8. Ballroom 20—More Fun Than a Poke in the Eye
A surprise live performance of “The Big Bang Theory” theme by The Barenaked Ladies and “Chuck’s” Jeffster dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in Ballroom 20 helped redeem Comic-Con this year after the disappointing final “Harry Potter” panel and that shocking nerd brawl in Hall H.
7. Klingons—Out, Stormtroopers—In
Despite the City of San Diego making a big show of translating its Gaslamp-area transit signs into Klingon, there were few Kronos natives to be found. Instead, stormtroopers ruled the weekend as the 501st Legion ferreted out Rebel scum ... and posed for pictures.
6. Berkeley Breathed—First-Timer, Award Winner
He was a daily/weekly cartoonist from 1978 to 2008, but—surprisingly—this year marked Berkeley Breathed’s first Comic-Con appearance. CCI honored Breathed with an Inkpot Award; he remarked it was the first award he’s received since his Pulitzer in 1987. Breathed presented a slide show (of actual playground slides) and offered a thought-provoking explanation of why he won’t sign the Cartoonists Freedom of Expression petition (he believes the petition needs to be signed by Muslim organizations willing to support cartoonists’ rights). His book, “Mars Needs Moms!,” is being adapted as a 2011 Disney motion-capture film starring Joan Cusack and Seth Green, and Breathed brought his own mom to Comic-Con. Awwww!
5. Wonder Woman’s Modest Costume—Such a Nonissue
Talented writers, directors and producers, including Felicia Day (“The Guild”), Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Melissa Rosenberg (“Dexter”), brought up Amazon warrior Diana Prince during the “Girls Gone Genre” panel, but nary a word was said about her outfit change. Now can we please start talking about a “Birds of Prey” reboot?
4. Zombies Are the New Vampires
Last year was all about sparkly vampires and Taylor Lautner’s chest with the debut of “New Moon.” This year, screaming Twihards were replaced with “The Walking Dead” as AMC filled the Gaslamp and the Exhibition Hall with bloody zombies and a ransacked country house to promote its adaptation of the Robert Kirkman/Tony Moore comic book series.
3. Bags as Swag
This is the first year I walked away with more swag bags than actual swag. Even though most of the studios seemed to holding back on the freebies, SyFy, DC and others handed out bags that might actually see the light of day after the con.
2. “RED” (Retired Extremely Dangerous)
The sight of Dame Helen Mirren sporting a machine gun in this Summit/DC Comics film won me over instantly. Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA agent targeted for assassination. With his identity compromised, Moses reassembles his former team—Joe (Morgan Freeman); Victoria (Mirren), a wet-work operative; and Marvin (John Malkovich), an LSD-fried weapons expert—in order to survive and save his handler, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). The Comic-Con audience went wild for the “RED” trailers. Yes, the buzz is strong with this one. Co-starring Richard Dreyfuss, the film is due out Oct. 15.
1. Stan Lee
A Holocaust motion-comic panel would normally be an also-ran at Comic-Con. But add former Marvel head Stan Lee and it became a standing-room-only event. At 87, Lee was busier than ever—taking part in six different CCI events in two days and attending a gallery exhibition. Oh, and don’t forget that feature-length doc, “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.” Excelsior!