Webb Report: Texas is Marvel Comics country, according to study


The most boring question in all of geekdom: Are you a DC or a Marvel fan?

Hold on a second, I need to push my glasses up on my nose.

DC and Marvel are the world’s two dominant comic book companies, the ones that have published the adventures of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (on the DC side) and Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men (on the Marvel side) for decades. Asking which company is your favorite rankles me, because if you love comics, why choose? It’s the sort of thing you’d be asked by the kid in your high school algebra class who just found an issue of “Wolverine” in the lost-and-found and decided that Batman is lame because he doesn’t have superpowers.

(He would be wrong, of course, because Batman’s superpower is generational wealth.)

With the sublime “Black Panther” dominating both the box office and the cultural conversation this month, though, it’s worth casting an eye toward each house’s output during the great superhero movie boom of the past couple decades. In that case, it’s hard to deny that Marvel has soared where DC’s silver screen seems cursed by green kryptonite, “Wonder Woman” notwithstanding. That’s not because of the characters, mind you. Even Beyoncé would flop if she was directed by Zack Snyder.

RELATED: ‘Black Panther’ is the king of them all

Here’s where I, whose first comic book purchases as a child were issues of Green Lantern and Superboy (both DC characters) from the Comics Cave on Westgate Lane, start to have doom-filled thoughts. Are DC’s muddy-colored and poorly scripted movies dragging down their almost century-old icons in the public mind?

According to a study by TV provider Dish Network, they could be getting crowded out, at least. Citing Google Trends data, Dish found that most U.S. states — including Texas — prefer Marvel comic books over their DC counterparts. A few states like Kentucky, Oregon and Indiana are clear-cut Marvel fans, the study found. Only eight states (and fittingly, Washington, D.C.) swing for Wonder Woman’s parent company. Five eastern states couldn’t pick a super-fast horse in the race, going 50-50 for Marvel and DC.

There’s still some hope for the people who brought you the Flash and Aquaman, though. (DC, just in case that’s not clear.)

“Most states, though, barely reach consensus,” according to the study. “In Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, DC or Marvel comics win by a single point.”

The study also found each state’s favorite superhero. In Texas, the Man of Steel is our hero, even if we do prefer the house of the Hulk overall. Mixed message, y’all. We’ve looked at previous super-studies along these lines that seem to fly in the face of that finding, which named Batman as the Lone Star State’s protector of choice.

A battle between Superman and Batman to see who comes out on top? Been there, done that, saw the movie, wished I hadn’t seen the movie.

Study hard-ish

You know what they say: C’s get degrees. But wouldn’t you feel a little better getting a B instead?

U.S. News & World Report compiled a list of “A-Plus Schools for B Students,” ranking universities and colleges that “accept a significant number of students with nonstratospheric transcripts.” Each college on the list had to admit a “meaningful proportion” of students who did not make straight A’s. According to the study methodology, that was determined by looking at SAT and ACT scores, as well as the class ranks of admitted students.

As for why you’re here, yes, there are a handful of Central Texas universities on the list. Austin’s St. Edward’s University and Southwestern University in Georgetown both made the list.

Check out every Texas university or college that is friendly to people who make a lot of 80s on their exams:

  • National universities: Baylor University, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, University of Houston
  • Liberal arts colleges: Austin College, Southwestern University
  • Regional universities: University of Dallas, St. Edwards University, Abilene Christian University, LeTourneau University, University of St. Thomas

According to the ranking methodology, the study considered each school’s performance in the news outlet’s 2018 “Best Colleges” rankings, as well as their average freshman retention rates, for eligibility for this list.

Cave sweet cave

“You are not going to put that thing in the house!” is something I hear from time to time.

My wife is usually referring to something rusty, dusty or dead. Or some combination of the three.

Fortunately, I have no intention of putting my treasures in the house. They’re going in the garage — the vintage Texas honky-tonk at the end of my driveway. You’d call it a “man cave.”

Man caves get a bad rap. But is there a more interesting room in the house? They could be as modest as a spare room converted into an office/game room with a couple of last-remnants-of-the-dorm-room touches. Or they can be as aggressive as a gleaming-chrome garage stocked with vintage vehicles and rows of tool boxes.

Still, as personalized as a man cave can be, you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering what the other fellow is thinking. Online furniture retailer Joybird is on it, conducting a survey of more than 600 men asking them about their preferences.

Here are some of the results:

  • The most popular theme is “sports,” ranking ahead of “gamer” and “bar.”
  • The majority of men would like their cave to be in the basement (sorry, Texans).
  • Baby Boomers want booze, Generation X wants multiple TVs and millennials want gaming systems in their man caves.
  • The majority of men said they wouldn’t let their wife in their man cave. The survey didn’t ask whether the women had any interest in the first place
  • The most popular kind of drink to stock? Beer. Duh.
  • And 5 percent of men say they spent more than $10,000 on their man cave.

— Dave Thomas, American-Statesman staff

We tried it so you don’t have to

Whole Foods’ answer to “But what about bacon?” is the TTLA: a vegan BLT, made with tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce and avocado, plus some vegan garlic aioli.

It’s also, according to some, a life-changer. The sandwich went viral after actress Tabitha Brown posted a video of herself literally singing its praises to Facebook in January.

“Honey, I’m looking around and stuff look different. That’s how good it is,” Brown says in the video, which has since been viewed nearly 1.5 million times. Brown’s impromptu review sparked the #TTLA challenge, where people similarly share their reactions after trying the sandwich on social media. According to several sources, the video reportedly spurred Whole Foods to up its supply of tempeh bacon.

When I bought my TTLA at Whole Foods’ North Lamar flagship, around 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, it was the last one.

It was also OK.

There was a strong fake-smoke smell coming from the sandwich before I even unwrapped it. And the smell translated into taste pretty seamlessly. It tasted like a good BLT, but instead of bacon flavor, it was liquid smoke. And instead of that pull you get when biting into a piece of bacon, no pull. Texture-wise, the bacon was indistinguishable from the avocado.

Most tempeh bacons are made by marinating strips of tempeh in smoke flavoring, which explains the strong smoke taste. It is also how Whole Foods suggests preparing its TTLA at home.

I think my favorite part was the bread.

My life is unchanged, but the $9 sandwich is a good meatless lunch option. If I got it again I would definitely not get it toasted, which browned the avocado and wilted the lettuce a little. I would also do as Brown so adamantly encouraged and “add a pickle.”

That one’s on me.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff



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