First Year Vibes: Inevitable Things in College

Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor

When I visited U of L as a high school senior, my tour guide told me that I would get sick at least once during first semester. I did not want to believe her, but by September her prediction had come true for me. People will tell you a lot of things that will happen to you in college, and I am about to be one of those people. Believe it or not, the following things have likely happened to you or will happen to you before you graduate.

Continue reading “First Year Vibes: Inevitable Things in College”

Nerd Factor: The Prophecy

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

I’m not sure if technically it was a curse or a prophecy, but it went something like this:

“One day, you’ll see Doctor Doom come back from the dead one too many times and that’ll be it.”

The source of this ominous portent was a curious one.  This was not some grizzled old fan complaining about the good ole days.  Bumper was the co-owner of The Twilight Zone, my beloved first comic book shop in downtown Annapolis.  If memory serves, Bumper’s real name was Roger. He had a kind of young Bill Murray vibe about him. Along with the other co-owner Scott, Bumper had shepherded my early fandom since my friends and I discovered the shop in my high school days.  To me, Bumper and Scott were like the cool, older brothers of comics.

Continue reading “Nerd Factor: The Prophecy”

Nerd Factor: Bothered by Strong Women

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Professor

Recently, the website Rotten Tomatoes closed down features of their website and pledged to control the ability of users to comment on movies before those movies were actually released.  Sadly, the reasons for this were not just common sense. No, this move was the response to an effort to ruin the success of Captain Marvel before the release by deliberately going after the film with negative comments and ratings.

Continue reading “Nerd Factor: Bothered by Strong Women”

Nerd Factor: May’s Day

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Of all the superheroes, Spider-Man has the best supporting cast. The constant dangers and intrigues of costumed crime-fighting are strong lures for the reader, but the interpersonal struggles faced by Peter, his family, and his friends, give Spider-Man an unmatched quality as an everyman character. Being caught up in Peter Parker’s life draws a character into a web of melodrama matched only by the most enduring of television soap operas.

Some fictional people, it seems, were made to suffer more than others though. That is why somehow it was both surprising and yet also fairly conventional when in the recently released Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1, we learned that May Parker now has breast cancer.

Aunt May is one of the must undeniably good characters in comics. She and her husband Ben took in young Peter when he was orphaned and raised him as their own. And then when Ben tragically died after Peter initially failed to take up the great responsibilities that great power had given him, Aunt May became a single parent.

It has always been a bit unclear what karmic debt May Parker owed to be given such a difficult challenge so late in life. But whatever it was, May continued to suffer. Throughout the early years of Spider-Man’s comic, Aunt May skirted along the edges of financial ruin while suffering from a number of ailments. Her physical condition was particularly frail. It seemed as though at any given moment, but usually the worst possible moment, Aunt May would keel over and head back to the hospital.

Of course, being part of Peter Parker’s life brings a lot of unusual shocks. Whether she was suffering from the debilitating effects of radioactive particles in her bloodstream after a blood transfusion from her nephew or passing out after seeing the clone of Peter’s dead girlfriend, Aunt May suffered far more than a person with an ordinary life.

Aunt May has even died a few times. But the first death was revealed to actually be a bizarre plot involving genetically modified actresses (honestly, you do not want me to explain that more) and the second was undone when Spider-Man made a deal with the devil.

In more contemporary times though, comic books had moved away from tormenting Aunt May with physical ailments. Oh, the struggles and strife did not cease. They never do when you know Peter Parker. However, May seemed more emotionally stoic and physically hardy. Marvel in general started to dovetail with the real world in which seniors were living longer and more active lives.

Now, with Marisa Tomei playing Aunt May in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have the ultimate expression of that. Yes, the joke where every male in sight flirts with her is rapidly becoming tiresome. But we finally have the most vital Aunt May there has ever been. She seems rather cool.

The superhero genre is a circular formula. Characters are forever being innovated in new directions that somehow ultimately return them to their classic states. Everything old is new again. Perhaps it is worthwhile to have Aunt May face the challenge of breast cancer. It draws attention to a real life challenge many women face. I just hope that any return to physical illness will not rob her of her new energy.

Nerd Factor: You Might be Dating a Space Alien

Dr Mike Robinson~UL Communication Studies Professor

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 12.21.27 AM.png

Space aliens can be a tricky bunch. Whether they take over human forms, or just imitating them like shape-shifting Skrulls, whether they are secretly infiltrating our society to take control, or just covertly studying us for research purposes, space aliens are unlikely to be forthcoming in their personal lives.  Because the Nerd Factor cares deeply about your emotional well-being, here are some tips for telling if you might really be dating a space alien:

Continue reading “Nerd Factor: You Might be Dating a Space Alien”

Nerd Factor: Splat Prevention System

Dr Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

The futuristic world of Star Trek is an imaginary universe full of all sorts of fantastic technologies. For decades, viewers have for example, thrilled to the imagery of various spaceships named Enterprise as they raced off at imagination defying warp speeds.  Phasers, transporters, replicators, and cloaking devices are now curiously familiar fictional inventions that do not exist yet still drive tales of creative exploration and spectacular adventure.

Continue reading “Nerd Factor: Splat Prevention System”