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 catches up on many of the topics he missed over the course of his COVID-19 hiatus.

The major problem with not writing these things for such a long time is I’m still playing catch up on everything I had wanted to remake on. For example, back in March, I wrote about Scoob!, the CGI feature film that was then set to hit theaters May 15 (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book--The Scooby Conundrum"). Instead it "opted for a home entertainment release” (i.e. video-on-demand) and despite having mixed reviews, it topped the digital rental charts for its first three weekends. If you didn't see it, you might just want to. I have to confess I was confused by those "mixed reviews" because, as previously established, I’m not the biggest fan of Scoob and the Gang. Yet I liked the movie just fine anyway, and I liked just as much the second time I saw it.

Though admittedly my second viewing was mostly spent looking for easter eggs; usually I'm not much one for cinematic Easter egg hunts, but Hanna-Barbera fans will want to keep their eyes open for some wonderful background details. After spending 17 episodes of 1969's Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines failing in his attempts to assassinate a small bird, a Scoob Easter egg revealed that Dick Dastardly eventually stopped the pigeon. I had expressed concern Dick was now shown having a greenish tinge and that world domination/destruction schemes had never been "his jam", but I'm happy to report in Scoob! Dastardly is his original hue and primarily concerned with stealing stuff. Originally voiced by the late Paul Winchell, Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) performs a scene-stealing star turn as Dastardly.

While we're still on the subject, I've stated that I used to blame the massive popularity of Scooby-Doo and its many, many imitators for killing off shows like Space Ghost and The Herculoids. But I was reminded of the actual context of their cancellation when I saw the article entitled The Strange Connection Between Bobby Kennedy’s Death and Scooby-Doo. Its author Kevin Sandler says that it was the “assassination of Robert. F. Kennedy in June 1968 that would exile action-adventure cartoons from the Saturday morning lineup for nearly a decade”.

Sandler, an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Arizona State University who has a “forthcoming book on the franchise” does an excellent job of putting the series into the context of the tumultuous 60's. Reading it I found that the “cultural shifts and political exigencies” and “societal upheavals” of the era have uncanny parallels to what's happening in America now. That being said, Sandler is no fan of my beloved superhero shows, calling them “grim series” that were “churned out” and were full of “horror”, “terror, peril, jeopardy, and child endangerment” (what he calls “horror” I call “fun” but, you know, tomato, to-mah-toe). I can't imagine he was pleased by the appearances of Blue Falcon and Captain Caveman in Scoob!

I've never kept it a secret that I'm a huge fan of both Astro Boy and his creator, Osamu Tezuka. Last year, I wrote how the Japanese tech firm Kioxia was using artificial intelligence "to craft an entire new work inspired by the prolific creator" (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- First We'll See And Then We'll Know"). Well, now Kioxia Announces English Version of World’s First AI-Designed Manga.  And if you go to the Tezuka2020 website you’ll be able to read an English-language version of the 22-page story, Phaedo, the story of "a homeless philosopher and his robot bird, Apollo, who try to solve crimes in Tokyo in 2030".  I think it comes pretty close to Tezuka’s work, and hopefully, this means there will be new Astro Boy manga coming in the future.

As a huge Ultraman fan, I was well pleased when last year it was announced Marvel would produce graphic novels for the character (see "Marvel to Produce New 'Ultraman' Comics and Graphic Novels"). Well, not only has The Rise Of Ultraman #1 been scheduled for release in September, Marvel has posted both its main cover by Alex Ross, and Olivier Coipel's variant featuring Spidey. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch an episode of Ultraman, Americans will have the unprecedented opportunity to watch the latest series the same day it airs in Japan via a simulcast as episodes of Ultraman Z will be simulcast via Tsuburaya's YouTube channel.

I’ve seen the first episode Ultraman Z which reinvents the series as a science police procedural drama crossed with a workplace comedy (imagine a Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Kaiku Division). It still, thankfully, takes the extraterrestrial giant wrestling giant monsters aspect of it absolutely seriously. However, the humans characters are less stock and are more relatable and when it does go for the funny its jokes generally land.  If you’ve never seen Ultraman before, this is a very good place to start.

Two weeks ago, I praised the DC’s Digital First line of titles and how their done-in-one, outside-of-continuity stories starring major characters were perfect for either new or casual readers ("Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy--Now Where Were We"). Although given the never quite ending storylines and impenetrable mythology found in current comics, it's hard to imagine there still are“casual readers” any more. The Digital First comics have featured material originally published in the DC 100-Page Giant line of comics exclusively sold in Walmarts; then it was announced “after nearly two years” of being sold in 3,000 Walmarts the program has come to a full and unexpected stop (see "DC Switches to Four-Packs in Walmart").

Like the 100-page Giant, the four-pack is a time tested delivery method for providing comics to people in a convenient, affordable package and no doubt "shrink-wrapped four-packs of recent DC comics" makes more financial sense for DC than the Giants, especially since DC was undoubtedly paying the top rates of top talents for the new material.  And while my sentimental side is sad to see the format once again being retired, for the time being anyway, I have to wonder what, if anything DC learned about the preferences of the general public when it comes to comics from the program.  And if they did, would they be willing to share it with the rest of the class.

And since I've been writing about both Scooby-Doo and DC’s Digital First line of titles, I would be really remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a new Digital First Scooby-Doo comic available June 27.

And, finally, last week I also mentioned how much I enjoyed the first appearance of Bat-Dinosaur, a weaponized version of the Batcave’s resident animatronic T-Rex in Dark Nights Death Metal #1 (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy--The Breakout Character Of 2021”), Since then I’ve learned two things, one, officially the character’s name is “B-Rex”, and two, I’m not the only one who likes him; Robot Dinosaur Batman is DC's Greatest Decision in Years. And I wasn’t being a wiseguy when I suggested B-Rex could be “The Breakout Character Of 2020”; any little boy (and a great many girls) will happily tell you, the only thing better than being Batman is being Batman and a dinosaur.

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