Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by retailer Steve Bennett of Mary Alice Wilson's Dark Star Comics of Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett covers a lot of ground, revisiting the question of whether superheroes are 'silly,' looking at the ads in Marvel Adventures, and wondering about Betty becoming a NASCAR driver. 


I promised myself, among others, that I wouldn't expand further on last week's column where I declared superheroes inherently 'silly.'  And while no one (to date)  has called me on it and though it really should go without saying (but if you've come to know to me at all from these columns, you know that absolutely nothing goes 'without saying'), I probably should state, for the record, I love superheroes.


I mean, duh; why else would I be in this business, or writing this in the first place?  And of course they're silly, but they're also powerful myths which have resonated with people all over the world.  And, in theory, there's nothing wrong with updating or modernizing those myths; I mean, how many times has Hollywood made variations on Cinderella in the last twenty years?


Like in the movie Pretty Woman, where the title character was recast as a prostitute.  It's certainly a more 'mature' take on the material, but it was a huge international hit because it was emotionally satisfying (if not emotionally manipulative).  But you can go too far.  Take this week's example - Helmet of Fate:  Detective Chimp.  You can't go much sillier (or cooler) than a clothes-wearing, talking ape who solves crime (DC, you absolutely have to do a DC Showcase featuring him and Rex the Wonder Dog!).


But in the opening scene of this comic we get a scene CBS probably wouldn't allow in a prime-time episode of CSI: four traditionally dressed would-be teen super-heroes dead, sprawled on a hotel room floor.  But at least this sort of brutal overkill isn't in any way, you know, silly.


But this time I'd really like to address some questions I have about ads appearing in Marvel Comics this month, especially the Marvel Adventures line.  In the pages of Marvel Adventures The Avengers #9 (wherein the Avengers are turned into Modoc clones; if you haven't been reading this one all along, do yourself a favor and do), there were ads for...


Marvel Sleepwear


The Amazing Spider-Man Magnetic Drawing Board


Marvel Heroes Eau De Toilette


The Amazing Spider-Man Express Train



('Candy Action Heroes! Poseable Figures!' screams the copy; is that last part even possible, even utilizing Gummi technology?)


Spider-Man 3 Limited Edition Klik (which I'm going to assume is kind of like a Pez) Candy Dispenser


A couple of questions:  first, was Marvel unable to get enough outside ads for this issue so they stuffed it with house ads promoting licensed Marvel merchandise?  And second, since a number of the ads feature phrases like 'available at a retailer near you' and 'coming a retailer near you,' are they intended for us?  I assume so, since there's also an ad showing every imaginable Marvel character (even the now obscure Doop from X-Statix; but then, I'm just betting this Slimer from Ghostbusters look-alike is just bursting with star appeal) announcing 'to find Marvel products at a local comic shop, call 1-888-comicbook.'


If they do mean us...why hasn't any of this merchandise been made available to us?  I mean, putting the cart before the horse to this degree really doesn't make a lot of sense.


And, finally, the story about the 'new look' Archie Comics got so much press.  Far less reported was the one announcing Betty Cooper will become a NASCAR racer in the pages of Archie Comics #572 as well as the glossy magazine NASCAR Illustrated, which more or less slipped under the radar.  Not Archie mind you, but Betty, who as far as I know has previously never shown any interest in motor vehicles.  If he doesn't watch out, the redhead will be reduced to a supporting player in his own comic (which would be especially cruel irony, given the way he stole the spotlight from super-heroes like The Shield and Black Hood back in the 40s).


My only problem with this being; you have to be at least eighteen to be a NASCAR driver, and like Veronica and Archie, Betty is (and will only ever be) seventeen.