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 the nature of change, and the feelings it engenders:

The frightening things we do sometimes when we're afraid to be afraid."
                                        --Dr. Noah Praetorius, People Will Talk

It seems to have gone otherwise unnoticed but according to the sketches by Rags Morales posted on The Source, "the official blog of the DC Universe," the version of Doc Savage appearing in this week's Batman / Doc Savage Special #1 is biracial.  I'm not surprised; I've long suspected the whole "skin tanned bronze under tropical suns" stuff from the pulps was just an inventive cover story someone of mixed race came up with to allow them to go unmolested in the institutionalized racism of 1930's America.

Me, I thought this could be a selling point, a way of establishing to the new readers DC is trying to attract to the project that this is a contemporary take on the character.  But when I mentioned this to a friend who's a decade older and even bigger pulp fan he didn't care for it one bit.  I've known him well and long enough to know his reaction didn't come from any kind of racial animus; he was just dead set against yet another arbitrary change.

And it's not like it's just him; I've filled entirely too many of these columns going on and on about the sorry state of contemporary superhero comics.  But unfortunately change is something we had all better get used to because the older you get the more things change and the less likely you are to like those changes.

Right below dying one of the worst things about getting older is the creeping realization that life isn't static; that we can't even hold onto the shallow satisfaction that at least things will go on pretty much as they have without us.  It seems to be a universal human condition to complain about how invariably things are getting worse but it seems to disproportionally affect predominately white privileged middle aged, middle class men such as myself.  Another example would be the hosts of the Bob & Tom syndicated radio show; I confess I probably derive entirely too much entertainment listening to their prissy discomfort at being mildly inconvenienced by life.

And they have no shortage of minor complaints; they hate it when the names of streets are changed or groceries rearrange the layout of their stores.  But they reserve a special level of ire for the prospect of American schools being kept open all year.  Now there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to this being enacted but reason never enters into their arguments which amount to a near hysterical rant about how "kids need time to play and go on family vacations."

It's a fair, if purely emotional, point, but I always find it odd just how invested a pair of men my age are in a subject that no longer has anything to do with their everyday lives.  So a couple of weeks ago when President Obama raised the issue again in a speech Bob and/or Tom went into an inappropriately irate screed to the effect "they should just go ahead and play The Internationale, make us wear gray suits, eliminate all fun…"

As far as I can tell their "argument" consists of "it's the way things have always been so it's the way things always should be".  If you haven't noticed the thing that all of Bob & Tom's petty outrages have in common is change, specifically a state of near panic that things are changing without their express written permission.  And they are just not having it.

Now I'm not one of those omniscient pundits (you know, the kind who have the uncanny ability to "know" things without benefit of actual knowledge) but I've begun to believe behind these grumbles are the same thing behind all the cries of "Where is my America?" we heard this summer.  I know it's been attributed to everything from politics, racism and nativism but I think it comes down to something more nonpartisan.

It's fear, fear of change.  It's probably especially scary for us middle-aged, middle class guys who had the enormous good fortune to have been born in the sweet spot of human history.  And as we all know from our Jedi training fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering, which apparently some are delighted to see just so long as it doesn't happen to anyone they know personally.

It's entirely understandable; the world changes and does not change back but we can no longer afford to wallow in resentment or sit back bracing for the blow.  Our entire industry is changing and if we are to have a future we're going to have to start anticipating what those changes are going to be.
Hopefully we'll start doing that next week.

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