College is a new, exciting, and possibly shocking time in any ones life. This blog is for incoming and current college students to open their minds and begin the discussion of things they may experience in college and that will hopefully continue. With advice, thoughts, and superheroes, it is going to be a pretty good time!
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/

The Psychos of Arkham

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So I have decided that this blog post should be about Batman, since the new Ben Afflack Batman photos have just been release. However, instead of focusing on Batman, I am going to talk about his villains. . Batman’s villains are unlike any others. The villains that Superman, Spider-man, or even the X-men fight for world or universal domination, power, fame, respect, or mainly to kill the heroes we love. While most of Batman’s villains are searching for the same things, what drives them is what makes them so interesting. With this blog post I want to talk about the push, the urge, the motivation the villains of Batman have within their own psychotic minds. Think about it…Mr. Freeze, obsessed with saving his wife, Nora; Killer Croc considers himself and looks to be more animal than man; Two-Face, a man who is fixated with the odds as well as perfect symmetry that with every decision he makes he feels obliged to flip a coin to seal the fates of others; and of course the kicker of them all…The Joker! There is too much to say about the Jokers psychosis to even begin…

With every other superhero, Marvel or DC, the hero beats up the bad guy and than takes them to jail. It is only with the Batman that his villains (super or not) are taken to an asylum. So what does that say about the villains of Batman? They have something more than wanting to be rich or famous or powerful that drives them (though that is an added perk). What makes them commit the crimes they do is the fact that they feel that they have to, they are forced into this life because it is the only thing that makes sense to them, and everything else is arbitrary. Take the Riddler for example; the Riddler, also known as Edward Nigma is fixated with riddles, puzzles and word games (as his name suggests). Why do all of his crimes revolve around riddles, puzzles, and word games? Because he is trying to prove that he is the intellectual superior to the “World’s Greatest Detective”. He thrives on trying to outwit the Batman, making his crimes ever so flamboyant and ridiculous just to do so. As many of you know, he is not a psychopath, but does suffer from an intense obsessive compulsion which is why he is so fixated on riddles and outsmarting Batman. He is such a smart guy, with an IQ of 187. Imagine if he was able to focus his intelligence and energy into controlling Gotham, he could have it done in a matter of hours and no one (except Batman) could stop him. Or how about the Arnold Wesker, the man “behind” Scarface? The thing that makes him such an interesting villain is we never really know if Wesker is the one controlling Scarface or if the puppet is the one calling the shots. Why we don’t know who is in charge is because Arnold suffers from multiple personality disorder, putting his aggressive tendencies within Scarface as Arnold is a very passive and submissive man. With a character like Arnold/Scarface it is difficult to know who is the real threat is.

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Not only does Batman have to deal with villains who are mentally imbalanced  but also with villains who understand the human psyche and love to exploit it. Dr. Crane, aka Scarecrow, THRIVES on exploiting the fears of others and studying them. He uses the fears of others to get what he wants, whether it be power, wealth, or just knowledge. Crane, one of Batman’s very intelligent enemies, having a PhD in psychology allows him to access the mind of his advisories. He knows how to manipulate the human mind so well that he actually had two men commit suicide just by using his words, so imagine the power and terror he can cause with a bunch of fear gas!! The other doctor who uses his intelligence and knowledge of the human psyche is Dr. Hugo Strange. Lead psychologist at Arkham Asylum, Dr. Strange is just as his name suggests…strange! He is probably the smartest guy in all of Gotham (besides Batman). Why do I say that? Well he is one of the few villains to be able to deduce the secret identity of  Batman as Bruce Wayne. Not only is he smart, but he is manipulative; capable of convincing the inmates of Arkham to do his dirty work, playing to their weaknesses. He works with them and uses his mastery of psychology to convince them to do his dirty work as he stands in the background, playing puppet master. He sees through the petty gang wars that many of the other super criminals felt obliged to fight, bringing them together for a single goal again and again…attempt to kill Batman. I LOVE these types of villains, the ones that use the human mind for their own advantage instead of using all muscle or cheap tricks to get the job done.

Looking back at what I have just written it seems as though I am breaking my word a little when I said I wouldn’t focus my energy on single characters, but instead on the whole picture, so let’s see if we can’t get back to that. Let’s look at the complicated relationships that Batman has with several of his villains, characters that he struggles to deal with every time he encounters them: Two-Face, Catwoman, and Ra’s al Ghul.  While this isn’t quite so much about the psychotic state of the characters, these three have just as much of an interesting relationship with the Dark Knight as the “loonies”. These three have an interesting connection with Batman, mostly because of their connections with Bruce Wayne. Take Ra’s al Ghul for a moment. In Chrisopher Nolan’s Batman Begins Nolan presents the idea that it was Ra’s that taught him the skills to become Batman. While this was not the origin story of the comics, it is one that follows with their morals, for both men want the same thing: peace in Gotham…but they differ on how to achieve that peace. Ra’s al Ghul wants to achieve peace by killing over 1/3, if not more, of Gotham’s population, something Batman cannot bring himself to do or be apart of. Another great connection with the richest man in Gotham is Harvey Dent, Gotham’s DA and hopeful future…a future that is soon lost when he is scarred into Two-Face. Harvey Dent was one of the few allies Batman had, one that the Dark Knight cherished greatly, but once he became Two-Face, Dent was one of his greatest and most vicious enemies. What makes Two-Face such a formidable villains is the fact that he has split personality, flipping between DA Harvey Dent and crime boss Two-Face (as seen in Batman: Arkham City).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJJgyULUt_4

Of course, my favorite of the three was saved for last…Catwoman! Now she makes every relationship in comic books and Hollywood seem simple. One of the best known Antiheroes, Catwoman teeters back and forth between assisting Batman defeat the villains of Gotham and joining them herself. To make matters even more complicated her and Batman/Bruce have had an one off relationship for years. Obviously it makes it difficult to fight and send your lover away when she is breaking the law…therefore making yet another relationship of Batman’s that much more complicated.

While there are so many other characters of Batman that I haven’t talked about in this blog. Many of them deserved praise and recognition and did not receive it, but who knows, maybe they will be brought forth in the near future. I know this had nothing to do with college or the struggles that you may face in college or afterwards, but I think it is important to look at what drives a person, what makes them tick. What makes you tick? What do you want to get out of life (probably not as twisted or strange as Batman’s villains), what do you want to accomplish?!

How The Superheroes Do It All

So I know it has been a little time since I last posted anything to the blog, and if you are a reader, I apologize for that. Just had to take some time to grieve the end of How I Met Your Mother! You understand right?! Well now that I am back and the grieving period is over (for now) I figured I should get back to talking about superheroes and college. One question that I have begun thinking about recently is this: how the hell are superheroes not more messed up? Think about it, Batman’s parents are killed when he is a kid, Spider-man’s uncle dies in his arms after being shot, and Superman’s entire planet is destroyed. All of them have a defining moment in which they could become nothing more than a catatonic vegetable, suffering from grief for the lose of their loved ones. And yet they don’t. They find a way to serve those around them, protecting and serving their communities. So I ask the question again…how the hell do they do it?

Well I think I figured it out…they were never alone. Batman had Alfred and later his various sidekicks, Spider-man had Aunt May and his various girlfriends, Superman had his “parents” and Lois Lane. They had support to make it through the toughest times in their lives and they continued to have that support after the initial pain subsided. Because they had that support they were able to save those around them and fight evil. How would any of these characters be without that support?

This same idea goes for not only college students, but every single human being, but let’s just look at college students for now. Here is the honest truth…College can be hard! There will be times when you are stressed, anxious, feel like you are drowning in all that you have to do and that it is not possible to get through. You may feel this from your classes, family issues, relationships, issues you have with friends/roommates/classmates. No matter what you do in college you will feel this at some point, at least once (only once if you are really lucky, but that just isn’t life).

When these stressful hardships come up you have one of three options. The first is that you can ignore it. You can pretend that none of it exists and move through life never looking it in the “face”. Unfortunately, in life, most things don’t go away if you don’t recognize them. The second option is that you can deal with them on your own. This works for some people, but over time they begin to feel beat, as though they can’t keep going because it is just too hard. This option may make you feel strong and independent, but in all honesty, you are just alone. The third option, the one that I personally like, is to get support from those around you, those who really care about you and your welfare. They may be a friend, a professor, an advisor, your significant other, or even a counselor. You may even go to your parents for this support and that is perfectly fine. Some people may look at this as being a sign of weakness and I feel sorry for them. I think knowing when you need help, when you recognize that you cannot do something all by yourself and need help is a true sign of strength. The reason we make connections with people is so that when they fall down, those around us can help us back to our feet.

In the place that I work (where I am writing this blog) I always like to say that we can talk about our problems to one another and we genuinely listen, because when it comes someone else’s time to deal with a problem, they know they have some place to go to talk about their hardships. Since they listened to me when I needed it, I will listen to them when they need it. That support, knowing that you are not alone when shit hits the fan (excuse my French) is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

So here is my point to all of this: Don’t be ashamed to ask for help! Don’t think that you are too good or that asking for help is a sign of weakness. If you ask for help when you need it you will go so much further in life and will honestly be happier. Don’t be the superhero who goes at it alone. Be the superhero who has the support of those around them to keep them strong.