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Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Here Comes Brain Boy!

Column by Steve Bennett

Published: 01/30/2013 02:38am
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 talks about the latest spate of licensed comic announcements.
 
I can't say that I was exactly surprised by the announcement that BOOM! Studios would be doing a Regular Show comic (see "BOOM! Studios Launching 'Regular Show' Comic"), not given the fact that comics based on kids cartoons (Adventure Time, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) have suddenly become strong sellers to the 18-35 male demographic.  Given the demand I suppose it's only a matter of time until we'll be seeing Fox & Crow and Ziggy Pig & Silly Seal one-shots from DC and Marvel.
 
I know I’m on record as not having exactly been a fan of the Cartoon Network series (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Another Chance to Get It Wrong") but as so often happens my first impression of something can be overly harsh.  When I gave Regular Show a second chance I began to enjoy its distinctive indie comic look and desperate love of 80's pop culture.
 
But I was surprised by IDW's announcement they were doing an X-Files comic book (see "IDW to Publish 'X-Files' Comic Book Series"), maybe because it hadn’t been what you’d call a hot property for years or just because of the fact that I had never been that big a fan of the series.*  Although they've established that the comic would take place after the second movie, 2008's The X-Files: I Want To Believe, there's still no word on whether it will be an official continuation of the TV series.  But given the amount of money and media attention that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 generated for Dark Horse, they'd be fools if they didn’t do the series as X-Files Season 10.
 
But Dark Horse bringing back Brain Boy, the 60's plainclothes teen superhero with mental powers, just seems kind of strange to me.  I would like to say it 'makes sense,' seeing as how in 2011 they released a hardcover archive collection of the short-lived Dell Comic.  And since no one likes strange and obscure superhero comics more than me (I once used this column to name-check Tiger Boy from Twilight from Unearthly Spectaculars), I really should be onboard for this revival.  Especially since, according to character designs by Fred Van Lente and Freddie Williams II that were posted on the Comic Book Resources website, Brain Boy will be keeping his signature suit and tie. 
 
And I am onboard, for the most part, theoretically anyway.  Over the years I've repeatedly written about licensed comics and I've come to accept them as an important part of how the direct sales market works for both publishers and retailers.  I know that
"pre-awareness is priceless" and frequently the people writing and drawing the licensed books are every bit as good if not better than the creator owned ones.  I mean, Conan the Barbarian and Road to Oz made my Top 5 comics of 2011 list, and don't get started about Popeye by Roger Langridge.  One of the few comics that I’m legitimately looking forward to in 2013 (so far) is Popeye #12 which features a guest appearance by Snuffy Smith.
 
So, clearly, it's not that I don’t like licensed comics, because clearly I do.  But when I read announcements for comics like The X-Files and Brain Boy it’s kind of hard to get excited about them.  As a reader or a retailer, it's also hard to shake the feeling that we, as an industry, can do better than this.  I honestly couldn’t tell you what it is that I'm looking for, just something else, other, more.  I just know it isn’t Regular Show and that I'll know what it is when I see it.
 
* But I know that a lot of people were.  I was friends with one and after grudgingly watching a few episodes I found one thing that I did love about the series was the sporadic appearances by the supporting players known as the Lone Gunmen.  I never believed they could have died quite as stupidly as they did at the end of The X- Files episode "Jump the Shark" and I'm hoping that an upcoming issue of the comic will confirm my theory that they faked their own deaths.
 
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
 
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