Welcome to Heraldic Criticism’s first annual second-hand Comic-Con coverage! Unlike E3, I don’t have the good fortune of watching the various panels and such live online, and videos only show up on YouTube several weeks after the fact, so my coverage won’t be so much a recap of everything as it will be my own commentary on the news that matters most to me. Those interested can obviously find the various liveblogs and other coverage on other news sites as well. That said, enjoy!
For the internet follower, there’s usually not much to get excited about on Preview Night, but this year, two particular live action adaptations of interest were screened: CW’s Arrow pilot and Pete Travis’ Dredd. I purposefully glossed over the details so as not to negatively influence my future reviews, but it seems the overall reaction to both is pretty positive. I’ve been on board for Dredd since the first trailer came out, and Arrow has of course been on my radar since its inception. The news has definitely solidified my plans to check out both. Arrow premieres Wednesday, October 10th at 8 pm EST, and Dredd will be in theaters September 21st.
As a compulsive advance planner, I like to have a good idea of what to expect in terms of what I’m following at Comic-Con each year. Since last year, it seems to be an increasingly popular trend for news sites to refrain from posting what panels they’ll be liveblogging at until ten minutes before it actually starts. I don’t know if it’s the growing number of people lining up at Hall H, and the bloggers aren’t sure if they’ll even make it into the room or not, but it’s irritating for someone like me who now has to rush around at the very last minute finding a liveblog to follow. Still, it beats waiting in line for hours on end.
I followed liveblogs from ComingSoon.net, Comic Book Resources, and DC’s The Source blog, so all information collected hereafter is taken from those sources.
DC Comics: Tales from The Dark and The Edge
I wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in any panel featuring Rob Liefeld, but I wanted to check this one out to see All-Star Western co-author Jimmy Palmiotti talk about where the book would be headed in the future. DC seems to be really primping their zero issue event in September and subsequent #13 issues to hook more readers, as there are plenty of new events coming up in all their books. Palmiotti mentioned that All-Star Western #0 would retell Hex’s origins, and with the way All-Star Western has been going, I’m completely on board.
The incredibly lax liveblog I followed also added, “More fan questions about Jonah Hex, Frankenstein and other characters from fans being answered by Palmiotti, Lemire, Fialkov and the rest of the panel here.” Wow, thanks for that incredibly descriptive tidbit, DC! Don’t bother typing out the questions and answers or anything, I really just wanted to hear that there were questions being asked and answers being given. Your “Con Away from Con” coverage certainly is living up to its namesake!
I found a much more satisfactory summation of what went down at the panel here for those interested.
DC Comics: Batman: Beyond the Night of Owls
After hearing that big things were happening with Scott Snyder’s Batman book this September, I made a point to check out this panel to see what was up. Turns out it wasn’t much I didn’t already know – the author hyped the series’ #0 issue, which will apparently contain a retcon of Frank Miller’s classic Year One origin and “will show a very different Bruce Wayne”. Not sure I like the sound of that, but I may check it out nonetheless.
Following that, in October Snyder will begin a new story arc featuring the Joker, which he described as his “Killing Joke”. I’m interested, if only to see if he can live up to those standards, but I can honestly say that I wasn’t impressed with what I’ve read from his run so far. Batman is one of those rare characters that has had so many impressive, iconic story arcs, that for me, anything less just sort of pales in comparison. It’s a high standard that I’d like to see Snyder live up to, even if I’m doubtful he will.
I must say though, I love the recently released promo image for the Joker’s return:
For those unfamiliar, last September, at the very end of author Tony Daniel’s mediocre Detective Comics #1, a new villain called the Dollmaker physically cut the Joker’s face off and hung it on the wall, and we haven’t seen the Clown Prince of Crime in comics since. I criticized the shock ending, citing the relatively young age of the book’s target audience, but I do think the above image is pretty cool, if only because it reminds me of Face/Off.
Walt Disney Studios: Frankenweenie, Oz The Great and Powerful, and Wreck-it Ralph
I admire Disney for coming to Comic-Con each year. They could easily stop attending in order to get more people to attend their own D23 convention in August, but they still stick it out every year for the nerd crowd. Props. And after an hour-long delay, their panel finally kicked off with a brief look at Frankenweenie, the new stop-motion film from Tim Burton. I’ve never been a fan of the kind of stop-motion popularize by Burton and director Henry Selnick, so I largely zoned out for the duration of this segment.
Next came Oz The Great and Powerful, a story of how the wizard got to Oz directed by Spider-Man trilogy helmer Sam Raimi. ComingSoon noted the parallels to the original film and how the footage shown begins in black and white and fullscreen, before changing to full color and widescreen when the wizard gets to Oz. A trailer was released soon after the panel concluded:
The film looks interesting, but I’m not convinced. A lot of it looks strikingly similar to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, making the overall design look far from original, or indeed anything special. Raimi’s signature touch is present through and through, but I’m not sure it’s enough to keep this movie from falling into the same trappings as the latter film.
Lastly came Wreck-It Ralph, a film whose trailer pleasantly surprised me. It really captures the spirit of classic video games, in no short part due to many of the actual characters being present in the film, including Bowser, Dr. Robotnik, and M. Bison. It’s like the Who Framed Roger Rabbit of video games, and it makes me smile.
Disney also gave attendees a surprise look at The Lone Ranger, which I’m cautiously anticipating. From the buzz, I gathered that the reaction was positive overall. Only Deadline’s comments proved to be a big red flag: “yes, it looks like Pirates Of The Caribbean in the old west, and yes, the clip was scored to heavy metal rather than the William Tell Overture.” The first could be a good or bad thing, but the second is undoubtedly bad. I abhor period pieces that flaunt rock guitar soundtracks and the like. It completely eradicates the illusion of being in that period, and you’re reminded that you’re watching a movie. A movie with a terrible, unfitting soundtrack. We’ll see, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney’s latest big live-action blockbuster struck out.
The Expendables 2
Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and more of the cast of the Expendables sequel took the stage to answer questions and show off footage from the new movie coming this August. Stallone said he thinks it’s better than the first film, and it’s certainly looking that way – Con Air director Simon West, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme will all be joining the returning cast of the first.
“I’m Back” says Arnold Schwarzenegger arriving onstage to thunderous applause. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the former Mr. Universe kick some ass again on film for the first time in years. Schwarzenegger and Stallone will also be starring in next year’s The Tomb together, a prison break thriller which was mentioned at the panel.
I’ll be actively searching YouTube for a video of the panel, which had a lot of standout humorous moments. It’s the kind of thing that you really have to see live to appreciate, with all that talent in one room and joking around together, and it seems like it’ll all translate to the movie as well. Arnold even shouted, “It’s naht a toomah!” to the audience after being asked about his comedy films and a potential sequel to Twins. Awesome, but…let’s just go ahead and not make a sequel to Twins.
I also had the opportunity to read a recap of the Blu-ray Producers 2012 panel. Seemed like a pretty interesting panel, from someone very interested in the restoration process and how films are developed for home viewing. Also interesting to note is how a lot of old 50s movies originally filmed in 3D are now being re-released in the added dimension on Blu-Ray for the first time since their release, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and Dial M for Murder. That’s almost three generations that couldn’t experience these films in their native format until now. I’m very eager to check them out in 3D.
Whew! That’s all for today, and I’m already exhausted…in the past three years I’ve been following the Con, I’ve never had to actively switch between so many different panels all going on at once, something I’ll also have to do for each of the remaining three days of the event. Why are all the cool panels taking place at the same time? Why not push some of the big-name festivities into the relatively empty Sunday schedule?
Regardless, the best is yet to come…my commentary on The Hobbit, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, and more soon!