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25 Best Things We Saw at San Diego Comic Con 2018

From ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa wowing the crowd and Jamie Lee Curtis saving a life to the latest in geek couture fashion, these were the genuine SDCC showstoppers

Cast member Jason Momoa participates on stage during the Warner Bros. Theatrical Panel for "Aquaman" at Comic Con in San Diego, July 21, 2018. (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Cast member Jason Momoa participates on stage during the Warner Bros. Theatrical Panel for "Aquaman" at Comic Con in San Diego, July 21, 2018.

Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty

We may be a year away from the San Diego Comic Con’s 50th anniversary, which is likely to see a massive blowout for the annual gathering of geek/pop culture I.P’s, creators and fans. Still, there was definitely a void in the SDCC ecosystem in 2018, with traditional heavy hitters like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Game of Thrones were AWOL. But that also meant, however, other voices could fill the gap and seize the chance to cut through the usual hype while promoting more forceful messages. The Black Heroes Matter gathering returned to highlight African-American representations in comics; the Eisner Awards saw Marjorie Liu become the first woman ever to win for Best Writer; and panels throughout the event tackled non-commercial topics ranging from Afrofuturism to debunking the idea of “fake geek girls” to how to best battle online trolls.

“We see a surge in peoples’ ability to recognize their own rights,” said Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star Chase Masterson, who led an independent rally after the convention immigrant rights advocates and groups like the ACLU. “We see people empowered on a daily basis in the intersection we draw between human rights and pop culture.”

All that said, Comic Con was still Comic Con. On the first day, we picked up a convention bingo card created by Oni Press to promote The Long Con, a new comic about people trapped at a fan convention when the apocalypse happens. By Sunday, we’d crossed 75-percent of it off with sightings of utilikilts, giant vinyl bags, costumed service dogs and by having several of those “Wait, was that … that guy? From that thing? OMG, I think it was!” moments. (No, really, we’re pretty sure that was Navid Negahban who plays the Shadow King on Legion!) So from the socially-minded to the schwifty, we present the 2018 edition of our Top 25 Things We Saw at the San Diego Comic Con.


Black Mask Draws the Resistance

LA-based anti-establishment comics company Black Mask Studios kicked off Comic Con with the announcement they’ll produce an official Mr. Robot prequel penned by the show’s writing team. “I feel like Mr. Robot has that punk vibe to it, so we thought an indie publisher would fit nicely with that,” showrunner Sam Esmail said. But fsociety isn’t the only way the Black Mask is drop-kicking fascism: They ran a voter registration drive on the convention floor and debuted a one-off issue, CALEXIT: All Systems San Diego (a riff on the Rocket from the Crypt album), about a young woman fighting DHS internment camps through pirate radio. The publisher also dedicated precious panel time to amplify brand new work from subversive creators such as Vita Ayala (The Wilds) and Kwanza Osajyefo (Black [AF]). DM


Rallying for Rose

When Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran was harassed online to the point of leaving Instagram, blogger and podcaster Keith Chow and his team organized a rally showing public support toward the actress and her character Rose Tico. The Rally for Rose, as it was called, attracted enough attention online that director Rian Johnson himself sent love on Twitter. “We wanted to show that there is no room for hate in fandom,” Chow said later. Later that day, the eighth annual Super Asian America panel provided an opportunity for fans and creators to discuss the changing pop culture landscape and call out shenanigans like Marvel executive Jeph Loeb’s “Karate Kid” outfit, which drew loud groans from the audience. AG

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 19:  Rachel Bloom (L) and Aline Brosh McKenna from The CW Television Network's 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' pose for a portrait in the Getty Images Portrait Studio powered by Pizza Hut at San Diego 2018 Comic Con at Andaz San Diego on July 19, 2018 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Smallz & Raskind/Getty Images  for Pizza Hut)

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Prepares for Its Last Song-and-Dance

“We have to protect our voices,” star/co-creator Rachel Bloom told the crowd midway through her show’s live performance at the Balboa Theatre. “Because we’re about to film Season Four.” Still, the 80-minute set didn’t skimp on the fun; the cast took the stage cosplaying as each other’s characters (she donned hunky Josh’s tank top and board shorts; actor Vincent Rodriguez donned a blue pin-up worthy dress as Bloom’s character Rebecca Bunch) before dipping into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s extensive songbook. Though she noted that while the crowd favorite “Let’s Generalize About Men” started out tongue-in-cheek, “[then] last year happened … and it’s not that tongue-in-cheek anymore.” Still, the show whetted fans’ appetite for its 18-episode swan song – and perhaps even more tours to come. AG

Riz Ahmed and Tom Hardy'Venom' film panel, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA - 20 Jul 2018

New Spider-Men (and One Woman) Swing Through

Ever since Spider-Man himself was left … indisposed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, speculation has mounted how the upcoming movie Venom would establish a link to him. The footage shown in Hall H didn’t offer any clues on that front – but folks did get their first full-body look at Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, in the grip of the bloodthirsty symbiote. Would the bulky actor himself be willing to tangle with Tom Holland’s Spidey? “I’ll have a go, yeah,” he offered. On the lighter side, Into The Spider-Verse stars Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld were excited to make their animated debuts as Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen, two characters assuming Peter’s mantle in their respective worlds. But fans instantly buzzed when that trailer revealed that John Mulaney would voice Peter Porker – better known as Spider-Ham, a scene-stealer in the making. AG

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21:  Matt Groening (R) and Allie Goertz attend the Disenchantment panel at Comic-Con International on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Daniel Knighton/FilmMagic)

Falling Under the Spell of ‘Disenchantment’

With his new Netflix show Disenchantment, Matt Groening joins the ranks of showrunners breaking free from the shackles of network television; his team can keep those extra jokes and animated vistas that would’ve been cut to make room for a soap commercial. “This show is so visually rich it makes Futurama look like The Simpsons,” Groening told his fans. The series also departs from the usual static sitcom plotlines to pursue an epic two-season story arc following Princess Bean (Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson) as she searches for meaning in the patriarchal kingdom of Dreamland. One thing that hasn’t changed: The TV animation godhead brought the cast of Futurama to Netflix (and to Comic Con) to populate this new world, and the live previews of those voices were as fantastic as the extended clip that was screened. DM

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22:  (L-R) Norberto Barba, J.D. Pardo, Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, and Sarah Bolger speak onstage at the "Mayans M.C." discussion and Q&A during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2018 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

‘Mayans MC’ Junks the Muffler

When we found the cast of FX’s upcoming Mayans MC in their hotel lobby, we mentioned that it was odd to have the Sons of Anarchy spin-off take Hall H on Sunday, i.e. traditionally a children’s day. Actor Raoul Trujillo smiled and answered, “Well, if they’re old enough to smoke and drink …” An hour and a half later, showrunner Kurt Sutter made a road wreck of the kid-friendly policy with his F-bomb fueled panel and 13-minute preview, which revolved around the motorcycle clubs’ operation smuggling drugs in Quinceañera dresses. Sutter’s new drama is out to push envelopes and pursuing authenticity: Almost all of the cast members who joined him on stage acknowledge their performances are driven by personal experience with gang life. DM

'The Purge' Promotion at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2018. San Diego, 20.07.2018 | usage worldwide Photo by: Cindy Robichaud/Geisler-Fotopres/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Pay Less, ‘Purge’ More

“Welcome. And how do you plan to celebrate Purge Night?” The friendly salesperson greeted folks as they picked up a shopping basket inside what looked like a party supply store – it was actually an elaborate promotion for The Purge film franchise’s move to television. If someone answered that they planned to slaughter their neighbors in accordance with the 28th Amendment, they’d direct customers to a display of bats, masks and blood cleaning supplies. Or if a person wanted to bunker down at home, they’d show folks where they keep the barbed wire and armor for your family dog. With $20 in free “Purge Dollars” to spend on T-shirts, pins and other collectibles, Purge City was widely mentioned among attendees as the best giveaway experience of Comic Con. DM


Meet the New ‘Mad’ Magazine

Legendary co-founder of Bongo Comics Bill Morrison had two missions at Comic-Con: sell his brand new graphic novelization of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and prove to the world that his reboot of Mad Magazine won’t suck. The first task was cake: His Fab Four project is a gorgeous, faithful adaptation of a beloved film. The second goal wasn’t so easy, based on the montage of mean tweets they ran at the beginning of their panel. So the team went full variety show, with editor Allie Goertz grabbing a guitar and singing a satirical response to a planted audience troll. Then long-time contributor Sergio Aragones hit Morrison in the face with a pie. And they previewed the next issue’s true-to-spirit cover where Alfred E. Neuman is whac-a-moling Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr and Harvey Weinstein. DM

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 23:  Rey Mysterio attends the press room for "Lucha Underground" during C2E2 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place on April 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)

Arte Popular: Rey Mysterio, Chicano-Con and Mexican-American Representation

A San Diego native, pro-wrestling star Rey Mysterio remembers the days when you could walk up to the convention any given morning and pick up a ticket without any sort of line. This year he was in a different position: the first star of a new line from Chido Comics featuring lucha libre performers. “Wrestling is really big right now – it’s something that can really take off when you mix wrestling and non-fictional characters. For me to be the first one opening this world is a blessing,” he said. Several miles away, the Fourth Annual Chicano-Con brought more Latinx artists and creators into Barrio Logan (site of the historic Chicano Park) to fill in what co-founder David Favela describes as a representation gap: “While Comic Con is an incredible event, there really isn’t one place for all the Latino/Chicano artists to connect and inspire each other.” AG


Her Universe’s Geek Couture Celebration

Besides marking its own fifth anniversary, Ashley Eckstein’s geek couture celebration also recognized milestones for The Nightmare Before Christmas (25th), The Powerpuff Girls (20th) and the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (Just hours before, the latter had just revealed to fans that it would be returning, meaning that Eckstein would once again voice fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano.) “I would never have started Her Universe if it wasn’t for Ahsoka and The Clone Wars,” said Eckstein, wearing a dress adorned with 500 Funko Jack Skellington heads. This year’s fashions were just as far-reaching, with designers drawing upon influence ranging from Wakanda to Miyazaki. All three winners – Kristi Siedow-Thompson (fan vote), Cynthia Kirlan (judges’ vote), and Jane Burson (Singer Sewing award) – will now go on to design a collection inspired by the next Avengers film. AG


Jack Ryan’s Virtual Patriot Game

A lot of Amazon Prime Video’s promotional resources this year went toward the Aug. 31st debut of John Krasinski as Tom Clancy’s reluctant spy hero. Not only did they sponsor IGN’s annual rooftop party at the Andaz Hotel, they also put together an activation where visitors could seek out information and take part in two adventures of their own: a “Black Ops” escape room where Ryan communicated with them via walkie-talkie; and a three-story high virtual reality “training course” where would-be “analysts” tested their mettle jumping from choppers, avoiding gunfire and walking precariously across a decaying 28-foot-high plank. Oh, and did we mention the dashing (both virtually and physically) across a zipline to safety in full view of both the crowd and Twitch video streamers? Krasinski himself, however, was not on hand; he’s already filming the show’s second season. AG

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 20:  (L-R) Yvette Nicole Brown, Angela Kang, Scott M. Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Greg Nicotero, Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gale Anne Hurd, and David Alpert speak onstage at AMC's "The Walking Dead" panel during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2018 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for AMC)

Yvette Nicole Brown Knocks ‘Em All ‘Dead’

Comic Con provided definitive evidence that AMC’s Talking Dead won’t skip a beat with the former Community star at the helm. The celebrity superfan went from a regular guest on the postmortem talk show to leading the preview panels for both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead without missing a beat. And Brown didn’t just provide some much-needed diversity to the Hall H hosting ranks – her encyclopedic knowledge of both TWD and its spinoff shone through. She also kept things light hosting panels for both Glass and Halloween, where she told the crowd, “I told you we were going to church” after Curtis’ emotional fan encounter. AG

Yvette Nicole Brown and Jamie Lee Curtis'Glass' and 'Halloween' film panel, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA - 20 Jul 2018

Jamie Lee Curtis Saves a Life – Literally

The panel for Halloween – a direct sequel to the 1978 horror classic – packed an emotional punch that nobody in the Hall H crowd could have seen coming. Jamie Lee Curtis commanded the arena from the opening, explaining why it was important that heroine Laurie Strode isn’t just back, but ready to finish off MIchael Myers once and for all: “There comes a point when you say, ‘I am not my trauma. The narrative of my life is that I am not a victim.'” Bringing the lesson home, a fan revealed during the Q&A that he escaped an invasion of his own home by following Laurie’s actions in the original movie. He was ushered toward the stage, where Curtis met him with an embrace. After the panel a woman asked, “When are we getting a Women Who Kick Ass panel with Jamie Lee Curtis?” she asked. “We just did,” her male companion replied. AG

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