Five Biggest News Items Out of Comic Con

Yes, I know that comic-book conventions have a reputation for being only for the dorky, the square, the costumed, the girlfriendless, and the asthmatic. Give this blog post about the San Diego Comic Con a chance. In recent years, these conventions have grown beyond offering cardboard long-boxes of vintage Archies and actually have carved out a role in looming pop-culture at large. Tons of movie studios, TV networks, series creators, actors, and directors now come to these conventions, especially the San Diego Comic Con, to make big announcements, screen footage, and generally build buzz for their upcoming project—yes, even some properties you might care about. The A.V. Club suggests this is because, as they put it, “geek culture had grown virtually indistinguishable from mainstream culture.”

Instead of news from Comic Con appealing to only those with a certain niche taste, I’m finding the opposite problem. Too many mainstream outlets hoard their juicy announcements until Comic Con. It’s hard to wade through all the stories and figure out what’s getting really good buzz, what’s just hype, and who was there because they actually had something to say instead of just wanting to put in a little face time with fans.

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I’ve sifted through blogs, industry reports, and other articles about the San Diego Comic Con, which took place last weekend, and I figured that these are the five stories you really need to know.

1. Lost will continue to be puzzling.
If you’re a fan of ABC’s mind-bending drama, you’ll know that the creators are more apt to raise questions than give answers about the twisted-timeline series. Their panel at Comic Con was no exception, but they did mention a few items now up for speculation. Both Vultureand the A.V. Club report that footage was screened that suggests that Oceanic Flight 815 actually landed safely in L.A. without the big crash that began the series. They also suggest the return of characters (or actors playing characters) long thought to be dead. Do these reports mean that the show is invalidating its own first five seasons? We’ll have to wonder about that until January. Hmmmm.

2. Vampires are still hot right now.
You’d think comic-book conventions would be all about superheroes, but this one was over-populated by vampires. Last year’s Comic Con was swarmed with screaming fans of Twilight, and they returned to shriek at scenes from its sequel, New Moon, even though Entertainment Weekly reports that Robert Pattinson, the dreamy lead from the first movie, considers his role in the new picture a downgrade from “starring” to “supporting.” More teen vampire drama made it to the screen of a first look at the CW’s new drama, Vampire Diaries—and sci-fi blog i09 was unimpressed with the results. For adults, the folks from True Blood showed a preview of their upcoming season, which includes a peek at Evan Rachel Wood’s turn as the Vampire Queen. Vampirism isn’t endemic to America, it seems, and Korean director Park Chan-wook, who directed the excellent Oldboy, stopped by to screen his ultra-slurpy vampire movie, Thirst.

3. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is going to be crazy.
Those in attendance at Comic Con were treated to a surprise appearance by notoriously press-shy Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland movie. From what I understand, it’s not a simple retelling of the Alice novels; it’s more about Alice’s return to Wonderland after an absence. It looks amazing—meaning that it has the power to amaze. Check out the loopy trailer unveiled at Comic Con, for yourself.

4. Nothing will stop the Avatar machine.
Of all the hotly anticipated movies of 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar—his first real movie since Titanic—seems to inspire the most drooling among fan-boys.  Entertainment Weekly even complained that movie buffs have deemed it “the second coming of 2001, sight (mostly) unseen.” Poor EW will not get a respite from this problem as the hype machine rolls along. As if the anticipation weren’t already in a fever pitch, the announcement was made that 15 minutes of the movie will be screened at IMAX theaters across the country…for free. Mark your calendars: It goes down on August 21.

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5. You might want to figure out who Miracleman is.
Someone, somewhere made an announcement related to comics. Marvel announced that it has acquired all the rights to Marvelman, aka Miracleman, aka Captain Marvel. The three names are indicative of a convoluted series of legal struggles involving Marvel, Todd McFarlane, Neil Gaiman, and Watchmen writer Alan Moore. You don’t have to learn the ins and outs of that, but just cross your fingers that the announcement means that Marvel will reprint Moore’s Miracleman which the A.V. Club says “anticipated some of the ideas found in Watchmen.”

Okay, you can all now go back to your regularly scheduled, cool, hip, fashionable, girlfriend, easy-breathing, regularly showering programming—unless you want to stick around for a round of D&D.

Alice photo © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

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