Cool Stuff: Batmobile Phone Case

I’m sure everyone has wondered what it would be like to have a batmobile cell phone that has incredible features with LED lights and such. Oh, just me? Maybe you’ll change your mind after this video.

While I could do without all of the over-the-top dubstep, and while it is definitely a novelty and not practical at all, it is pretty dang cool. Phones are getting pretty big anyways, whats a little bit more lost pocket room?

Let us know your thoughts! Please check out our Amazon Store, full of items that we recommend as Amazon Associates! 

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Blood Battle: Damian Wayne (Robin) vs Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond)

Back when Bruce Wayne was out of commission as a result of Final Crisis, there was a battle for the cowl. All of the Bat family for the title of Batman and eventually, Dick Grayson won out, as Damian became his Robin. However, there was no blood lost in that battle. Now, we pit the true sons of Batman against each other.

This week’s matchup: Terry McGinnis aka Batman Beyond VS Damian, the Son of Batman!

The Rules:

We’re putting both Terry and Damian at their best, even though they are not the same age. Both are relatively young in their superhero career and with separate backgrounds, both work with Bruce Wayne directly, and even though Damian becomes a future Batman in a more apocalyptic era, we’re gonna have him as Robin.

Sorry, Bloody Batman. You have to sit this fight out.
Sorry, Bloody Batman. You have to sit this fight out.

This is because there is no record of Terry working on his own as an older Batman, so their fight has to be comparable to the time under the guidance of Batman.

Damian Wayne

Talia Al Ghul and Bruce Wayne have spent plenty of time together, both as allies and enemies. However, when Bruce discovers he was drugged during one of their rendezvous, he comes face to face with something more frightening than some of the rogues he fights: Bruce discovers he has an illegitimate son with Talia. Only 10 years old and raised by the League of Assassins, Damian leads armies, uses swords, studies people and habits, and sadly, has killed.

The boy is ruthless.
The boy is ruthless.

Bruce both loves the boy and a darker reflection of himself and hates how he’s been raised. Taking him under his wing, Batman fights crime with his own Robin, going through the ups and downs of raising a child and trying to protect yet another Robin from the madness in Gotham. Although so young, Robin’s training both with the league and with Bruce Wayne has given him the ability to severely cripple thugs and the crime in Gotham.

Small, but not weak.
Small, but not weak.

Terry McGinnis

In the animated series universe, Batman has given up fighting crime at around late 40s to 50s. During one fight, Bruce’s body fails him, and to stop a murder, his only option is to reach for a gun. Frightened by his own desperation, he shuts down all Batman operations, to “never again” sink that low. Years pass, and a futuristic Gotham has corporate greed, more psychos, and a crime surge that the Gotham Police Department cannot keep up with. Enter Terry McGinnis, a sweet but roughly raised man in Gotham. He looses his father and look to Mr. Wayne for guidance. Instead, the work out a deal so that Terry can use the updated Batman suit and Bruce can guide him via comm links. What follows is the career of one of the most iconic Batmen. Terry’s suit is also equipped with cloaking, batarangs, a suit that can produce damaging shock waves, rocket boots, wings, and many more tools that have been created as a result of Bruce Wayne’s tenure as Batman. What makes Terry interesting is that he was adopted. Revealed in Justice League Unlimited’s “Epilogue” episode, Amanda Waller explains to Terry that he had been created using DNA from none other than Bruce Wayne.



Interesting enough, both boys were raised pretty rough. Damian’s training has given him a sense of royalty, but also has hardened him into not trusting anyone. Terry’s upbringing is in an even darker Gotham, where gangs of Jokers create chaos in the name of the prince of crime himself. In the odd scenario where we can put these two heroes head to head in a single timeline, Terry would fall prey to underestimating not only Robin, but to taking sympathy on a young boy. Most do this, and Damian takes advantage to surprise and subdue Terry. However, Damian can’t plan on the future, and Terry can usually outwit people using new gadgets. Size does matter, so physically, Terry can take and give out a bigger beating. Plus, Batman Beyond can use him environment better, both having fought people in the League of Assassins and with his creativeness in using the tools of the Bat. Damian’s abilities are never in question, but his rashness and stubbornness usually compromise him, leaving Terry to take this fight.


However, we’re also leaving this fight up to the readers! Who would win this fight? Twee to @Nerdswole and say whoever you think should win with the #BatmanBloodBattle and we’ll reveal the results during the next Blood Battle!

Nerdswole is at San Diego Comic Con!

You heard it right! Brian, Alex, and Erin will be at the swolest nerd event of the year: San Diego Comic Con 2014!

Of course, we’ll be on the show floor, waiting for panels, and hauling all sorts of swag. However, we’re also here to witness the big events. Keep checking up on the Nerd Swole homepage for live updates and articles about the breaking news and releases that will be unveiled here at San Diego Comic-Con! Starting Thursday, all three of us will be posting as often as possible up until Sunday to cover the convention and make it like you came here yourself!

Now, to add to the SDCC hype train, here’s a list our must-see panels and booths!


Every year I’ve been going to the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones panels because they always have good footage and bring out the entire cast to talk and answer questions. Both panels are always a fun time, the creators and cast seem to love the environment. Apart from that, I think everyone should be watching the Image Comics panels to see all the best of the best in the comics industry and to hear what’s new creative ideas are releasing soon.

The Walking Dead Panel 2013
The Walking Dead Panel 2013


I’m super excited about Saturday’s Hall H presentations. Hall H will have Marvel and Warner Brothers. I’m also extremely excited to test play Super Smash Bros 4 in the Nintendo lounge. However, my favorite activity is always looking at all of the amazing cosplay people do. Here are some examples from last year:

Otacon from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Otacon from the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Warriors of Asgard protecting Mjolnr.
Warriors of Asgard protecting Mjolnr.
Red Son Superman
Red Son Superman
Brian will be cosplaying this year, look out for his costume!


While the con itself was jam-packed with every fandom in existence, events and locales around the area were just as incredible. From the Nintendo Lounge (aka the mini-E3), the DC Charity Booth featuring custom KIA vehicles and auctioned off artwork, and even the Walking Dead obstacle course at Padres stadium, the whole city was alive with passion and excitement. Within the con, I can hardly wait for the Marvel and Warner Bros panels on Saturday, along with the premiere of Batman: Assault on Arkham!

Promotional Hobbit set piece from 2013.
Auctioned off Batman artwork.
And lastly, exclusives! Megaman & Megaman X from Capcom Booth!































Please feel free to contact me/us if you want to meet up at SDCC 2014!

Brian: @theTwentyTwo
Erin: @GuyNamedErin
Alex: @Bumsteezy


In Case You Missed It: JL8

Across the interwebs, you find some incredible things. Our feature on Questionable Content was one of those incredible webcomics and today, we’re showing off another great webcomic that wins the hearts of comic and non-comic fans alike.

This is JL8.

JL8 is a fan made comic about the young version of the Justice League. Writer and illustrator Yale Stewart puts out new issues on a weekly basis and works to make each comic snappy and enjoyable for all ages. Yale pulls great aspects from the characters rich histories and throws our tikes into odds situations that are easy to understand and a joy to see pan out. Whether you’re a die-hard comic fan, an avid viewer of the cartoons, a superhero movie buff, or even know of the character’s existence, there’s a lot to enjoy in these digestible comics.

The first issue introduced us to Bruce and Alfred, along with the type of humor we’re getting and the lighthearted world of DC.

The comics started out by casually introducing the kids and revealing them as heroes who are just youngsters with powers and daily struggles. The comic doesn’t take itself too seriously, but also maintains the integrity and history of the characters in play.


Later comics venture into arcs, such as recess, birthday parties, camping trips, and more. Along the way, there are nods everywhere to the DC history, which come in both subtle and obvious ways.


The serious moments are truly heartfelt and the comical moments knock you on the floor laughing. The comic always has a way with using the super moments to reveal how truly human these kids are. Batman is Bruce, Superman is Clark, Flash is Barry, and Wonder Woman is Diana. The costume becomes a melding of the real face and mask and Yale gives us a new look at some of our favorite characters.



To catch up with the series, you can check out and follow the official JL8 blog for the latest comics, or check out the archive for high quality images for every comic (great for new readers to catch up on).

And in case you aren’t a DC fan (which I wouldn’t believe after you’ve been through this article and seen JL8), Yale’s art has showcased Marvel characters, along with other commissions and projects he’s worked on. Here’s a sample.

Gambit & Rogue
Gambit & Rogue
Batman and Daredevil
Batman and Daredevil

Thanks for checking out this post and make sure to keep up with Nerdswole for new articles every week!

Batman’s New Look and What It Means for Man of Steel 2

Probably the biggest news this week (other than Jay-Z and Solange in the elevator) is the official reveal of Ben Affleck as Batman, alongside his Batmobile.

Yes, it's happening people.
Yes, it’s happening people.

So before I criticize or praise what I’ve seen, I just have one thing to say: Man, this guy is huge. Christian Bale was a muscular man but I wouldn’t describe him as large, especially compared to Tom Hardy’s Bane.


mtDcR - Imgur
Here’s the comparison of our modern Batmen.





Say what you will, but Affleck is looking closer to Batman’s physique in his own series, versus Bale looking closer to his Justice League appearances.

Here’s Batman in his own comics, clearly not skipping leg day.
Justice League (New 52) – We can see Batman is as slim as Green Lantern, Superman, and even Flash.

Why does the physique matter? Well, it tells the tale of different Batmen. Some fans (like myself) who see the Ben Affleck outfit see the small bat ears, a new Bat symbol in the middle, and biceps the size of melons. Bat fans know that the inspiration comes from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

1at-2 But as we know, the movie isn’t simply about the costume. We’ve known since International Comic-Con 2013 that the movie was to take inspiration from the alternate reality in which (SPOILER) Batman gave up the caped crusader life, only to return to save his city in his old age. The climatic finish is the duel between an elderly Superman and the jaded Batman. (END SPOILER) While this is the route the film could take, we have to remember that the anticipation is also coming from the myriad of characters Zack Snyder is placing into the hotly anticipated sequel. While Henry Cavill will return as the Man of Steel, he will be joined by Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and Ray Fischer as Victor Stone aka Cyborg. It’s a big movie that is both hoping to stand alone as an epic Batman/Superman film while also acting to set up an even larger film, Justice League. So with that in mind, here’s a few duels between the World’s Finest and what could be used as inspiration for the upcoming DC blockbuster.

You've been warned.
You’ve been warned.

Kingdom Come

This was the first story I though of after The Dark Knight Returns. Beautifully painted by the great Alex Ross and written by Mark Waid (along with Ross), Kingdom Come is another Elseworlds tale that takes place in the future. Superman and Batman are older, on opposing sides facing a doomed world and a conspiracy helmed by Luthor among other dastardly villains.

The four covers of Kingdom Come, showing the factions in the doomed world.
The four covers of Kingdom Come, showing the factions in the doomed world.

While Superman’s more titanic fight happens later with Captain Marvel, Clark and Bruce’s interactions can certainly influence the Affleck/Cavill dynamic. Their relationship will set the tone for the film, as they can team up or fight. tumblr_mnsld9QCuk1s62094o1_1280

Batman/Superman Movie

This is one of the few inspirations that are from TV, but it’s a plausible route for the 2016 movie. This animated movie is a combination of episodes from the Superman animated series, which pairs him with Batman from The New Batman Adventures. Their initial encounter is a sight to see and the movie follows both heroes fighting their arc villains, Joker and Lex Luthor, together.

Batman: Hush

Batman has been bogged down in his city, and only when Superman stops by does he look up from his troubled city to get some perspective. However, in Batman: Hush, Batman is dealing with a new serial killer and finds his sanity escapes him. Superman, becomes susceptible to Poison Ivy’s mind control and the two face off in a duel unlike any other. While this is a Batman story, you can get a sense of the brutality Bruce is dealing out and how it may tie into the darker Man of Steel series.


I’m more excited than the Ben Affleck haters and am just looking forward to how they will reincarnate Batman when we’ve had a great Batman in Christian Bale so recently.

What do you think of the new suit? Any thought of the duel of the World’s Finest? Leave them below in the comments and make sure to keep it locked on Nerdswole for all the latest in comics, movies, tv, and more!

Most Anticipated Comics of 2014

With MARVEL NOW reupdating for a new year with it’s ALL NEW #1s and DC continuing to released great titles on its New52 makeover, it’s a great time to be a comic book reader. Before we jump into 2014, let’s take a look back at the great year we just had.

What was one of the best titles from 2013?

Erin: I’ll be the one to shoutout to the small publishers/indie titles and say Saga from Image is hands-down one of the year’s best comics.  Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are basically creating the next Star Wars/LOTR epic and world that everyone should be experiencing.  It’s got adventure, emotion, wit, humor, flying sharks, and beautiful art. There’s something in this story for everyone and I think it’s worth for everyone to check out.

Brian: New Avengers. Drama? You got it. Funnies? You got it. Action? You got it. Lasting effects on the Marvel U? You bet your ass.

Alex: I’d have to see I was struggling between a few titles. Hawkeye, Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, Indestructible Hulk, Avengers, Thanos: Rising, and Uncanny Avengers were all standout titles for me, but Thor: God of Thunder had, without a doubt, captivated me with every issue. Esad Ribic’s  (Loki, Uncanny X-Force) beautiful art from the first two arcs are breathtakingly gorgeous. Jason Aaron’s grasp on Thor and the grandiose nature of his world is epic, as he handles time travel, the apocalypse, and three Thors with love and grace. It’s a gorgeous book that shouldn’t pass any comic book reader, fan of Thor or not.

The power of the art in Thor: God of Thunder has classical roots.
The power of the art in Thor: God of Thunder has classical roots.

Which title are you most disappointed with from 2013?

Erin: I mean other than the obvious Age of Ultron disappointment, I would say Teen Titans has been disappointing because it has never really gotten better. The ending of Battle of the Atom was disappointing and rushed. And while I love them, Guardians of the Galaxy has been a little disappointing, but not bad, because nothing has really happened in that book and I feel like Bendis and company have sort of brushed the team and their book to the side.

Brian: Had you asked me while I was in the middle of Iron Man say around issue 13 or so, I’d have said Iron Man probably. However, the ending of the secret origins of Tony Stark arc was really very interesting, whether you liked it or not, you most assuredly did not see it coming. I really felt like World’s Finest: Power Girl/Huntress had a chance to be really good and while it did improve, I couldn’t help but be disappointed still, with the dialogue still feeling forced, and the lack of balance and pacing. So I’m going with World’s Finest.

Alex: Even with Age of Ultron doing absolutely nothing after a shocking and promising start, I’d have to say Nova really let me down. Jeph Loeb (The Long Halloween, Marvel Colors series) is one of my favorite writers and he started Sam Alexander’s humble beginnings. We got some mysterious backstory and even some of the Gaurdians of the Galaxy showed up to help train our young Nova. However, the story lost some focus and when Loeb left after four or fives issues, I felt there was nothing really going on in the comic. Some issues were monotonous, revealing nothing about any characters. It seemed to be more of a set-up for New Warriors, which wasn’t that promising to begin with. The Infinity ties in gave Nova something to do, but the impact is still left to be seen. Nova lacks a lot of punch, and while it has heart, the story doesn’t develop. With young heroes like Alpha, Ultimate Spider-Man, and even the young X-men showing that youth is not a handicap, it’s a shame to see Nova do so little with a year under its belt.

Well enough about 2013. With a new year, we get new comics! Which title are you looking forward to continuing in 2014?

Erin: Very excited to continue with Hickman’s Avengers books after Infinity and everything he set up for the Avengers world. Hickman is clearly in for the long haul with his slow building Avengers story, so can’t wait to see what he comes up with this year. Also excited to just keep reading Scott Snyder’s Batman and see what he has in store this new year.

Brian: New Avengers. Avengers. Iron Man. Hawkeye. Fearless Defenders. Thor: God of Thunder. Forever Evil. Justice League. A lot. A bunch honestly.

Alex: Avengers, Thor: God of Thunder, Uncanny X-Men, Batman Beyond Universe, and Superior Spider-Man, along with Team-Up. With Amazing returning with an all new #1, I’m curious about how the new Goblin arc in Superior will lead into Amazing. And what will become of Superior?

Enemies until the bitter end.
Enemies until the bitter end.

Which new title are you excited to jump into this year?

Erin: I’m basically excited for all of the new “All-New Marvel NOW!” stuff. All-New X-FactorInhuman, and Black Widow especially. Don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep up a Black Widow solo title, but I’m really just in for Phil Noto’s art.

Brian: She-Hulk. I’m really excited for her to get a solo story again. I’ve been a huge fan of hers for awhile, and I’ve always thought she could be one of the faces of Marvel. And I think she can be a truly dynamic character if writer Charles Soule decides to do so. And while I like Javier Pulido’s work, I really wish that she was going to be drawn by Frank Cho or Amanda Conners. That’s a minor thing though, I think this book has a lot of potential.

What's not to love? We missed you Jenny.
What’s not to love? We missed you, Jenny.

Alex: I think Inhumanity has the biggest premise to be a lasting and important comic book event. The event is on the scope of Secret Invasion, but casts a tone that’s similar to X-Men. The #1 has a lot of earth shattering changes to cover and adds a lot of mystery to an already mysterious world of the Inhumans.

Last year, we saw Hawkeye take away an Eisner with Fraction and Aja’s incredible comic. Any predictions for surprise comic of the year?

Erin: I bet you that Forever Evil spins off into a new Lex Luthor series that becomes the best comic DC produces in years. It’s either that or a Cyborg title.

Brian: I legitimately have no idea. But here’s hoping it’s She-Hulk, because if it turned out a book I really wanted to be good actually was good, that’d be pretty dope.

Alex: I’m pretty unknown to the whole Inhuman side of Marvel myself. With Inhumanity shaking things up and Fraction taking the reigns on the new Inhumans comic, I see great potential in giving plenty of strangers new powers and seeing the world that’s created.

Stay tuned to NerdSwole with all the latest on comics, movies, games, TV, and all things nerdy!

Thoughts About Stuff: Superhero Ensemble Films

I love The Avengers. I do. I really do. That film is even in my top films in general not even just top superhero films. It has it’s moments where it’s not so good as well, but overall I loved it. I won’t lie about it though, I didn’t think it was going to be as good as it was. I was very skeptical about the whole 5 movies leading up to an ensemble movie thing. They shoehorned a lot of SHIELD stuff into Iron Man 2 and ruined what potentially could have been a very good movie, and made it meh. They made Captain America: The First Avenger very much about him eventually becoming the leader and first pick for the Avengers initiative when I felt he deserved so more time in the 40’s. I still enjoyed these movies though, because they were decent standalone films, the same goes for Thor. However, with all things considered, it took 5 films to set up these characters for the awesome mash-up. Now a lot of these other Marvel franchises that are owned by other companies are attempting to do the same. FOX wants to do this with X-Men and the rebooted Fantastic Four, and Sony wants to do something within the Spider-Man franchise. WB and DC of course have their Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman/Invite the whole league thing going on. I just don’t think it’s a good idea though.

If you ask me, the flaw of the X-Men franchise is not that they didn’t have enough characters, it’s that they only bothered to really develop Wolverine. Which is a shame, because we possibly could have had a female lead superhero film, because the X-Men are populated with some of the most powerful ladies in all of the Marvel U. For example, most people were excited when Days of Future Past was announced I, personally, was not, simply because the title is in a lot of ways misleading, and their isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. Avengers: Age of Ultron is named after a story line that is a piece of hot garbage. However, Joss Whedon has come out and said that it’ll be almost nothing like the comic arc. This is almost guaranteed to be your face after reading Age of Ultron.

And those aren’t rain drops. Imagine them being tears of other people who also read Age of Ultron.

Going back to Days of Future Past though, the story is not supposed to be a Wolverine heavy story line. FOX has decided to make it the case though. Where instead of Kitty Pryde going back in time with her consciousness, which they easily could have done, they decide that sending Wolverine back through time using some crazy method they’re going to make up makes more sense somehow. X-Men: First Class was in my opinion the best of the X-Men franchise. While it had crazy inaccuracies, deviated from the books, and retconned a bunch of stuff from the previous films, they also had a bunch of cool characters, they actually took time to develop, and not just they’re relationship to Wolverine (i.e. the first 3 X-Men films.) This is pretty much why everyone hates Cyclops if I’m being completely honest, he wasn’t developed as a character, he was developed in a way that just made him someone who annoys the hell out of Wolverine. They always disagree, this is true, but they were still teammates with some rifts here and there up until a recent event in the comics (Schism 2011). See, the name Days of Future Past is a trap, because you get attracted by all of the names listed and the name of the movie, but I’m 90% sure because they changed the person going back in time it is going to be extremely Wolverine heavy. I’m telling you, ITS A TRAP.

We’re all birds, in the studio’s grand schemes.

Spider-Man? I’m going to go ahead and say, I’m pretty indifferent about the reboot. I think the The Amazing Spider-Man is just a rip-off of Batman Begins with a Spider-Man twist. You could argue that all superhero movies are the same, but let’s look at it for a quick second. The main bad guy in some way or another trains the protagonist. Both heroes decide that it is worth it in somehow to reveal their secret identity to the one that they love. The main bad guy has a plot that involves some toxins and shit to make the world the way they want it. However about this whole Sinister Six thing? I simply think that they should have learned from Spider-Man 3. Too many characters, scattered story, not enough development. There was a lot of hope for Spider-Man 3 and this is what many people feel like they got:

Wrecking ball? Or blindsided by an average movie after high expectations.

Ah. That leaves DC and WB and their plans for Justice League. A lot of the complaints for Man of Steel stem from the fact that it was too different from Superman movies in the past. Some people like the new direction some don’t. Most people, myself included simply wanted to see more Clark Kent and the Daily Planet, and Superman being Superman. As opposed to this whole zipping around the whole world doing whatever it takes that is normally reserved for Batman. I’ve always thought what made Superman great, was that he always does two things when most others can only do one thing, and sometimes even when he can’t. He’s flying to go fight Darkseid? He’ll probably still stop by California to stop an earthquake. OK thats a bit dramatic, but that’s Superman, big blue has never forgotten about the little guy, but he seemed to do that a lot in Man of Steel. I don’t have a problem with him killing Zodd really, I have a problem with him taking so long and letting so many people die before coming to said decision. To him, he won’t kill people because people may not know better, but he realizes that he’s essentially a god among men, and Zodd is the same, and he had a choice, and his choice was to be a dictator, so Superman killed Zodd. However, it still took him an hour of screen time fighting and a leveling of Metropolis to decide this. Basically, I could say a lot of things I dislike about Man of Steel, but they had a perfectly good opportunity to adjust these things in a sequel, or just explain some of the gaps. It teased that in a lot of ways with that whole Clark Kent thing at the end, but with the inclusion of a new Batman and Wonder Woman? They’re going to find a way to fit those characters in with Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburn still signed on to play their roles? Where Amy Adams signed on to co-lead this franchise as Lois Lane, she’ll likely take a backseat to Batman and Wonder Woman, which is really unfortunate.

I’m guessing Amy Adams’ and Laurence Fishburn’s response was similar to this after reading the script.

Ok, here is where I do my Brian thing. I’m not saying these films are guaranteed to be bad or mediocre. They could potentially blow the pants off of me. However, it all seems very rushed, with the exception of Spider-Man because that is planned to be after a trilogy is in place. It just seems like these studios are convinced that an ensemble expanded universe is what made The Avengers a successful movie. It’s not though. The Avengers is simply a good film. You can watch the film by itself, without having watched the previous 5, they just enrich the experience. Sure, the shock and awe of the cast probably brought in a good percentage of the box office, but I guarantee the word of mouth was amazing. I saw the film, and I had to tell everyone I knew to watch it. Essentially, this was me:

Exactly what I did inside the theater.

I’d be perfectly happy to be wrong about the other films. I hope these films prove me wrong and are masterpieces that make me need to change my pants. But something tells me the studios are OK with making mediocre movies as long as they make enough money, and will continue to do so until the money stops.

As always, please sound off and feel free to disagree with me on here, facebook, twitter, or any other platform. Also, share this or any of my other articles, and I’ll give you the wink and the gun, or shake your hand. I’ll even let you choose.

twitter: @thetwentytwo

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My Fortress of Solitude (And How to Find Your Own)

For those of you that don’t know me, I’ve been going through a huge transition in my life for the past month or so. After growing up and going to school in Virginia for 22 years, I moved out of Virginia and the East Coast almost 2 months ago and am now living in Northern California, in the Bay Area near San Francisco in hopes of starting a fresh, exciting life. As with any big move, getting to the point where you feel comfortable and in a place that “you can call home” takes time, bravado, and lots of patience. I’ve realized that it’s very easy to take for granted the place you live in and how the knowledge of your environment is one of the best examples of knowledge is power. That’s what compelled me to write about finding your own “Fortress of Solitude” this week (coincidentally, Man of Steel comes out on Blu-ray/DVD this week also), so let me tell you a story.

Where I’m now living in Union City, there are hills EVERYWHERE. Literally, you get on the highway, and less than a mile away are hills and houses on hills bordering your drive. Union City is part of the East Bay area, about 40 miles away from San Francisco. Although getting around is fairly easy, it still takes a lot of time, and so naturally, when I’m looking for things to do or have time to kill, I’ve made it a point to tour and hike every one of these hills that I’ve passed by. Last week, I woke up early one morning and decided to visit Castro Valley, north of Union City, and hike around Chabot Regional Park. And that’s where I found my fortress.

The hike itself started a little unusually. I drove through the winding roads in the hills looking for an access point, and finally parked after already reaching a high altitude. When I walked to the gate, it was locked. I stood there contemplating and fidgeting with the lock to see if it was a mistake or if it was trying to feign inaccessibility. I tried to stay optimistic about the legality of breaching the gate and whether or not I would “get in trouble” if I just hopped over it or climbed under. The whole time, though, I pictured this:

It seemed like it took an hour for me to decide, but finally my daring for adventure took over my obedience for the rules and I climbed over. It wasn’t simple, the gate moved and swung while I tried to hop over and it seemed even more obvious that this gate was  not meant to be breached. But moving on.

Hiking the hill gave me the same sense of joy that a bird must feel after being let out of a cage. The sun was glimmering through thin clouds and nearby was a small creek that revealed more and more of itself the higher I climbed. I followed the path up and around the hills, trusting it as I would my own best friend to lead the way. After 20 minutes or so, I reached an abrupt stopping point.


I found a dead end. As you can see above, the path led me all the way to this giant austere circle, with no sign of a path leading out of it around all 360 degrees of its edge. I walked around, stood in the middle of the circle, stomping in random spots as if I had just discovered some secret lair or burial ground. I searched meticulously for hidden signs engraved in the dirt or some sort of pattern that Nathan Drake would come across in his adventures. “Surely this part of the park and trail would lead back to the bottom!” I thought. But nothing, the only things surrounding the circle were heavy forests and what seemed like untouched ground. The opposite side of the circle looked like this:


More untouched ground, with a slight downhill slope as if to signify the end of the climb. I inched my way through the weeds and yet found nothing. No signs, no messages, no hidden doors. Eventually I let go of the possibility that I could be in some Indiana Jones movie and decided to look up and soak in the view.


From the edge, right before I would tumble straight into bushes and trees and certain death, this is what I could see. Nature at its finest. Beauty in its most raw form. For what seemed like hours, I stood there, staring into the distance, looking for answers in the horizon, thinking about everything that I had just experienced. Thoughts about my family, friends, my new home, the frustrations of starting a new life, the joys of starting a new life, the struggles of being a small kid in a big city, my loads of laundry I had to finish, the Redskins’ upcoming game against the Vikings – everything was running around in my mind, and I did my best to resolve and introspect on each issue. I then forced myself to stop; I forced myself to clear my mind and think of nothing (which I probably have never done before in my life). I won’t say that I succeeded, in some sort of euphoric and epiphanic way, but it worked to some extent. For a least a split second, I found myself just staring at trees, soaking in my place in time and my place in the universe. I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t necessarily feel happy, but I felt something. I wanted to cry, I wanted to smile, I wanted to laugh and scream all at the same time. It was perfect, it was something I didn’t realize I needed until I experienced it.

I could have stayed and stood there for days, but eventually it was time to go. Before I left, I was compelled to leave a mark, leave some sort of sign that I had been there as if to thank Mother Nature or remind myself for my next visit. So, I left the ground untouched no more:


It was then that I decided that this place would be my Fortress of Solitude. Sure, it was a public park and I probably should have been locked out, but it seemed fitting to give it that title. I might have my own bedroom or my own office, but those places are almost too private, and serve a much different function. Much like Clark/Superman’s fortress, I had found a place right out in the open, unprotected save for an old, rusty gate with a lock. At the very least, for that morning, it seemed that I was the only one who wanted to jump that gate and climb that hill, and that’s all that mattered. When Superman goes to his Fortress of Solitude, he knows he’ll be safe and alone there, alone to think, ruminate, and introspect. And that’s exactly what I had found, a place that allowed me to experience something that I could barely put into words above. I might not ever go back there, or maybe I’ll go every week, but when I need it, that hill and that dead end will be there. I might even find another hill that will give me the same experience, but now I know how my metaphorical Fortress of Solitude defines itself.

The point is that somewhere, my Fortress of Solitude exists, and so does yours. Maybe yours is on a hill, maybe it’s in a park, maybe it’s near the grave of a loved one, or maybe it’s in a library, but I guarantee you it is somewhere. When the world seems  like it’s crashing down, when the weight of everything is about to flatten your entire body, when there seems to be no answer for the questions you keep asking, I dare you to explore. Explore places you’ve been or never been, do something that has a lot of meaning to you, and I guarantee you will find your Fortress of Solitude. Then all your troubles will simply feel like a light breeze. You might find answers, you might think of hundreds of solutions, but you’ll definitely feel free and blissful. For me, hiking and exploring nature has always been meaningful, so it only made sense that I could find my Fortress of Solitude in a hill in California.

For someone like me, it’s really easy to get lost in the day-to-day flow of things and keep your foot on the gas pedal. If it’s been awhile since you’ve slowed down, I encourage you to find your next chunk of free time and search for your own fortress. Rather than go online or sit on the couch, take some alone time and soul search. Even if you don’t think you need it. For me, it gave me a sense of comfortability and belonging that has been scarce since I moved here. Whatever you’re searching for or missing, your Fortress of Solitude will be able to do the same and give it to you.

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3 Hard Truths about Being a Nerd

It’s not all hot neighbors next door and going to space for your everyday nerd. Some days are monotonous, some days are fantastic. Some are busy, others are incredibly lazy. Some are just terribly difficult. But it’s your life. Being a nerd is your gift and it is your curse, so here are a few wake up calls, a few things you already know, and an incredibly well put together photo set…… well two out of three ain’t bad.

1) You may be the only one in the room who knows what you’re talking about, but you’re never truly alone.

Some people are pretty attuned to some nerdy stuff. Game of Thrones? That fandom is blowing up.

Obviously a picture of the AC Black Flag ship, but the people below are wrapped all around the building, docks, and neighborhood in San Diego to get into the Game Of Thrones Panel.
Obviously a picture of the AC Black Flag ship, but the people below are wrapped all around the building, docks, and streets in San Diego to get into the Game Of Thrones Panel.

So maybe the crew you roll with (high school buddies, party girls on Friday night, gamers who assemble every night) may not be into what you’re into. No one will truly understand how remarkable Final Fantasy II was for setting thing up for the more widely known Final Fantasy II (IV). It’s just your thing and sometimes that’s tough to have no one to talk to about things. People dish about everything from gossip, sports, friends, family, movies, and to not talk about something you’re passionate about with others is a real tough thing to do. Fear not; as with all sorts of love, there’s someone out there for everybody. Maybe it takes getting to know a community through online forums, or proudly flaunting your swag for the world to see. Sometimes it helps that you show what you love to others and hope the connection sparks. While you may be the only person in the room who knows what you’re talking about, there’s some person’s spidey-sense tingling because you mentioned his/her favorite character just happens to be yours as well (Freya Crescent).

2) No matter what, you cannot take in everything.

There is always another game, another comic, another movie, another TV show, another site. Every nerd is a nerd, but interests varies and in this day and age, there’s something for everyone. Almost too much. Ain’t nobody got money for that. We are people who consume, we digest, and we crave more. You can’t simply absorb everything without sacrificing something else. As with almost all hobbies, it’s good to have a flow, have some order, and gradually pick up something. Maybe treat yourself to a sports game a month or two. Subscribe to one MMO, not 27. Gauge what you can do and enjoy things while you do them. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much to do or rush to do things too quickly to only crave more moments later. You’re a nerd, and that’s a good thing. So take off your coat, sit down, and enjoy being nerdy. Even if you caught up to everything you wanted to watch, there’s always something new on the horizon, and something old to be discovered.

Your thirst for awesome things is endlessly and helplessly on repeat. Ad infinitum.

3) Life isn’t how it seems in fiction.

The opposite sex. Jobs. Family. Success. It’s all relative and varied. If it’s some media you like, there’s two things wrong with imagining that’s how things really are.

1) If fiction is based on a person’s real life, it’s not your life. No two people are alike. No two relationships are alike. It’s impossible to compare and believe that things can go one way exactly; it just doesn’t happen. While it’s all fine and dandy to be inspired, find solace, and relate to things happening in your favorite show, movie, or book, it’s important to realize you’re your own person and you do what you want. You can idolize Thor all you like for all his heroics and learned humility,  but that doesn’t mean you should have Shakespearian arguments with your family.

2) It’s fiction. It’s written, directed, shot, drawn, designed, manufactured by another nerd. This is what they created because things needed to be this way. For the characters, for the universe, for the story. But not specifically for you. It connects with you, but it’s not you, and it’s not real. It seems like a silly point since it’s clearly fiction, but reaching to relatable characters and seeing what could be, it can leave one to hope.

Sorry. Yeah....nope. Never'll happen.
Sorry. Yeah….nope. It’ll never happen. (Click To Enlarge)

So it’s not real. You don’t have powers, crazy proportions, gateways to other realms, hit-men after your corpse, or balloons with your cartoony appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But you have you. You have a blank slate to be what you can be. Enjoy the things in your life for what they are. And quit whining about things that can’t be, like a good Green Lantern live action movie, or for Peach to stop getting kidnapped.

Why I Am Not Excited for Man of Steel 2 (Batman vs. Superman)

For a second I thought about making an article with that title and just posting a picture of Ben Affleck and call it a day, but that would be mean. The truth is, I was hating on this yet-to-be-released film (which I recognize is absurd) way before good ol’ Ben was announced to don the cape and cowl. When I went to Comic-Con in San Diego this past summer, Warner Bros. first announced that Man of Steel 2 would feature Batman and be loosely inspired by the seminal The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Whereas a lot of fans in the audience and other Con-goers seemed to love the idea, I first thought “That’s really cool!”, leading to “Man, Warner Bros. sucks” a second later.

To get this out of the way, I am not going to review Man of Steel and talk about why it was good/not good. All I’ll say is that I really enjoyed the film and everything it did to set up for a sequel. Like Batman BeginsMan of Steel for me was a thoughtful, promising look into Superman and everything about his character. That’s the main reason why I began to cringe and curse when I found out Batman will be in Man of Steel 2. Say what you will, but I think the inclusion of Batman will only take away from Superman’s character and everything that Man of Steel the first tried to accomplish. Clark now has to share screen time AND screen story with Bruce, so matter how you think about it, Clark’s own personal story will have to suffer because of the added major character. We got hints of Lex Luthor, kryptonite, Supergirl, and Clark Kent the Daily Planet reporter. Now you’re telling me they have to include Batman, a huge, complex character, into a new film with all of that in only 2 years? Don’t get me wrong, I love Batman a lot, but HE HAD HIS OWN TRILOGY! Why can’t Clark own his own set of movies without Bruce having to swoop in and share screen time? Man of Steel was controversial for sure, but it showed that DC and Warner Bros. could maintain him on the silver screen. The way the first movie set up for a new story with more Daily Planet, more Clark Kent in glasses, more secret identity balance, more complex villains was only heading to a smarter and interesting direction, turning Man of Steel 2 into a modern Superman movie that would have felt more familiar and thus, more enjoyable to a wider audience. I think some of the “modern” and unique direction that Zack Snyder and team took with Man of Steel drove away some old fans and new fans, but it was all looking to create a better balance of the familiar mythos and a fresh interpretation with the sequel. Even if this new film is supposed to be loosely inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, the point is that story is a Batman story, not a Superman one, and I fear that a lot of the heart and character of Superman that we saw in the first film will now be lost because he’s going to be too busy worrying about Bruce Wayne.

This all leads to the idea that DC and Warner Bros. have a Batman problem, which really just means that they can’t let go of Batman as their #1 money-maker. And I guess it’s hard to blame them, since Batman has appeared in more movies, comics, TV shows, games, and really all kinds of media more than any other superhero in the past decade. Batman is dark, interesting, tough, funny; more than a testament to his character, what matters is the fact that creators are just able to more easily create compelling stories about Batman. But that’s part of the problem! DC has taken very little risks, and sometimes when they do, they abandon ship at the first sign of failure. I understand that people need money, but this is Superman for Pete’s sake, he’s the original boy in blue tights! There is no doubt that including Batman in Man of Steel 2 will make the movie a bigger cash cow than it would have been originally, but to sacrifice what could have been a new purely Superman franchise seems like a waste to me.

Okay, okay, so let’s say we’re now fine with the idea that Man of Steel 2 will basically be Batman vs. Superman. I’m not going to lie, I’m going to be a giddy little nerd boy the moment I see Batman and Superman on the same screen, in the same movie, at the same time.


Yes, just like every other nerd in existence, I too was furious and confused by the casting of Ben Affleck for Bruce Wayne/Batman. There is speculation that someone wants Mr. Affleck to direct a Justice League movie, and of course Mr. Affleck will not direct a movie that he is not also acting in, so thus, we have a Batman. But really, he had to be Batman? He couldn’t be Aquaman or the new Hal Jordan or even Booster Gold? We’ve seen outrage like this before with Heath Ledger as Joker, but I was not mad at all about that, and Ben is different because he tried to be a superhero already. Yeah, Daredevil suffered from a good script/story/everything, but Ben Affleck’s performance didn’t really help the movie at all. I can see Ben being a brooding, take-no-shit Bruce Wayne, but I can’t really see him under the cape and cowl fighting thugs (and Superman no less) and being acrobatic.

But that’s what we have to deal with. I know, it’s pointless to criticize a movie before it has even been released, but as you all have come to know, I love Superman very dearly. His impact on me is what I want other people to experience, whether that’s through film, book, or what have you. With the direction Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. are going with Man of Steel 2, I can’t help but feel disappointed again that yet another Superman story might fall short of inspiring people like stories in the past have inspired me. I always like to stay optimistic, and I’m waiting for 2015 movies as much as the rest of the world, but for now, this film has lost my excitement.