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, Steve Bennett talks about Power Rangers, Disney, and animation new and old.

I genuinely appreciate T.C. Ford Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of United Comics taking the time to inform us Disney has agreed to produce at least one more incarnation of the franchise formerly known as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  I too had nephews who were enormous Power Ranger fans growing up (I can still see the youngest as a toddler, laughing hysterically as he ran around in increasingly frantic circles to the theme song playing in the background), which is probably why I still have so much animosity towards the show.

It wasn’t the cheesy rubber suit monsters and goofy humor that turned me off (I myself was a big fan of Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot when I was a lad), it was the fact that in spite of the fact that their father and Uncle Stevie were both huge superhero fans we could never get the boys to give them a try.  Not their cartoons or toys and certainly not their comic books; they loved Power Rangers, period, and nothing could ever shift them onto anything else -- not even, disturbingly enough, when they’d reached their late teens (but of course they could say the same about me).

As I write this the rumors about Gemstone canceling their Disney comics are just that, rumors, but honestly it might be the best thing that could happen to those characters.  Except for their preschool show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney seems to have given up trying to make them appeal to kids today and Gemstone hasn’t exactly helped raise their “Q” score.  Their comics, fine as they were, were definitely geared towards the narrowest of niches, hard core Disney collectors (a.k.a. comic book fans who’ve received an offer to join AARP).  With the very best of intentions they’ve helped make Mickey and Donald about as relevant as Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken.

And while I can’t imagine there’ll exactly be a mad scrum amongst publishers to see who’ll be next to lose money publishing Disney Comics, after seeing what Boom Studios did with comics based on The Incredibles and The Muppet Show I’d definitely like to see them take their shot (especially since their comics are going to have newsstand distribution).  Original American material of course would be preferred, like some Disney Princess and Tinker Bell comics for girls, but I’d happily “settle” for some of the European stories Gemstone inexplicably never translated, like Paperinik (Donald Duck’s superhero identity) and Wizards of Mickey (Lord of the Rings done ala Disney), etc.

While the death of Wizard's Anime Insider isn’t exactly a nail in the coffin of the popularity of anime in America, that Naruto (formerly one of their top rated shows) is suddenly off of Cartoon Network’s schedule without explanation might just be.  Or it might be “our voice is changing”, as CN claimed during their recent Upfronts.  There’s certainly not going to be a lot of room for anime, what with the impending deluge of tween live action programming; there are game shows and sitcoms, reality shows, dramas, even sports, all to compete with Disney who’s competing with Nickelodeon all of whom are chasing this all important demographic.

But if you kept digging through their press release you’d eventually hit cartoons, and some darn cool looking ones too. Like Sym-Bionic Titan from Genndy Tartakovsky (“an exciting hybrid of high school drama and giant robot battles”).  At first I didn’t have very high hopes for this one, because, frankly, I was afraid it was going to look like all of Tartakovsky’s other shows (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, etc.) but from the art they’ve released it’s definitely going to look like a proper giant robot show.

But the one that got my attention was Generator Rex; “infected by microscopic molecular-altering nanites, 15-year-old Rex has the ability to grow incredible machines out of his body.”  That sure sounded familiar, and then I saw the art… Agent Six!  Bobo Haha!  Rex!  I’d seen them all before, in a comic book called M.Rex written by Joe Kelly and Duncan Rouleau.  It was published by Avalon Studios/Images and only lasted two issues, but, oh, it was fun while it lasted.

M. Rex was dark and goofy, strange and beautiful, full of boy heroes, Zen secret agents, monkeys and killer toasters, and like so many of my favorite comics it was taken from us far too soon.  There was some vague talk in the comic press about the story being completed for a presumably more receptive European audience, then collected, but nothing came of it…until now.  I may have lost a favorite comic book but have gained a favorite animated series; I can hardly wait.

And, finally, you may have read reports that the Hall of Justice from the Super Friends cartoon was based on a building in my current base of operations, Cincinnati’s Union Terminal. I never cared for either Super Friends or the Hall (the name makes it sounds like on the weekends they rent it out for weddings) but have got to admit it’s grown on me.  At least it’s definitely an improvement over the Silver Age Justice League’s headquarters which was, after all, just a cave.  In retrospect you have to ask, what was Gardner Fox thinking?

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