains.  But this time I’m going to attempt a different track and suggest that a good way of helping to change this country’s attitudes about mental disorders and psychiatric treatment would be if a major superhero was in therapy on an ongoing basis.  And I would like to nominate Spider-Man; given his popularity, especially with kids, he’d be the perfect candidate; and no one could argue that he doesn’t really, really need it.

It’s not like he hasn’t flirted with the idea of going before, unfortunately not to deal with his many neuroses or just have someone he could talk to about his stressful, conflicted life, but rather for very plot-specific purposes.  Everyone seems to have forgotten it, but back in 1963 in Amazing Spider-Man #13, fearing he had developed a split personality and was unknowingly committing crimes, Spider-Man decided to drop in unannounced at a random unnamed psychiatrist. Given the old Peter Parker luck, he turned out to be both unethical and unscrupulous.  Upon seeing Spidey he thinks, "If I can make a patient out of him I'll make medical history!  Imagine a mysterious superhero who's a mental case!"  But realizing that he might accidentally reveal his secret identity during therapy he bails, with the psychiatrist shouting after him, "Wait!  Come back! You're the kind of patient every psychiatrist dreams of!  Stop!"

Apparently, he was unaware doctor-patient confidentiality applies to therapists, and while some jurisdictions do require them to report their patient's criminal behavior, that shouldn’t have been an impediment.  Over the years, Spider-Man may have been charged with a lot of things, but the official answer to the question "What is Spider-Man wanted by the police for?" has usually been "questioning."

And he’s also had brushes with other psychiatrists (I don’t have the space to get into Amazing Spider-Man #24, "Spider-Man Goes Mad"), including repeated brushes with Marvel's sinister psychiatrist in residence, Dr. Johann Fennhoff a.k.a. Dr. Faustus (including in, I was surprised to discover, an episode of the cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in the episode "Pawns of the Kingpin"),  And back in the 90s he regularly visited Marvel’s version of Arkham, Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane in New York City, the less said about that the better.

But as far as I know (there are a lot Spider-Man comics and even I haven’t read them all) he’s never gone back, which is sad.  If any Marvel superhero could benefit from talking about his problems in a therapeutic setting on a regular basis, it’s Spider-Man.  Back in the early 60s, there was still a stigma associated with seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist, but the world has changed a lot since then.  Of course, Peter should do some research first to make sure he finds someone with a good professional reputation; maybe he could reach out to some of his friends in the superhero community.  And maybe after he becomes comfortable with it, Aunt May could come with him; they still have a lot of issues to work through.

And let’s not forget Miles Morales; a Spider-person that young dealing with everything he has could undoubtedly benefit from some counseling. There are an awful lot of Spider-People these days; they might want to consider group therapy.  So, Marvel, Mental Illness Awareness Week 2019 starts on October 6; let’s make this the year Peter finally gets the help he needs and deserves.

Unless you're of a certain age, The Banana Splits probably doesn’t mean much to you, which is entirely understandable.  The last time they popped up on the pop culture radar was the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Special, one of the DC Meets Hanna-Barbera titles from 2017.  As Watch:The Banana Splits First Trailer Gives Horrific Twist To Beloved Children's Show. points out, the show was a while ago, and even "that hilariously arcane Banana Splits joke from the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 might be too old a reference to get."  So, before I can go forward I’m going to have to back up a bit.

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour that ran between 1969 and 1970 was a mix of live-action and animated shorts linked by songs and skits performed by a four-member "bubblegum" band in animal mascot type costumes: Fleegle, a beagle that played guitar; Bingo, an orange ape on drums; on bass, Drooper, a lion; and playing the keyboards, elephant Snorky.  SatAm shows featuring bands were literally a dime a dozen back then, but the music of the Banana Splits stood out because it featured talented L.A. session musicians like Gene Pitney, Jimmy Radcliffe, Al Kooper and Barry White, who performed on "Doin' the Banana Split."  A song which I want played at full volume at either my wedding or funeral, whichever comes first; and I have a pretty good idea which one it will be.

The Banana Splits movie is an R-rated horror movie directed by Danishka Esterhazy and written by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas about a family who has the bad luck of attending a taping of The Banana Splits Show the day they go on a "murderous rampage."  It’s set to premiere on Syfy later this year, fittingly making it a Syfy Original Movie like The 12 Disasters of Christmas, Arachnoquake, and Man with the Screaming Brain.  I must confess I’m not so much outraged by this movie as I am totally bewildered by it,  especially given a piece that appeared on Bleeding Cool back in January; An End of Hanna-Barbera at DC Comics?

It’s just a rumor, something I automatically ignore, but it’s been months since it was first posted and while it’s yet to be substantiated (the only site I found that treated it as fact was the Scooby Apocalypse Wikia page) it also hasn’t been refuted.  The piece quotes unnamed "good sources" that "all the Hanna-Barbera properties will be canned at DC Comics this year," apparently because a Warner Bros. executive was "increasingly unhappy with the way the characters have been reinvented” in titles like Snagglepuss, The Flintstones, and Scooby Apocalypse.  Scooby Apocalypse was canceled; the last issue was #36 which came out in April and so far no DC/HB books have been announced for 2019.  So, it could be true, and if it is, I have to wonder, why would Warner allow "a slasher-flavored revival" of a "beloved children’s brand" to be made?  Though perhaps the better question would be, how could this possibly be good for WarnerMedia of the Hanna-Barbara brand?

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