Henchman Hints

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Getting started on any career path is challenging, but first steps in the super-crime business are particularly problematic. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who survive accidents with weird radiation, who discover ancient artifacts that unlock secret mystic powers, or who stumble upon alien space weapons, then chances are you will not be starting right at the top. That means you’ll be a henchman, and “henching” is hard.

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Nerd Factor: All’s Well That Endgames Well?

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

[Warning: Spoilers for this summer’s Marvel movies]

     Hurrah! Happy ending! Thanos is beaten and all is well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mean sure, heroic sacrifices were made and all that, but such things should be expected when the ultimate evil is engaged. The important thing is that things are back to normal.

     Avengers: Endgame was a movie built upon time travel hijinks and superhero brawls. At three hours long, one certainly can understand that not every aspect of the temporal dilemmas and not every question about alternate universe experiences were addressed in it. Spider-Man: Far From Home did take on some of the problems of half of the world’s population being returned to life after five years. However that exposition was abandoned in favor of a summer class trip inspired adventure. 

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Nerd Factor: Awkward Easter Bunny Photos

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication

When I arrived at the restaurant, Thanos was nowhere to be seen. Thanos is a notoriously difficult interview to get. He does not do the usual press junkets.  He did not really sit down with anyone to promote his last movie. The popular theory on this reluctance is that Thanos is not actually real. I had factored that into my interview plan, of course, but this was still too good of a chance to pass up.

Thanos’ absence was one thing, but my more immediate worry was the restaurant itself.  Oh, it was a fine establishment with some old school art deco touches and a particularly pleasant outdoor eating area in the back that despite being private felt like dining in a vast garden.

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Nerd Factor: Awkward Easter Bunny Photos

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Illustration by Nicole Freewalt 

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

In malls across the country, kids are lining up for the annual tradition of the photo with the Easter Bunny.  In recent years, another tradition has sprung up in parallel with this ritual. Thanks to internet sites and social media, it is also time for the annual sharing of awkward Easter Bunny photos. Pictures of overwhelmed little kids encountering the terrifying costumed rabbits fire about cyberspace to the amusement of viewers everywhere.

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Nerd Factor: Shazam!

Dr Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication

This weekend, Shazam makes his first return to the big screen since his 1941 movie serial. Here are some useful things to know about thunderous homecoming.

He is the Original Captain Marvel:  Shazam’s name is a tricky tale of corporate skullduggery and trademark carelessness.  When the character debuted in Fawcett Comic’s Whiz Comics #2 in 1940, Bill Parker and C.C. Beck’s creation had already faced a number of name changes and finally settled in as “Captain Marvel.”  That seems strange to us today because we habitually divide the superhero universes up between DC and Marvel. But back then, DC was mostly called National Comics and Marvel was known as Timely.  

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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.

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