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Comic-Con 2005: Day 2
If Only They Had Fastpass...

We're all headed for Carousel...
Perhaps knowing that this year's Con would be bigger than ever, Hollywood came a day early carrying some big guns.

If you come to one of these Hollywood panels, don't be fooled or frightened by the size of the line. Hall H seats over 6,000 and some change, but that means that the length of the line looks daunting to a newcomer. In truth, I saw a side of the Convention Center that I never had before, as organizers created a queue that worked so well Disney psychologists should take note. Thus I discovered the sculpture and lawn area and realized there's literally another side to San Diego.

And that line had to be experienced, as Warner Brothers started off the day with a slate of presentations that had fans drooling. The studio waited until Saturday to bring on Bryan Singer with Superman Returns (more on that later), but did not disappoint with the first look at the trailer for V For Vendetta.

The average movie-goer may not get worked up over that movie, but comic fans are always protective of Alan Moore adaptations. Especially since they've been burned before, extraordinarily.

Series artist and co-creator David Lloyd joined film producers Joel Silver and Grant Hill, but not before bringing out the one with the power to tongue tie the most ardent Alan Moore fan: Natalie Portman. When there's more time this week, I'll do a more detailed rundown of the panel. For now, the trailer looked good and Miss Portman seemed to really know something about the original graphic novel.

Please stop looking at me!!!!!!
As part of the V Celebration, Warner Brothers gave everyone Guy Fawkes masks. At a convention in which people get zombie and "Captain Spaulding" make-overs, it's still hard to top the creep factor of the sight of that mask, especially when sitting behind someone wearing it backwards.

Producer Alison Abbatte and Co-director Mike Johnson (introduced as a producer) arrived to introduce a lengthy clip from Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Showing most of the first ten minutes of the film, they even gave us a taste of Danny Elfman's performance as "Bonejangles." Of course they took questions from the audience, and directed everyone toward a great display at Gentle Giant Studios' podium, where an animator is working live on recreating a scene from the film.

Judging from the preponderance of Hogwarts' costumes and the buzz of Book 6 being released at midnight, expectations were high for the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire presentation. Yet with fans all over the place, the Potter stuff was very, very low-key. Director Mike Newell sent a taped introduction of the still in-progress trailer and ...that was it. Though Newell said this was cut together just for Comic-Con goers, it had the feel of a conventional trailer. Only some of the special effects were still in rough stages.

At least the trailer showed everyone the characters and key moments they wanted to see -- Sirius Black's appearance has been nicely realized. Quick glimpses of the mermaid and the horned dragon also flashed by. Very satisfyingly, Newell included a strong look at Mad-Eye Moody, played by Brendan Gleeson.

Before we could register that was all, that was all. Then came a videotaped introduction from Hugh Jackman for The Fountain. Director Darren Aronofsky stepped onstage to introduce a lengthy segment that was just enough to blow our minds. Again, later this week I'll do a better write-up.

It was also Star Wars day at the convention, and fans had been excitedly hovering about the pavilion. Organizers decided that fan groups such as the 501st Battalion would be relegated to the mid-level between the exhibit hall and the conference rooms, but it hasn't seemed to dim any enthusiasm for them. We should be getting a report or two on the exhibits and panels from a new writer to the Fanboy Planet fold.

Dan Didio hosted a panel called Crisis Counseling, to guide fans through the events of Infinite Crisis. Readers seem to have mixed emotions about this event; while there's a lot of excitement about it, some are resentful of the tight continuity running through the DC Universe. It's an argument that won't be settled any time soon, but it seems to be big enough that it even came up at a Marvel panel.

As has been their habit for a few years, Warner Brothers Animation sent a team of producers and writers to speak about Justice League Unlimited and The Batman, including, of course, the upcoming DVD release of The Batman vs. Dracula. Bruce Timm introduced the upcoming episode "Divided We Fall," and there is something really bracing about watching JLU with a thousand like-minded fans. It's good.

Yes, that's the Joker on the left -- Kevin Michael Richardson.
Our ambivalence toward The Batman has been well-established. But everybody involved seems earnest, and voice actors Kevin Michael Richardson and Tom Kenny appeared and were very gracious toward fans. To get our excitement up, they showed the "first act" of The Batman vs. Dracula, and home video has definitely allowed them to up the ante a little bit. If you can put aside the plot contrivance of Dracula's coffin being moved to a Gotham graveyard, it actually has a pretty good creep factor and the best Penguin line ever -- when Dracula identifies himself as "undead," the Penguin replies, "And I have to unwet myself."

Afterward, all the talent did a signing at the Mattel booth, which underscores how much the licensing opportunities dominate the industry and, of course, the convention itself.

Friday night, the Con offered a variety of programming, including the Eisner Awards and a screening of "the worst cartoons ever made." But there was a lot for everyone. And of course the Gaslamp District hosted parties throughout the land.

Check out the bonus photo gallery!


Derek McCaw


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