The popular conception of the San Diego Comic Con these days is that it’s all about other forms of media, specifically movies and television, with comics being pushed out to the wayside. While it’s true that other media has muscled its way in big time to the Con…there are still TONS of comic book related activities going on, so many in fact, that in coming up with a list of twenty I had to leave literally dozens out. Here are some of the bigger comic book related panels going on at the Con this year, and some smaller, interesting ones that caught my eye as well. Of course, for more information, like which days and what time each panel is taking place, be sure to check the official Comic Con Schedule.
1. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment: Superman’s 75th Anniversary Celebration
Without Superman, there wouldn’t even be a comic book industry, much less a San Diego Comic Con to go to. The Man of Steel is not only the star of a successful movie reboot this year, but it’s also Big Blue’s 75th birthday. Some of the biggest names associated with the history of Superman are at this panel, including Jack Larson, Jimmy Olsen from the classic Adventures of Superman television series; Tim Daly, the voice of Superman from the Bruce Timm Superman: The Animated Series; current Supergirl (from Superman:Unbound) Molly Quinn; and comic book legends Paul Levitz, Dan Jurgens (the man who killed Superman! The one who’s not Bryan Singer!) and All-Star Superman’s Grant Morrison. There’s supposed to be some cool free Super-swag to all attendees of this panel, so this is a good opportunity to “steel” away with some Super-goodies to boot.
2. Star Wars Comics: Here and Now
With Disney buying Lucasfilm last year, many assumed the Star Wars license would go to Disney owned Marvel Comics. While that may eventually be true, right now the Star Wars license remains at Dark Horse Comics, its home for the past twenty plus years, ever since 1990’s Dark Empire series. Currently, Brian Wood’s new series, taking place in the immediate aftermath of A New Hope, has reinvigorated the line and gotten people excited again. Dark Horse editor Randy Stradley is joined by a host of Star Wars creators to talk about what’s coming up in the galaxy far, far away for the rest of 2013 and going into next year.
3. Marvel: Ultimate Universe
Thirteen years ago, when comic book sales were at an all-time low, Marvel started the Ultimate Comics line, fresh reboots of classic Marvel brands, among them Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man, Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates, all of which heavily influenced the big-screen versions in the following years. These books would go on to create a whole new generation of Marvel fans who then went out and starting sampling the regular Marvel Universe. While the Ultimate brand hasn’t been as “hot” in the past decade or so, it’s still going, and apparently big changes are on the way for the Ultimate universe, including a visit from the regular Marvel Universe’s Galactus. Is Ultimate Earth about to get eaten?? Find out what’s happening in when editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and writers Joshua Hale Fialkov and Brian Michael Bendis promise “a startling announcement about the future of the Ultimate Universe!”
4. Superman: The Post-Crisis Era
The mid eighties and early nineties were when some of the very best and most remembered Superman stories of all time were coming out. After John Byrne rebooted things in 1986, the Superman saga became a weekly serial between four titles, becoming one giant mega story about the Man of Steel and the citizens of Metropolis. Stories like Superman’s exile into space, the death of Luthor and the arrival of his “son” Lex the Second, the long awaited reveal of Clark’s identity to Lois Lane and their subsequent marriage, and of course, the Death and Return of Superman, all under group editor Mike Carlin. Comic Con special guests Jon Bogdanove (Superman: Man of Steel), Dan Jurgens (Superman), Jerry Ordway (Adventures of Superman), George P?rez (Action Comics), Louise Simonson (Superman: Man of Steel), and Mike Carlin talk to moderator Paul Levitz about what now can be looked back on as a second Golden Age for the Man of Tomorrow.
5. IDW: The Panel to End All Panels
With a name like “the panel to end all panels” this party bettah be good. IDW has become the home to quality licensed comics, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to True Blood to Star Trek and Dr.Who, and if Marvel and DC are the “Big Two” (with Dark Horse and Image bringing up the rear) then IDW has come quite a long way in a very short time, as they are nipping at those other publishers’ heels. On the panel will be CCO Chris Ryall, CEO Ted Adams, writer Marc Andreyko and other TBA additions. Now, let’s see if this panel lives up to its name.
6. DC Comics Green Lantern: Recharged!
After leaving the Green Lantern title following nearly a decade at the helm, Geoff Johns is gone, and a new chapter in the Book of Oa begins. DC is making sure that just because Johns is gone from the Green Lantern universe, that doesn’t mean the character is in bad hands with new writer Robert Venditti. But Green Lantern isn’t just one book, it’s a whole family of titles, all getting a relaunch this year, including Green Lantern Corps, Red Lanterns, Green Lantern: New Guardians and soon, The Sinestro Corps. Oh, and Larfleeze for some reason. To hear all the details of what’s coming up for Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, this sounds like the place to be.
7. Archie Comics: The Hottest Publisher in the Industry
Archie is the property that just. Won’t. Quit. It’s no wonder they’re doing an Archie Zombies book soon (It’s called Afterlife with Archie. Yes, this is a for-real thing.) as both Archie and Zombies are things that simply refuse to die, and not only do they not die, they thrive. The forever-adolescent characters from Riverdale currently have something like ten titles to their name, and have made headlines recently by having an out gay character in the form of Kevin Keller. There’s also an Archie movie in the works. Everything’s freakin’ Archie, and you can hear all about the Archie mobile game, the Archie movie, the Archie marital aide, you name it (okay, I made the last one up.) from panelists like Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO Jon Goldwater, president Mike Pellerito, cartoonist Dan Parent (Kevin Keller) and moderated by Archie movie writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Also, according to the programming schedule, all in attendance will receive a gift bag worth $100 bucks, so hey…what is Comic Con about if not free useless crap?
8. Marvel: Cup O’ Joe
It’s become a San Diego Comic Con tradition, with Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada taking to the stage for a bit of a Q&A with 4000 or so Marvelites out in the audience. More often than not, Marvel uses the opportunity to announce several new projects for the forthcoming year, so if you’re a Marvel fan in any capacity, you might wanna be on board for this panel. Aside from Joey Q, also sharing the stage will be editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, talent scout C. B. Cebulski, and writers Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers) and Brian Michael Bendis (Guardians of the Galaxy), and possibly some other Marvel luminaries.
9. Gender in Comic Books
One of the major debates raging in the geek world right now is the role of women in comics and comics fandom; just this past year alone, how many articles have been published about the “fake geek girl”? That topic, among others, is sure to come up when Professor Christina Blanch moderates a discussion on the topic of gender in comics with creators of both sexes, including Mark Waid, Grace Randolph, Meredith Gran, and George P?rez, who might know a little bit about women in comics, having successfully rebooted Wonder Woman in the eighties with a heavily feminist bent. For those of you who, like me, like to get all “high-brow” about your “low brow” interests, this could be the discussion for you.
10. The Tick 25th Anniversary
“SPOON!!” (Sorry, I had to, it’s mandatory.) Superhero spoof The Tick went from being an indie favorite from New England Comics to a beloved Fox animated series in the early nineties, to a short lived live-action show all over the course of twenty-five years. Tick creator Ben Edlund, Chris McCulloch, Tick Karma Tornado artist/writer and Venture Brothers creator, and art director of The Tick comic series Bob Polio will be on hand to discuss the last quarter century in the life of The City’s greatest super hero.
11. Marvel’s INFINITY
Despite what they might be calling it here, this is really an Avengers panel. Before Earth’s mightiest take on Thanos in Avengers 2 (or 3, depending on who you believe) writer Jonathan Hickman will have them taking on the ugly purple Titan in an all new six-issue event that brings in several Avengers characters from across the Marvel Universe . Aside from current Avengers universe architect Jonathan Hickman, also on the panel to talk about INFINITY (not to mention all the other Avengers books) will be Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, and writers Sam Humphries (Avengers A.I.), Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers), Charles Soule (Thunderbolts), and Nick Spencer. (Secret Avengers)
12. Vertigo: The Sandman 25th Anniversary and Beyond!
Quite possibly the biggest story out of last year’s Con was the return of Neil Gaiman to the Sandman universe, and the character of Morpheus after nearly sixteen years away. This year, Vertigo’s flagship title The Sandman returns to comics in an all-new six part series called Sandman: Overture, which is a prequel that tells the story of how the King of Dreams was captured, right before we find him captive in the opening portions of the very first Sandmancomic, a quarter century ago. On the panel to talk not only about the new series, but the long lasting legacy of the original seventy-five issue run, will be creator Neil Gaiman, and joining him will be original series artist Sam Kieth, cover artist Dave McKean, and new Overture series artist J.H. Williams. Even letterer Todd Klein will be there to answer questions about one of the most legendary runs in modern comic book history.
13. X-Men: Battle of the Atom
Say what you will about the whole Avengers vs. X-Men saga last year, the post AVX Universe has been a more solid X-Men world than we’ve seen in several years. Brian Michael Bendis is killing it with both the Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men, Brian Wood’s all female X-Men team is great so far, and Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men is usually hilarious and touching in that Joss Whedony way. So the upcoming Battle of the Atom is the first X crossover in years I’ve been super excited about. In Battle of the Atom, the time-lost original X-Men, stuck in the present, battle the future X-Men who have come to the present to demand they be sent back to their own time. X-Men group Editor Jeanine Schaefer, senior editor Nick Lowe, and writers Brian Michael Bendis (All-New X-Men), Paul Cornell (Wolverine), Gerry Duggan (Deadpool), Sam Humphries (Uncanny X-Force), and Brian Posehn (Deadpool) will be talking not just Battle of the Atom, but all things mutant. If you’re an X-Men fanatic, you’ll wanna be there for this one.
14. Spotlight on George P?rez
There are tons of “Spotlight” panels on particular creators every year at SDCC, and this year is no different. I’m choosing one spotlight panel in particular as a highlight, if only because this man’s art, first on The New Teen Titans and later Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman and Avengers, solidified him as my favorite comic book artist of all time. A true industry legend, George Perez has just signed an exclusive deal with BOOM! Studios. He’s sure to talk about that, as well as his very rich legacy of work over the past four decades.
15. Avengers, X-Men, Dr. Strange and Sgt Fury 50th
There are a lot of comics celebrating big milestones this year; Superman, Sandman, the Tick even – but 2013 also marks fifty years of four of Marvel’s most iconic properties, as created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko: The Avengers, the X-Men, Dr. Strange and Nick Fury. Panel guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers and X-Men), Frank Brunner (Dr. Strange), John Romita, Jr. and Roy Thomas, a man who was there back in the day when these guys were all created, and went on to often be their most prolific chronicler.
16. March: The Graphic Novel by US Congressman and Civil Rights Icon John Lewis
Going through the Comic Con schedule, I discovered the existence of this panel; I gotta say, this panel is the reason San Diego Comic Con is still cool…for all the big Hollywood Studios coming in and taking over and what not, you get to sit down and hear stories like this one…From the official description:
Congressman John Lewis is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African American president. Now, remembering how a 1950s comic book helped spread the philosophy and tools of nonviolent resistance among his generation of activists, Congressman Lewis has a new project to do the same for today’s youth. Together with co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole, The Silence of Our Friends, The Heroes of Olympus), he brings his incredible story to comics, in the graphic novel trilogy March. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I Have a Dream,” meet the last living person who spoke from that podium, and see his incredible story come to life in a gorgeous graphic novel from Top Shelf Productions
. I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds amazing. And I really want to hear more.
17. Marvel: Superior Spider Man
When last we checked on our favorite wall crawler, Peter Parker had gone to be with Uncle Ben in the great beyond, while his arch-foe Doctor Otto Octavius made off with his body, becoming the “Superior” Spider-Man. While fans everywhere groaned loudly when this was first announced, they quickly began to sing its praises as one of the best Spidey titles in years. The panel for Superior Spidey will feature senior editor Steve Wacker, Chris Samnee (Daredevil), Nick Spencer (Superior Foes of Spider-Man), and more. Will Marvel announce the return of Peter Parker? It’s only a matter of time, after all, but for now, fans might want old Dock Ock to actually keep the mantle of Spider-Man.
18. Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight
As a member of the LGBT community, I can tell you that the B part (as in Bisexual, for the uninitiated) is often silent. Facing prejudice from both the gay and straight communities, bisexuals often have stories that remain untold. The new comics anthology Anything That Loves looks to change all that, and brings together 30 creators to write about “the complex world of nonbinary sexuality.” Moderator Charles “Zan” Christensen and contributors to this anthology will talk about how this project came together, and why it’s important to finally tell stories from the bisexual person’s point of view.
19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Featuring Kevin Eastman
It seems like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is having a bit of a mini renaissance, with a new movie from Michael Bay coming out next year, a new animated show, and the continuing line of comic books, now at IDW Publishing. TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman will be at a special discussion on all things Turtles, along with the current Ninja Turtles crew from IDW. The official description for the panel says it “promises to be one shell of a fun and informative time!” Ouch.
20. Integrating Comics into the Common Core
And finally, as someone who strongly believes that comic books are an art form (and an art form that was originally conceived of here in the United States to boot) I have always believed that they should be taught in schools at some point, in some form. This all-star panel of educators, creators and publishers discuss how comic books and graphic novels are slowly but surely being integrated into the Common Core Curriculum. This Q&A hopes to answer questions and raise some more, and as someone who longs to see comic books finally given their due as a form of art as good as any other, I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say.