Tag Archives: Dark Knight

The Duality of Comic Characters

What I like to refer to as the duality of characters, in which long standing characters are often defined in two very different, and in some instances opposite, manners has existed in comics for many decades. It’s still the same character and yet they can be very different. So what’s the deal?

batman_Adam_WestThe most well known example of this is Batman.  Most comic fans, and in fact many non-comic fans will recognize “The Dark Knight” and “The Caped Crusader” as nicknames for Batman. Not only are these nicknames, but they have become a large part of the Batman mythos. Most people will associate the Caped Crusader with the old Adam West 1966 Batman television show. The show was definitely about Batman, but it was campy, goofy and generally light hearted fun. Since then, the Caped Crusader has come to represent the kinder, gentler Batman who carries shark repellent on his utility belt. The Dark Knight on the other hand, lives up to his name. In my lifetime this has been exemplified by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises), but this version of Batman is closest to the original. Until the Comics Code, Batman had a decidedly dark and gritty feel to it, taking much from its Depression era roots. This Batman is far more aggressive and is willing to go to much greater lengths if it enables him to take down the villain. Continue reading

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Comics

Around the Web May 16, 2014

Knowing how much we all love Game of Thrones, NicksplosionFX has combined that love with the cultural icon Super Mario. This this video, Nicksplosion faithfully recreates the introduction to GoT, except that he replaces locations like Kings Landing and Winterfell with various sites from the Mario classic Super Mario World.

I’m also pretty amused by the 8-bit soundtrack he decided to include. It’s a nice touch.

By now I’m sure everyone is aware that Harrison Ford has joined on for Star Wars VII, VIII, and IX, along with Carey Fisher and Mark Hamill. What is nearly as exciting is that Ford will also be reprising his role as Rick Deckard in the sequel to Blade Runner. Ford has made it clear that he was very interested in returning to the role, and recently Alcon Entertainment has made a public offer for Ford to do just that.

He say you Blade Runner!

He say you Blade Runner!

Not only is Harrison Ford on board, but Ridley Scott has also signed on to the project. Scott directed the original 1982 classic.

If you have been living under a rock for the last week, then you missed the internet going crazy over pictures of Ben Affleck as Batman. While many people were busy discussing the newly redesigned Batmobile, several others couldn’t help but start nitpicking Batman’s costume. Now admittedly, the costume looks pretty crappy, especially given how great the costume was in the Dark Knight Trilogy, but it’s also distinctly possible that this costume was made up just to take these pictures and was done so in a hurry. This wouldn’t be the first time that something released way before the film looks like crap. Anyone remember the teaser trailer for Spider-Man?

This trailer was total crap and the movie was just fine so I think the internet just needs to take a deep breath.

Wrapping up this week, we’ve got a brief history of the arcade game. Going all the way back to 1909 and the invention of Skee-Ball, we track the progression through pinball and Pac-Man to the modern era of arcade gaming. Even though it’s brief, there are some great little bits of trivia jammed in there, such as the fact that Skee-Ball lanes were originally thirty six feet long (a little over half the length of a bowling lane).

Ms-pacman

I’d love to have a couple old arcade games, but they’re a little pricey. But hey, if anyone wants to donate one to the Therefore I Geek cause (working or not), I’m game for it.

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Filed under Around the Web, Weekly

Being A Geek

This is an origin story.  I take quite a bit of pride in being a geek, though admittedly it hasn’t always been that way. When I was young, other kids mocked me for my love of science and my slow evolution into a geek.  As I got older, I started to realize what was cool to other kids and what wasn’t.  I would often make fun of things I loved to in order to try to fit in. Finally though, I came to understand that I needed to embrace who I was and just be myself. As I became more confident in my own identity, I lost any doubt that I was a geek, and I began to wonder what exactly that was, and by extension, what made me one. 

If Prof. Indy say it, it must be true.

If Prof. Indy says it, it must be true.

Indiana Jones himself said that 90% of archeology takes place in the library, so I figured I’d start where all great investigations start:  the dictionary. Sure enough, I found a pretty good definition of geek from Webster’s English Language Learner’s Dictionary:

1 : a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people

2 : a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

It is the second definition that I found the far more interesting, as it supports my own definition of geek, which is: “a person who exhibits a certain, highly elevated degree of passion for a particular topic, which is often outside the mainstream.” For me, being a geek is about learning about and doing the things that I love—regardless of what they are—and finding people that share those same interests with whom to exchange knowledge.

From either my personal definition, or Webster’s, one could infer that any person could be a geek about anything, but that isn’t entirely true. There aren’t exercise geeks or stock market geeks, but there are people who are very interested in and extremely knowledgeable about both (they are called something different).

So what then makes an activity geeky? What allows those that partake in it to proudly bear the title of geek correctly?

The first important characteristic is that it is outside the mainstream of popular culture. This doesn’t mean it has to be way outside the norm, but there does need to be some degree of separation; think the classic stereotype of jocks vs. geeks. For example, playing video games is a pretty common pastime for many people in their teens and twenties—and even some older ones as well. While gaming has become more popular, I would argue that only a limited number of games would be considered truly mainstream, such as Halo or Call of Duty. Though there are millions of casual gamers, Geeks play their games religiously for hours on end, until they know exactly which weapon to use under what circumstances and the exact terrain of every map.

This guy knows every map.

This guy knows every map.

Another great example, and a personal favorite of mine, is comic books. Thanks to movies such as Avengers, the Dark Knight trilogy, and Man of Steel, superheroes appear in our culture and our minds like no other time in their history. I can barely walk down the street or go out to dinner without seeing someone wearing a Batman t-shirt or an ad for Iron Man. But while our society is almost saturated with these characters, the comic books in which they all originate are still largely ignored and in some cases even looked down upon. On the silver screen, these characters are accepted and even adored, but the comic books have never become a social norm.

What separates the average person with perhaps a passing interest in a geeky subject and the true geek, is also the zeal with which they embrace their subject.  There are plenty of people who have read graphic novels such as Watchmen as part of a high school or college class, but unless they became instant fans, just reading doesn’t make them geeks. The geek who deserves the title is the World of Warcraft player who jumps online for a raid, sick as a dog, because there is a slight chance at picking up the rare item he’s coveted for months, or who drives to his local comic stores every week, regardless of the weather, to get his weekly books (I think hurricane conditions are the only ones that have kept me home—a badge of honor.).

I would even have to consider a small, select group of Twilight fans as geeks. This does not apply to most of them. But there are those select few who demonstrate the necessary ardor. Those who pick Team Edward or Team Jacob, talk about the books and movies non-stop, and even ruined comic con for more than a few people. These people are geeks too, albeit annoying ones (Lord, give me strength!). Geekhood is about the passion, and they have it in abundance.

Although the pursuit of knowledge in and of itself is not geeky, a thirst for geeky knowledge is another defining aspect of a geek.  I have seen comic geeks, driven by passion for a particular subject, dig through box after box of back issues just to find a random appearance of their favorite character. The drive needed to persist at this task is impressive (If you disagree, try it for a few hours.  It is way harder than you think. I know; I’ve done it several times). What impresses me even more is that they knew their favorite character could be found in these random and seemingly unrelated titles.  Any ordinary person can read the main comics that focus on their favorite person, but a true geek takes the time and spends the energy to research even non-speaking, background appearances.  To a geek, the acquisition of information is sometimes even more important than the information itself.

Not only do we gather vast storehouses of semi-useless trivia, we also love to share our knowledge, both among those who appreciate it and unsuspecting friends and relatives. There are countless fan sites and forums dedicated to nearly every type of fandom, no matter how seemingly insignificant.  For the consumer desperate to know what was different between the Megatron figure released in Japan and the one in the US, there is someone out there who knows that difference, and will enthusiastically share it.  I myself am quite proud to admit that I own not one, but two different Star Trek Encyclopedias.  My friends have even placed bets on me in a Star Wars trivia contest at New York Comic Con, though sadly I didn’t go nearly as far as they’d hoped.

I have also learned specialized skills, such as dice based probability, that almost completely lack practical application… Except, of course, figuring out the odds of making a successful roll in Warhammer 40K in seconds flat.

The downside of this quasi-savant status, is that geeks have a bit of a “tough love” stereotype when it comes to people who are new and don’t know everything yet.  Reality is that while there are a few jerks with a pathological need to feel superior by belittling people who know less than they, the overwhelming majority of geeks out there are more than happy to share their knowledge and experience, and educate those who are new to geekhood or expanding their existing geek horizons.

It’s the passion that drives geeks to do these things even though they are not something that the rest of society considers normal.  It is important, then, to realize that the same passion that makes a person identify with geeks everywhere should make him proud of his status.  I was once told by a coworker that I shouldn’t mention my love of comics to women because it is creepy. TO HELL WITH THAT! This who I am and I’m not going to hide it or apologize for it just because it’s something that someone doesn’t want to see. We live in a modern society on foundations built by famous geeks—Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for two—and it’s time we stand up and be proud of who we are.  My name is Andrew, I’m a geek, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life