Wondercon 2009

WonderCon is the annual San Francisco comic book convention that claims to be second largest of its kind next to the San Diego Comic-Con. As GR's resident comic book guy, I was already planning on attending. After all, it's only a BART ride away and free to the press.

Who watched the Watchmen? (And who didn't but then did)

The biggest thing going on was the Watchmen panel (the film) on Saturday morning, which I did not get a seat for… and a screening of the Watchmen movie, which I did get a seat for… but couldn't go, so I gave it to Greg Damiano. By some miracle, I did end up seeing the film, post-con on Monday through an astounding turn of events.

So I bet you wanna know what I thought about it?

Well, let me just say it was well-done but felt like a montage of selected scenes from the graphic novel put on the by the Watchmen Players of South Essex. Some good acting, some bad acting, some very fancy special effects, and a satisfactory ending. All in all a bit tepid, so to speak. You will enjoy it, but you might enjoy it more if you're not a rabid fan or never read the book. After all, a movie is more interesting if you don't know how it ends.

The Capcom Booth

Only a handful of game companies were on hand for the event and out of all of them, Capcom had the largest presence. They had a ton of cool stuff for sale, including the famous Mega Man 9 cartridge ($50, yikes!). Demos of Bionic Commando, Resident Evil 5, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, were all playable along with the first North American appearance of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

If you love the series, be prepared to keep on loving it. As per tradition, the ability to transfer your saved data from the last Monster Hunter game in the series will, of course be returning, along with the quirky yet effective Gun Lance. Altogether, there will be 11 different weapon classes to choose from, with an almost infinite number of variations along with a vast assortment of armors.

The monsters are bigger than ever; that is, "giant evil dragon reigning black hell down upon you" big. Bigger monsters of course mean higher hunting ranks; Felyne Fighters get an upgrade as well to Knighthood status and will be of more help than in their previous incarnations.

There's no exact date yet for a release but it should be sometime in the early summer.

Sit Down, Shut Up Panel

The first panel I attended was for the new Fox animated series Sit Down, Shut Up. It's about a group of narcissistic high school teachers done in a style similar to that Mission Hill's but with photo backgrounds.

Guest speakers included Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Henry Winkler (The Fonz), the voice of Sponge Bob Squarepants (Tom Kenny), and the fat kid from Good Burger (Kenan Thompson). The executive producer, Mitch Hurwitz, who just happens to be the same guy responsible for Arrested Development was on hand as well (plus Simpsons executive producer Josh Weinstein), so most Q&A had little to do with the new show and more to do with when we would see the rumored AS movie. Which was lucky for me, since I had a bet with fellow GR writer, Greg Damiano, that the first question from the audience would be about it (thanks for the dollar, Greg!).

Apparently, it's still under construction but on the road to actually being made.

I'm a big fan of Fox's current animated lineup and I'm curious to see how this show fares. Look for it to air Sunday April 19th on Fox.

The EA booth and the Qosmio

The next stop was the EA booth to check out Toshiba's latest and greatest in gaming laptop design, the Qosmio. When looking at these machines, you start to feel that you are living in the future. They have the power and the technology to make portable gaming stronger, faster, and better than before. Although a little bit on the heavy side at about 9 lbs., it is still way easier to carry around and set up for a LAN party than an Alienware tower with a liquid cooling system and a flat-screen monitor.

I watched Greg play Mirror's Edge for a bit and took my turn on some Burnout Paradise. Graphically, the systems are on par with a modern home theater system utilizing some powerful Nvidia graphics processor with up to 1GB of internal memory. If you're on the market for a new PC gaming rig and you're curious about pricing, you can check out the full specs and customize as you see fit at Toshiba's site. Depending on what you're looking for in a system, you could probably get yourself something decent for under $1,000.

Nvidia was also showing off their new GeForce 3D Vision technology. It actually works pretty well at creating a sense of depth perception. When you move your head around, the 3D projection angles also changes. I tried it out for a bit on Burnout Paradise, which was a good choice. As I hit the nitrous button and launched my car off a ramp through a billboard, I knew these guys were onto something. But as with any proprietary technology, there's a catch. You'll need a monitor that is “GeForce 3D Vision ready” in order to use it along with the vision kit, which includes a pair of the most stylish glasses I've seen since the invention of shutter shades. And that shit ain't cheap.

 

Kirby Crakle

Name of a punk-popish duo from Seattle who sing songs about comic book super girls and video games. They had a booth to pimp their nerd-core rock and sell some CDs. Very friendly dudes who know their pop culture well. One of the members owns a comic shop. If you like music and you're a nerd, check them out.

Telltale Games

I spent some time with the good folks from Telltale, checking out their upcoming Wallace and Gromit Grand Adventure and trying to get an on-camera interview. But every attempt was met with some sort of technical difficulty. I did get to see enough to write a preview though. On Saturday I stopped by again to meet Steve Purcell, creator of Sam & Max, and get his autograph on my at least decade-old first print copy of the comic that started it all, Surfin' the Highway. He even drew me a quick sketch of the fellas on the inner page. The guy's hands are like lightning – I swear he did the whole thing in under a minute. Flawless Victory.

I held the hoverboard

I met the actor who played George McFly in the last two Back to the Future films, Jeffery Weissman. And while his presence alone was not that monumental, he did have something with him that was, at least to me, worth noting. The hoverboard prop from Back to the Future II, which he'd let you take pictures with for a donation to Michael J. Fox foundation for Parkinsons research.

To me, the hoverboard is a symbol of my childhood innocence being lost. As a young lad watching Back to the Future II in theaters, I remember leaving the theater and being excited as I thought of all the marvelous things that awaited me in the future. I couldn't wait to get there. Now, as an adult who is closer to his thirties than his teens, I can't help but wonder… where the hell is my goddamn hoverboard?!?!?

Cyborg Mice Arena

In the future, mankind will be gone and only half-robot half-rodents will remain as kings of the world.

This was the only Xbox Live self-published community game available for demo at WonderCon. While still in its early stages (they're looking for an artist if anyone needs a job), it looks to be a lot of fun. Based around classic Smash TV-style gameplay, you move your cyber-mouse around the game's arena, blowing up robots and collecting power-ups to get to the next level. I had to hand it to the game's creator, Martin Robaszewski, for coming up with a unique idea. And while you can't pick up the game yet, patches and T-Shirts of the armed futuristic Cyborg Mice were on sale and should be available soon (hopefully) at his site.

Marvel Ultimate Comics Panel

Marvel's Ultimate line of comics could probably be summed up as a modern retelling of the Marvel Universe's history. Though that's not entirely accurate, it's good enough for a brief summary of the panel, which consisted of Mark Paniccia, the guy in charge of the Ultimate line, and a special guest by the name of Arthur Adams, who they announced would be working on a secret upcoming project.

The big announcement was that all the Ultimate comics would now be under their own line simply called “Ultimate” as opposed to being under the classic red-band, white-block letters “Marvel” logo. Oh yeah, big announcement.

Right now, there's a big crossover event going on called “Ultimatum” (don't know how they came up with that title… so… clever…), where they're killing off just about anyone wearing a cape or spandex they can find. So they took a moment to hint that they are probably going to kill off their Spider-Man and replace him with someone else.

They also showed some pretty cool art of Wolverine fighting a panda bear. [Great… now I'm picturing Hugh Jackman butchering one of my people's national treasures. ~Ed. Nick Tan]

Once the mic was opened to audience questions, things went from bad to worse. Most folks just wanted to bitch about how they shouldn't let this artist draw this comic or let this guy write that comic. Not a single inquiry was thought out beyond their fanboy lust to complain about the things they supposedly love. The last guy asked when they were going to make a Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Really, dude? You're gonna waste my time asking the most retarded question possible? Do you think the guy in charge of a struggling line of comics is going to have anything to do with that?

In summary: Read the Ultimates but never go to a panel on Marvel comics, EVER!