|State University in Springtime|
|1st appearance:||Past Tense|
State University is an institution of higher learning, the alumni of which comprise a huge swath of Ventureverse characters. Many of the show's defining interpersonal relationships were formed during the characters' time at State University.
The level of State University's prestige is unclear. In America's secondary school system, "state schools" are often considered less prestigious than the country's world-reknowned private universities, so the name State University was likely chosen to indicate that the school is nothing particularly special. In The Invisible Hand of Fate, when Billy Whalen is told that he has been enrolled in State University, he replies, "I kind of wanted to go to MIT."
The timeline of the Ventureverse can be estimated from episodes that feature flashbacks to State University. The Rusty Venture period, largely portrayed in "Past Tense" and had to be after 1982, when Blade Runner was released, as it served as an inspiration for his friend Mike Sorayama's choice to study robotics. According to The Monarch, who attended State at the same time, he spent his college years pleasuring himself to thoughts of Markie Post from TV's "Night Court", which debuted in 1984, pushing back the Rusty period further.
The Billy Quizboy period, portrayed in "The Invisible Hand of Fate", took place sometime after the Rusty Venture period. We know that Rusty left college, hired and fired Myra Brandish, and fathered Hank and Dean in the interim, and Pete White left college to become a game show host. We also know that Richard Impossible was a professor at State during the Rusty Venture period but had recently left the University when Billy was enrolled.
From Hunter Gathers' dialogue in "The Invisible Hand of Fate," it can be inferred that the Billy Quizboy period occurred sometime before August 23, 1989, the date when the Berlin Wall came down. In the episode Pinstripes and Poltergeists, Gathers explains that the original SPHINX was annihilated by the OSI in "the Pyramid Wars of '87." An action montage in "The Invisible Hand of Fate" features OSI agents battling SPHINX, so it can be concluded that the Billy Quizboy period happened before or during 1987.
The best guess is probably that the Rusty period events featured in the flashbacks of "Past Tense" occurred in the fall semester of 1984, and the Billy period events featured in the flashbacks of "The Invisible Hand of Fate" occurred in the fall semester of 1987, leaving a window of three years for Brock to transition from a college dropout to a trained OSI agent, Rusty to take over the Venture compound and father his infant sons, and Pete to become the host of Quizboys.
- Professor Hamilton G. Fantomos
Before the accident that turned him into the Phantom Limb, Hamilton Fantomos was a professor in the Science Department at State University. Among his most notable students were Billy Quizboy, Sheila, and Mike Sorayama, who he believed to be his greatest student. He apparently shared an office with Richard Impossible before Impossible left academia for industry, and together, they may have been co-directors of State's Science Department, although it is also possible that State's Science Department is so small that the two professors constituted the entirety of its faculty.
It was during his tenure at State that Fantomos conducted the failed experiment that gave him super-powers and made him evil. The catastrophic failure of the experiment was due, in part, to his taking on the underqualified Billy Quizboy as his personal lab assistant.
Although Fantomos has often claimed that his failed experiment made him evil, his involvement with the Guild of Calamitous Intent may have predated his failed experiment. He was a suspected of recruiting for the Guild during his tenure at State, and loaded his classes with highly intelligent students who, like Fantomos himself, also possessed extreme physical handicaps and deformities, a combination that Hunter Gathers and Brock Samson believe are essential to the profile of a potential super-villain. Fantomos is also suspected of murdering his lab assistant, Stevie, an OSI informant, for "getting too close."
An alternative explanation is that, before the disaster, Fantomos' experiments were being funded by the Guild without his knowledge. In a conversation with Billy Quizboy, Fantomos claims that he has recieved funding from the Guild of Collegiate Investors. Guild fronts seem to prefer names with the acronym G.C.I., possibly so that they can still use the same logo and branding (e.g. General Consolidated Insurance in Pomp and Circuitry). Seeing as Fantomos had been disowned by his family as a result of his deformed limbs, he may have honestly been ignorant of the Guild of Calamitous Intent at this point and taken the "Guild of Collegiate Investors" at face value, making himself an unwitting pawn of the Guild. In this version of events, Stevie's death may have simply been the suicide it appeared to be; after all, Billy points out that Hunter and Brock's profile of a potential super-villain sounds suspiciously like the profile of a suicidal person.
In either case, Fantomos was certainly amoral before the accident. In a conversation with Billy Quizboy shortly before the fateful experiment, he expresses his belief that it is the right of all geniuses to cheat in order to advance themselves and achieve their dreams. It is also strongly implied that Professor Fantomos may have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with Dr. Girlfriend while she was still one of his students.
- Professor Richard Impossible
There are only a few passing references to Professor Impossible's tenure at State. It is known that he shared an office with Professor Fantomos, and that he apparently left the university shortly before the arrival of Billy Quizboy in "The Invisible Hand of Fate", possibly to found Impossible Industries. His students included both T.S. Venture and Pete White. White failed Impossible's class, but Venture "squeaked by with a 'sympathy D'," due to the death of his father that semester.
Impossible may have been teaching at State when he developed the Goliath Serum, as seen in Ice Station -- Impossible!. This would mean that Impossible's tenure at State began at least as early as the Vietnam War.
After resigning from State, Impossible went on to become one of the university's major benefactors. In Pomp and Circuitry, he visits State University to commemorate the opening of a new Science Center that he funded with Roy Brisby and General Consolidated Insurance.
- Professor Mike Sorayama
Professor Sorayama was a robotics expert and likely taught either science or engineering at State University. Sorayama's talents in his field were so great that he was able to develop a lifelike android copy of himself, complete with a simulation of his personality, that no one was able to distinguish from the real Sorayama, much like Blade Runner's replicants. After Sorayama's death, the Sorayama replicant apparently continued to teach at State in his stead. The replicant also either developed or at least enacted an elaborate revenge plot against Rusty Venture, Pete White, Brock Samson, and Baron Underbheit before ultimately being violently destroyed by Samson in "Past Tense".
Professor Sorayama apparently lived in a bizarre, gothic castle decorated with pop art portraits of Leslie Cohen and served by a crew of "Leslie-Bots" (robots designed to look like Leslie Cohen and to seductively tell Sorayama that they love him, obviously). This castle is apparently either on State University's campus or at least very nearby, as the Leslie-Bots deliver Sorayama's prisoners a last meal from State University's dining hall. As a roboticist, Sorayama's accomplishments include not only his own perfect replicant and his army of Leslie-Bots, but the advances in the field of prosthetics that made Billy Quizboy's robotic hand possible.
- "T.S." Venture
From a reference by his friend Mike Sorayama to the film Blade Runner, we know that "T.S." (as he preferred in his college years) attended State sometime after June 1982 (which was the release month of Blade Runner).
It is unclear how many years he has been in college when the events depicted in Past Tense occurred, although it is clear that T.S. has spent at least one year at State. It is during his final days at State that T.S. encounters his roommate, Brock, for the first time. In a drunken rage, Brock destroys the room, beating T.S., Peter White, Werner Underbheit, and Mike Sorayama senseless. During the melee, T.S.' molar in which Jonas Venture had implanted a tracking chip is knocked out. Late, Brock delivers the news to T.S. that his father has died.
The inherent symbolism in this event, which fits nicely with the Freudian catch-phrase "All progress begins with the death of the father", demonstrates again the Failure theme: unable to escape the influence of his father, rebelling only in superficial ways (growing his hair long, but still studying science, at which he is a failure), his ignorance of the loss of the tooth (which represents the final bond between father and son), all foreshadow a life a mediocrity. Even his eventual break with his father (the tooth and Jonas' death) is not his own doing, but an accident and coincidence.
Shortly after the news of his father's death, T.S. is involved in a lab "accident" (which was actually the Monarch's first attempt at destroying Dr. Venture). The explosion in the chemistry lab scars T.S.'s lab partner, Werner Underbheit, for life, which results in the Baron's signature metal jaw. Unaware that is was no accident, Underbheit still holds Venture accountable, because in Underland, "...the lab partnership is a sacred trust".
It is within a very short period of time after these two events (Jonas' death and the accident) that T.S. leaves school to take over Venture Industries. Professor Impossible awards him a "sympathy D" in consideration of the death of his father.
- Brock Samson
Brock attended State University for a single semester on a football scholarship. During this time, he was roommates with Rusty Venture, although years later their friendship blooms in spite of, not because of, their experiences at State. Rusty and Brock had very little in common, and Brock's loud, aggressive sex on the top bunk with a seemingly never-ending supply of attractive women often gave Rusty sleepless nights.
Brock's scholarship is terminated after he accidentally kills Tommy, the team's star quarterback, during football practice. In Eeney, Meeney, Miney ...Magic!, a magically induced hallucination of Tommy forgives Brock, saying, "I never should have tried to run. I really should have given you the ball." The guilt associated with Tommy's death haunted Brock for decades, despite the massive body count he'd developed during the interim.
The night after he killed Tommy, Brock got massively drunk and then, upon returning to his dorm room, delivered a brutal, unprovoked beating to Rusty Venture, Peter White, Mike Sorayama and Werner Ünderbheit after stepping barefoot on a 20-sided die. The next day, he gave a half-hearted apology to Rusty, casually informed him that someone had called to tell him that his father, Jonas Venture, was dead, and then left State University to join the Marines.
- Peter White
Pete White attended State University at the same time as Rusty "T.S." Venture. Pete would consider Rusty his best friend for decades after their shared experience at State, although it is unlikely that Rusty shares these sentiments. White's major at State isn't known, but he took at least one science course with Professor Richard Impossible (which he failed). He was roommates with Werner Ünderbheit, who was difficult to get along with as a result of his royal upbringing.
White was a DJ for State University's radio station. He would remain proud of his college radio show, The White Room, decades later, although he was kicked off the air after he used his show to humiliate his friend Mike Sorayama with a fake song dedication. He was the first DJ at State to play Bauhaus. His experience as a college radio DJ may be what inspired him to become a game show host.
- Werner Ünderbheit IV
Werner Ünderbheit IV attended State University as a foriegn exchange student, where he shared a dorm room with Pete White. It was during his time at State that he recieved his personal slave, Manservant, as a birthday gift/care package from his parents, who was forced to sleep in a dorm room closet for the duration of Ünderbheit's college education. Although unaccustomed to interacting with Americans, who failed to cower in the face of his royal lineage, he eventually befriended fellow social misfits Rusty Venture, Pete White and Mike Sorayama.
Later, Ünderbheit and Venture began conducting experiments together as lab partners. It was during this time that a laboratory explosion engineered by The Monarch took Ünderbheit's jaw. As both Ünderbheit and Rusty were ignorant of The Monarch's involvement in the catastrophe, Ünderbheit placed the blame on Rusty, who had betrayed the "sacred trust" of the lab partnership.
- Sheila (A.K.A. Dr. Girlfriend)
Sheila, who later become known as Dr. Girlfriend, was a student of Professor Hamilton G. Fantomos during Billy Quizboy's short time at State. She was likely a science major. Little is known about her during this period, but it is implied that she may have become romantically involved with Fantomos while she was still his student.
- Malcom (A.K.A. The Monarch)
The Monarch attended State University at the same time as Rusty Venture, Pete White, and Baron Ünderbheit. It was during this time that The Monarch developed his bottomless, insane hatred for Venture, going so far as to orchestrate a catastrophic laboratory explosion in an attempt to murder him. The blast instead destroyed Ünderbheit's lower jaw, leaving Rusty unharmed, and both Rusty and Ünderbheit remain ignorant of The Monarch's role in the explosion. It has not yet been revealed what Rusty did, if anything, to provoke The Monarch's endless wrath, but whatever it was almost certainly happened at State University.
Little is known of The Monarch's studies at State, although he did write lots of "way too specific poems about Monarch butterflies" in a Creative Writing class that he took with Rusty. The bizarre poems led Rusty to erroneously believe that The Monarch was gay.
- Mike Sorayama
Mike Sorayama attended State with Rusty "T.S." Venture, Peter White, Baron Werner Ünderbheit, Brock Samson and Leslie Cohen. Although Rusty advises him against it, Sorayama studies robotics because "Blade Runner" was so cool, and Professor Hamilton G. Fantomos comes to consider him to be his greatest student.
He had a hopeless, unreciprocated crush on fellow student Leslie Cohen, leading him to do her homework for her and to design elaborate Dungeons & Dragons campaigns to pay tribute to her. Delusional, Sorayama would blame his friends for ruining his chances with Leslie for the rest of his life.
In his social circle, which included Rusty Venture, Peter White, and Werner Ünderbheit, all of whom were themselves social outcasts, Sorayama was often the butt of the joke. In a classic college prank, Rusty, Peter, and Werner almost fatally poisoned Sorayama with oregano that they claimed was marijuana, failing to account for Sorayama's severe oregano allergies. Peter White was pulled off of the air after he used his radio show, The White Room, to field a fake song dedication from Sorayama to Leslie Cohen, in which he claims to "masturbate furiously to [Leslie's] picture every night."
- Leslie Cohen
Leslie Cohen was the beautiful object of Mike Sorayama's misguided, insane affections. Almost nothing is known about her beyond the fact that she was attractive and had no problem using Sorayama to help her pass an introductory chemistry course. She was one of the many women to sleep with Brock Samson during his only semester at State.