Loser: The Eisner Awards
It’s not the winners of this year’s Will Eisner Comic Awards (i.e. the Oscars for comics) that were the problem; it’s that the day after the awards were given out, those who attended were talking more about what was wrong with the ceremony than who won any category. Complaints included an ill-considered joke about ICE agents coming for MAD Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragones, multiple presenters complaining about the difficulty they had with nominees’ names and commentary about how easy the convention has to be for hot girls. Perhaps it’s time for a rethink before next year’s awards?
Winner: It Chapter Two (New Line/Warner Bros.)
While Warner Bros. didn’t bring its DC heroes to the Con, its New Line Cinema unofficially kicked off Comic-Con with Wednesday night’s ScareDiego, an off-campus event that is becoming a must-attend. Conan O’Brien moderated a star-packed panel with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader and the rest of filmmaker Andy Muschietti’s Losers’ Club. They showed off an early look at the Chapter Two trailer, as well as three extended scenes that showed there are new and inventive scares in store. For those who wondered if Chapter Two‘s adult cast could match the chemistry of their young counterparts in the 2017 hit, the answer appears to be yes. There was lots of good-natured teasing (and even a duet between Muschietti and Chastain).
Loser: Game of Thrones (HBO)
Heading into the annual event, the fantasy drama series was easily the most-anticipated panel at the confab. That changed days before the convention center doors opened when creators and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss bailed on their scheduled appearance, which was poised to feature their first comments about the divisive final season and series ender. Instead, the remaining castmembers on hand were left to defend the series after a Comic-Con representative opened the session with an odd and out-of-place PSA about acceptance amid threats of panel-crashers. Not helping matters was co-star Conleth Hill, who literally blamed a “media-led campaign” for strong reaction to the final season.
Winner: Westworld (HBO)
Showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan pulled the curtain back on season three with an explosive trailer for the highly anticipated third season (coming in 2020). The typically tight-lipped married duo also were a little more forthcoming than usual and engaged in a lively discussion that was only tempered by divorce jokes between the pair when the conversation got a little too spoilery. One request: Please name the new Nazi-focused world featured in the season three trailer, because just the thought of “Nazi World” is downright horrifying.
Loser: Ruby Rose
The most San Diego would see of the star of The CW’s groundbreaking Batwoman was on hotel key cards and other promotional fare as the actress — TV’s first openly gay leading character played by an out actress of a superhero show — was a no-show in San Diego for Saturday’s panel. (Producers and Rose, in a social media post, blamed her absence on production.) The CW drama, though, did generate strong buzz from Wednesday night’s preview screening and its formal public unveiling. Bonus points to Berlanti Productions topper Sarah Schechter for her wardrobe choices during Saturday’s panel.
Winner: Tom Hooper
Not only did the Cats trailer fully paralyze Twitter and monopolize all conversations at Comic-Con on Thursday, but a couple of hours later the trailer for HBO’s His Dark Materials — of which Hooper directed a few episodes — debuted to much praise in Hall H.
Winner: Tom King
The Batman and Mister Miracle writer is on a high right now. Not only did he have an almost clean sweep at the Eisner Awards on Friday night, but his Comic-Con is to be followed by some time in Los Angeles writing the screenplay for Ava DuVernay’s New Gods movie. With a big Batman storyline starting this past Wednesday and a mystery upcoming collaboration with his Mister Miracle partner Mitch Gerads on the cards, King is… well, the current king of comics, it seems.
Winner: The X-Men (Marvel)
At a Comic-Con with few actual comics announcements, Marvel’s Saturday reveal of the first six series to be part of its X-Men relaunch (subtitled Dawn of X) felt like a big deal — even more so in the panel room where X-Men, X-Force and the other new titles were introduced, and the excitement was palpable. If this is a sign of the reception awaiting writer Jonathan Hickman’s take on the beloved franchise, Marvel has to be very excited about what lies ahead.
Winner: Undiscovered Country (Image Comics)
The end of The Walking Dead left Image Comics without a flagship title anchored by fan-favorite creators with a killer high concept hook… until Scott Snyder, Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Undiscovered Country was unveiled Friday. Described by its creators as “Land of the Lost meets Lewis and Clark,” it’s an adventure story set in an America three decades after it has been shut off from the rest of the world behind a literal wall. A limited-edition preview given away at the show revealed that there’s far more going on than any dig at today’s political reality: Expect literal monsters to accompany metaphorical ones when the series launches in November.
Winner: Riverdale (The CW)
The Archie Comics-inspired drama is carrying late star Luke Perry’s wishes by bringing his longtime friend and former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Shannen Doherty for a tribute. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that Perry, who died in March at age 52 after suffering a stroke, had been advocating for Doherty to appear on Riverdale since the beginning: “They were such good friends, and when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible, and so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role. She read the script and immediately said yes. It’s very impactful.”
Loser: Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ TV series — the ones with the same movie stars from the billion-dollar feature film franchises roles — were part of the comic book titan’s Hall H film presentation Saturday night that generated enough major announcements to make your head spin. But the ABC drama, that has long been hog-tied when it comes to direct tie-ins with the MCU, headed into the Con with news that it would end next season. Rather than having the cast take a final curtain call alongside the film (and TV!) stars, Marvel banished its first-ever primetime scripted drama series to a low-energy Thursday session in yet the latest sign of the former disassociation between its film and TV arms. Imagine what could have been if SHIELD had, from the start, regularly tied in to the MCU in way similar to what Disney+ is doing. Instead, the network remains in last place among the Big Four broadcast networks and is in the midst of rebuilding efforts.
Winner: Star Trek (CBS All Access)
Trek boss Alex Kurtzman came to Hall H to sell his ever-expanding universe, and largely succeeded in convincing the crowd that there was enough variety among his plans to sustain the franchise. Discovery pulled back the curtain on its surprise 1,000-year time jump teased at the end of season two; Rick and Morty producer Mike McMahan laid out his vision for Lower Decks, a Next Generation-inspired animated comedy that is sold as having the zaniness McMahan is known for with the heart of Trek; and Patrick Stewart — Hall H royalty in addition to being an actual knight — commanded the room with the class and calm he’s known for. The actor choked up speaking about his last day on the Next Gen set, and he revealed more details about Picard, including the fact that a slew of Next Gen stars will be appearing and that the series will involve the Borg in some way. Make it so.