Can “nerd culture” even be said to truly exist when so much of it is thoroughly mainstream these days? Certainly, looking at the last 12 months of our entertainment coverage, comic-book inspired stories seemed to make up the bulk of it, filling out the year like a superheroic underpant bulge. Here’s what we made of it all…
We started the year with Martin Robinson’s piece explaining why dudes in Star Trek costumes are fair game for ridicule, while men cosplaying as their favorite football players are considered perfectly acceptable. Spoiler alert: If you’re obsessed with endless stats, facts and figures about your favorite team, you’re just as much of a colossal, boring dweeb as that guy dressed as Legolas.
White kids dressing up as Black Panther: Awesome or problematic? Tim Grierson grappled with this and other questions posed by the year’s most fun blockbuster.
With Black Panther destroying the box office, Tarik Jackson took a moment to remind us that it was far from the first black superhero movie. “That first scene when he beheads a whole club of vampires with a double-edged sword blade was my day-to-day fantasy,” he gushed about Blade. “I would take my momma’s leather jacket and my sisters’ black Barbie shades and walk around the house tossing my frisbie like it was Blade’s knife. It was fucking awesome.” Fun fact: Jackson still walks around the MEL office dressed like that.
If you ever doubt MEL’s geek cred, read Brian VanHooker’s elegy for the bankrupt toy mega chain. If we’re completely honest, we mostly just ran this as an excuse to show the photos of VanHooker’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle collection that fills his entire basement. Cowabunghole!
Because what is a nerd if not someone looking to rigidly define the things they love? “A nerd is somebody so lost in their own idiosyncrasies they have forgotten how to communicate with the rest of us, which is why the late Stephen Hawking, though a brilliant astrophysicist, wasn’t a nerd: he changed how we think of black holes, but he was prouder of appearing on The Simpsons and loved strip clubs. A true nerd would be Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is oddly compelled to ruin holidays with pedantic tweets,” argued Miles Klee.
With the launch of Superman-before-Superman-was-even-born SyFy show Krypton, I picked the most memorable superheroic origin stories, from the best to the weirdest to the most tedious. Warning: It involves copious amounts of mongoose blood.
I also looked back on centuries of undies-over-pants men’s fashion to try and figure out why the look ended up being reserved only for superheroes (and runners, if a certain 2014 edition of Runner’s World is to be believed).
So argued Grierson in his exploration of just how mainstream superhero movies have become. Also, Grierson’s mom will 100 percent fight you, so be warned.
…asked Ian Lecklitner while laughing nervously and deleting his internet history. Turns out: LOTS of people.
When you’ve built a global fan base on the idea of not giving two shits what anyone thinks, how do you then successfully cater to that fan base with a sequel while staying true to the spirit of the enterprise? Grierson had some thoughts.
John McDermott showed us, once again, why we can’t have nice things.
Sick of every superhero blockbuster needing to put the very fate of the world in jeopardy in order to maintain the excitement? So was Grierson when he wrote this.
What happens when your kid wants to see DC superheroes at the movies, but the only options are dreck like Suicide Squad and Justice League? Josh Schollmeyer had some suggestions.
Is Batman secretly just another neckbeard? “You could certainly make a compelling argument: After all, with his batcave nestled snugly beneath stately Wayne Manor, Batman literally lives in his parents’ basement,” I argued. “He is, in many of his better-known appearances, a socially maladjusted, rage-filled asshole, a man who relentlessly presents himself as superior to all others, the ultimate ackchyually mansplainer whose raison d’être is simply to prove that he’s better than you. He even does goddamn CrossFit!”
Josh Sky interviewed comic book writer Anthony Del Col about why the hero with unbreakable skin was the perfect vehicle for a story about concussion-related brain injuries. Sadly, that entire book turned out to be more believable than the NFL’s response to the current situation.
Did we mention how much we love the fact that America’s Favorite Film Critic Tim Grierson is prepared to write stuff like this for us?
Back in September, we dedicated an entire day to talking about Trump’s allegedly Toad-shaped mushroom cock, because, as I asked in the intro to this piece, “a sane editorial response to the current news cycle would be what, exactly?” This was probably the nerdiest of all of them, which is really saying something.
First they published a comic book that showed Batman’s batawang. Then they released a second printing where it was covered up. Did this mean that the rare first editions would be super valuable one day? Brian VanHooker investigated.
With the release of Venom, Nemo McCay ran down some of the more memorable examples of the single most overused trope in comics.
And it’s glorious to watch a film critic of Grierson’s caliber attempt to grapple with a turd in the wind of a movie like Venom.
“When I say I want to fuck Venom, I want to fuck Venom,” Twitter user @SisMaryJane told Quinn Meyers. And that was just the first line of the article. Sigh.
Finally, no exploration of our nerdiness would be complete without C. Brian Smith’s account of going trick or treating, alone, as a nearly middle-aged man, dressed as a bunch of grapes. God bless you, CBS. But also, stay out of our neighborhood, please?