WONDERCON 2016 [The Bible Scale]: Pizza & Prayer.
We don’t just cover Comic Convention panels–we review ’em! Here are just the first of many panels the Congregation of Cool were able to visit and cover over the weekend…
It’s another installment of The Bible Scale. We hope you like.
April 1 – Update:
–Preacher: Screening & Q&A (Derek)
–Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Moody — coming later today!!!)
March 31 – Update:
–Justice League vs. Teen Titans Screening Review (Myke)
March 30 – Update:
–DC Comics’ Hanna Barbera (Dana)
March 29 – Update:
–Hip-Hop & Comics (Myke)
March 28 – Update:
–Containment: Pilot Screening & Panel (Derek)
–Image: Where Creators Own the New Creativity (Dana)
–Marvel: Next Big Thing (Moody)
March 27 – Update:
–DCU: Rebirth (Moody)
IMAGE COMICS: WHERE CREATORS OWN THE NEW CREATIVITY (Friday) – WonderCon 2016! The Mini Comic Mecca continued this year at the L.A. Convention Center, which was also my girlfriend’s first time ever attending a comic convention. Sucks to be here. Ha! But even with always first-time convention goer fare (i.e. checking out the cosplay, taking endless pictures, and finding her a cool shirt to walk away with), I still managed to get her to sit through a few panels–maybe none better than that from Image Comics. But let’s just get this out of the way: this “Dynast” has always been more partial to the panels outside of DC and Marvel; they are typically more candid and aren’t afraid to talk about other aspects outside of the book they’re pushing.
Joe Harris (Snowfall), Keenan Marshall Keller (The Humans), Brian Schirmer (Black Jack Ketchum), Jimmie Robinson (Power Lines), and Brian Haberlin (Faster than Light) comprised the panel. Even though a decent amount of the panel was focused on the creators talking up the books they’ve been working on, they also reflected a lot about the artist’s journey — putting aside other things to pursue art full time. Robinson, in fact, actually worked as a theater handyman before leaving to pursue comics full-time. Listening to creators who have gone out on their own to chase their dreams provided inspiration for everyone in attendance. They also touched upon diversity and comics and how important it is for inclusion. While DC and Marvel are no doubt the big dogs in the comic industry, the future lies in these smaller companies–albeit even slightly–who push the medium. – Dana Keels
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Nickelodeon) (Saturday) – Sorry for the late addition. I’m still trying to get my mind out of the Trans-Dimentional realm–as my screening of “Trans-Dimentional Turtles” (which airs this weekend on Nick) may have been the best episode of TMNT I’ve ever seen, past or present. Well, that’s because BOTH the 2D and 3D versions of the heralded cartoon meet for the very first time (plus a hint of the Mirage Comics, which weighed heavily on the Turtles into space). Not only that, but exec-producer Bradon Auman decided to bring forth the old cast into the mix–even Pat Fraley’s Krang vs. Gilbert Gottfried’s Kraang–making things quite awkward when Rob Paulsen’s Donatello meets Rob Paulsen‘s Raphael for the very first time.
The episode was absolutely glorious, uproariously funny, and the panelists (while more low-key than usual) were a pleasure too. The always entertaining “Real Life Mikey” Greg Cipes joked about the cheese on his intergalactic pizza rising to his ride, while special guest “The Legend of” Zelda Williams (as cued by Paulsen), who plays the no-longer-accidental Mona Lisa, had a few good laughs herself. “I’m [destined for] dictators and 6-foot tall lizards.” TMNT panel newcomer Cristian Lanz was especially excited to voice/create a character from scratch, with Fishface, hoping to be “a benchmark for the next reboot 30-years from now.” Also: Raphael will have a new pet, Chompy Picasso, and TMNT will see the return of Tokka (from the Secrets of the Ooze film), only this time in full, frightening kaiju form. – Travis Moody
HIP HOP & COMICS (Saturday) – Since we’re just a few weeks ahead of GHG’s premiere #GeekSwagRadio episode it’s only fitting that we checked out the “Culture’s Combining” panel at this year’s Wondercon. Patrick A. Reed (Depth of Field, ComicsAlliance) moderated a roundtable discussion that drew the line between love and passion for the hip-hop culture and its fruitfully symbiotic relationship with comic books. Authors Craig Rex Perry (Hip-Hop Heaven) and Ted Lange IV (creator of Warp Zone), spoke about how natural a relationship between both artistic cultures can really be, especially through the work of fans of both. Perry just wanted to “showcase the life around [him]” in comics. That took the form of stories being told through panels that included people of color in the most honest way possible. Lange went on to talk about how he subconsciously combined “all the things I liked”, joking that “shell-toed Adidas are easy to draw”.
The discussion went on to celebrate the history of inked diversity, and low-key provided solutions for the current lack-there-of, by simply highlighting some of the best examples of hip hop culture in comics while also playfully noting some of the embarrassing failures of appropriation stemming from artists who were merely trying to capitalize on the growing hip hop trend. James Reitano, who just worked on the 12-page comic that was included in the box set for Madlib’s Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remixes, spoke about his origins as graffiti artist (the most slept-on of the Four Pillars) and how most of the graf-artists he knew were big comic nerds. One of the panel’s biggest highlights was the presence of Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli fame who also talked about his time as a visual artist and how he took his love of ongoing characters from comics and incorporated that as trademark visuals in his art. Look out for more discussion about this panel, and hip hop & comics in general when #GeekSwagRadio drops in April. – Myke Ladiona
PREACHER: SCREENING & Q&A (Saturday) – The show based on the comic book created by Garth Ennis’ and artist Steve Dillon centers around a good-hearted-yet-shadowy preacher named Jesse Custer (Agent Carter/Captain America’s Dominic Cooper) who runs a church in a small Texas town. Cooper said he was “desperate” to play the whiskey-drinking Jesse. “It has everything you want as an actor,” he said. “There’s so much more to discover, and I think that’s what I’m relishing in playing him. There’s such complexity to him.” Then, there’s hedge-fund-billionaire, Cassidy, a guy all sorts of crazy. Not clinical, but homicidal. Tulip (Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ruth Negga) is a tiny woman from Jesse’s past who wants to establish their partnership for a job, and, considering what is revealed about Jesse’s past so far, this has possible big trouble written all over it. “He’s her reason for being, and I think that she doesn’t understand why he doesn’t feel the same way at the moment,” Negga said. “She views him as the yin to her yang. She has to short of figure out a life where maybe she might have to stand on her own and separate from him — and that’s kind of scary.”
Finally, there’s this disfigured kid named Arseface. And I’m not saying that to be funny or exaggerate. His face is literally out of some crazy imagination from creator Ennis, who makes the folks on American Horror Story: Freakshow look normal. “We didn’t want him to be so deformed and so hectic looking that it was a distraction, but he had to have a face that looked like an arse,” Showrunner Sam Catlin said. “And we sort of took it from there.” As for the screening, the Divine One doesn’t want to divulge too much and ruin it so soon for you all. The good news: this show was a whole lot of fun right away. There are intense fight scenes, wonderful supernatural elements, and delightful dark comedic parts that keep the show balanced. When asked about the balance between the comic and the show they wanted to tell, Caitlin answered to complete silence, “but I did read [Preacher] and it was incredible. That is what’s good about the collaboration with Seth (Rogen) and Evan (Goldberg) is that they’re hardcore fans. We were never interested in doing an approximation of [the book]. Obviously, we have a different starting point from where we start with Jesse, but everyone wants to do Garth’s Preacher. It’s really our Bible; it’s our road map–that crazy, fucked up, upside-down world.” – Derek Vigeant
DC COMICS’ HANNA BARBERA (Friday) – Long story short: this panel showcased four pretty damn awesome-looking comics. The first, Scooby Apocalypse, features a story from Co-Publisher and superstar artist/panelist Jim Lee, with a script from Keith Griffen and J.M. DeMatteis; and remagined — and familiar/unfamilar (more on that later) — layouts of Scooby and the Gang from Howard Porter. Future Quest by Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner, which is my personal favorite, a team-up of all the action heroes of the Hanna-Barbera universe. Everyone from Johnny Quest to Space Ghost to the Herculoids will be jammed in this book. The teasers presented in the panel were so hype! The Flintstones, by Amanda Conner and Mark Russel, which is being pitched as a version of the flintstones that they couldn’t get away with showing on TV back in the day. And last, Wacky Raceland by Ken Pontac and Leonardo Manco, which reimagines this friendly show as a Mad Max-esque world, where the racers are pitted against each other in a race through the wastes–with a twist: you have to make sure none of your competitors die.
Now, a word. Lee gave a few tidbits away about the story of Scooby Apocalypse, where Fred and Daphne are “mythbusting” reporters that go around debunking fake monsters. Of course, this brought me back to the great, but apparently forgotten, Scooby flick of the 90’s SCOOBY DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND. In that straight-to-DVD film, with gang has disbanded, Fred and Daphne work as reporters that debunk fake monsters before discovering actual zombies in Louisiana. Being the 90’s baby that I am, I had to ask Jim about it. So yours truly did in fact line up for questions and presented it to good ol’ Jim. Nevermind the fact that the panel wanted to pretend that they had never before heard of the flick, Jim’s expression said it all. But I digress. If you’re gonna use something as influence, just be honest about it. – Dana Keels
DC COMICS: REBIRTH (Saturday) – Click this link to read about DC Comics’ Rebirth special event! – Travis Moody
JUSTICE LEAGUE VS TEEN TITANS [Wondercon Premiere Review] (Saturday): If 2-and-a-half-hours of the Justice League on film, courtesy of Dawn of Justice, wasn’t enough for you this past weekend, then have no fear–the Teen Titans are also here. Hello? Animal Man, is that you as a bunch of crickets? Well that’s too bad, because even though our JLA is going up against a team whose biggest show was on Cartoon Network, Justice League vs. Teen Titans is another solid entry in an already established motion picture DC Universe that hasn’t really dropped the ball too hard since its start in Justice League: War. This newest installment of the DCAU introduces Damian Wayne — who we’ve seen to grow as Robin since Son of Batman, to a Teen Titans where Starfire has become a leader and Dick’s already Nightwing.
Apropos to the marquee superhero group, JLvTT’s tone is obviously lighter than BvS, but still in darker shades compared to even Young Justice. For fans of the Titans, it will be great to see the Teens actually acting like Teens — and not what older dudes perceive Teens to be. Sure there’s a montage of them using their powers to cheat at carnival midway games that culminates in Robin facing off against Beast Boy in a game of DC’s version Dance Dance Revolution, but that’s surrounded by the Titans talking openly and honestly about sex and death. They also get to kick a lot of ass; some of it from the JLA “seniors”. The DCAU has done a good job so far in making their movies fun to watch from an action standpoint, with fluid and kinetic art that never slows down to that 90s “action” cartoon pace — and seeing the Teen Titans finally get to shine in some of that high production value goodness will make a lot of people happy. It will certainly make it easier to forgive some of the film’s lows: most notably an off-tone Sailor Moon homage and hints at character development that never really go anywhere. Other than that, Justice League vs. Teen Titans is definitely worth a watch, no matter if you’re a fan of the Titans, or you just really like the DC Animated movies. – Myke Ladiona
Justice League vs. Teen Titans is now available to own on your favorite streaming services, and will be available through home media on April 12, 2016 by Warner Home Video.
MARVEL: NEXT BIG THING (Friday) – It’s rare that any convention-goer has the chance to see superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis (Powers, Invincible Iron Man) in the flesh, nevermind a stop at Comic-Con International’s “B” show. For Guardians of the Galaxy, Bendis promised a new love interest for Ben Grimm and the return of a “majo new character”, while Miles will explore the Spanish side of his family in future issues of Spider-Man–which also won’t see a revised origin since its shift from the Ultimate U to the 616. But we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit our chief interest for the scribe’s impendng Civil War II. While the majority of teasers were already released last week at C2E2 and through major publications (a killer when it comes to discovering anything “new” at these Cons anymore…), it seems like Bendis is shifting this “War” towards the more personally accountible, going so far as to comparing its plot to what would happen if there were any repercussions to the actions of “online trolls and presidential nominees.” Expect a huge impactful, perhaps scary, fallout to this Civil War–similar to all of the changes readers have seen in the current MU since the first one.
Power Man & Luke Cage‘s David Walker was up next to talk Nighthawk, a book that takes its cue from the 2003 Supreme Power MAX series; so don’t be shocked to see “bones sticking out” in the pages of the urban mythical Chicago vigilante’s comic. “Yeah–he’s kind of messed up,” Walker deadpanned. James Asmus compared the thorny, complicated morality play of his globally political All-New Inhumans to the decisions Rick has to make in The Walking Dead. Uncanny Inhumans‘ Charles Soule backed Asmus, claiming that both Inhumans titles will feature major complications coming out of CW2. In the coming weeks, readers will also find out how unlikely couple Medusa and Johnny Storm met and hooked up. “Just imagine they smelt like burnt hair,” Bendis joked. Soule then shifted focus to his Star Wars titles, pushing his collab with Phil Noto on Poe Dameron to the fresh-but-familiar feel of The Force Awakens. Bendis can’t contain himself. “Do we find out in your ‘Poe’ comic how he turns into Apocalypse?” The former Daredevil writer also claimed how he was more than happy to pass the baton to Brubaker (and the current DD scribe who gave Matt his secret idenity back, in Soule), so “you don’t turn into crappy Alan Moore”. Despite the lack of major news bits, at least you kept us entertained, BMB. – Travis Moody
Containment is the new crazy virus show from beloved producer Julie Plec (Vampire Diaries). Set in Atlanta (based on the popular Belgian series Cordon), this might be the first CW show in recent memory without any superheroes or vampires. Yeah, I’m shocked too. First, the premise: After a sick Middle Eastern man is released from a hospital, people begin to get violently ill. As the infection becomes fatal for the first couple of folks, the horror sends the hospital and the city’s government into a wide-spread panic. “We had consultants from the CDC, so we’re really proud of [the accuracy] on how things would go down and how a virus would go through your system,” said one producer. “Bad News Barbie,” is how Claudia Black (Farscape) — who plays a doctor in charge of quarintining the crime scene from the rest of the state — accurately describes her character.
Directed by veteran TV pilot expert David Nutter (Supernatural, The X-Files), the rest of the ep covers an assortment of characters from all areas of the city–likely preventing Containment from becoming too “genre.” The virus is also played out bloody and painful, perhaps which makes this show not ideal for the squeamish. “This was the pilot of the season. Word gets around. There was no question that if anyone got to opportunity to audition for this pilot you were very lucky,” Black confidently expressed. But, really? Here’s my problem with that statement: why are all these characters so terrible and uncharismatic? For a city taken over by a virus, there was absolutely no life in these people, with too many scenes that appear like bad infomercials. Unfortunately, this Divine critic couldn’t care any less if these characters got sick and died. Maybe I’ll just que up Cordon on my Netflix account instead. – Derek Vigeant
Stay tuned and BOOKMARK this very piece for more WonderCon panel reviews from Moody, Derek, Myke and Dana the next few days!