By Andrew A. Smith
Tribune Content Agency
July 30, 2020 — Comic-Con@Home, the attempt by the San Diego Comic-Con to replicate the show’s experience online, had at least one major similarity to its live-action predecessors: Tons of big announcements.
The show offered more than 350 panels (seriously!), which required organizers to get agreements from actors, producers, artists, writers, publishers and more; round them up and tape the discussions; and stream them on YouTube. You could watch them live, or even afterwards, for varying amounts of time. And all without the sweating, the standing in lines and the skipping of meals!
Let’s take a look at a few:
Cast members Aunjanue Ellis, Abby Lee, Jonathan Majors, Wunmi Mosaku, Jurnee Smollett, Michael Kenneth Williams and Courtney B. Vance were on hand to discuss this new HBO series, debuting Aug. 16. It features a Black man in search of his missing father in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s, while beset by eldritch threats straight out of H.P. Lovecraft (hence the title).
Both angles of the show are equally lethal for the cast. It doesn’t matter whether you’re killed by Cthulhu or a lynch mob, you’re equally dead either way.
Obviously, the panel explains, the racial themes will resonate with current events, because things haven’t improved that much since 1955. Also, the show will explore family dynamics between various characters and the larger Black experience. “It’s a show about family, in search of family,” Smollett says.
One newly revealed character is a human foe, a character named Christina Braithwhite, played by Lee. She’s “the only daughter of a leader of a secret order called the Sons of Adam … natural philosophers and alchemists” Lee said. “She’s the ultimate provocateur, the agent of chaos, the white antagonist. … She’s the Karen.”
OK, I’m sold.
THE WALKING DEAD
This panel offered a cool trailer for the season 10 finale, which has long been delayed by a real-life plague. The big news is that “A Certain Doom” finally has an air date: Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. CDT on AMC.
The weird thing is that despite being the long-touted season finale, it actually won’t be: The panel revealed that the season will be extended by six additional episodes, airing sometime in 2021. Then season 11 will also launch, also in 2021. That seems … ambitious.
Meanwhile, the panel also announced start dates for the season 6 premiere of Fear the Walking Dead (Oct. 11), and the arrival of the new show, the limited-to-two-seasons The Walking Dead: The World Beyond (Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. CDT).
Also, Maggie (Laura Cohan) is a definite. "She's coming back," Cohan said. "It's not just a visit. She's moving from pen pals to real life friends.”
THE NEW MUTANTS
The New Mutants, starring (from left) Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy, is still scheduled to hit theaters Aug. 28. (© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
This movie, which has been postponed roughly five million times, is still on the schedule to be released in theaters on Aug. 28. Does anyone really believe that?
"All I know is when the movie is about to open again, it's like there's [going to be] an asteroid that's going to hit the earth," filmmaker Josh Boone joked on the panel.
But the trailer is awesome, and makes clear what has always been assumed, that the film is based on the “Demon Bear” saga from 1984 New Mutants comics, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Also, Illyana Rasputin, code name Magik and played by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), is a badass. As is right and just.
This one lasted a whopping 80 minutes — but it had a lot of ground to cover, including all three current series, Star Trek: Lower Decks (debuting Aug. 6 on CBS All Access), Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery. There were no grand announcements about these shows, but that’s fine: Seriously, we spend a lot of time with these folks when they’re in character, so it’s nice to see them in civvies discussing the philosophy of the shows and the roles they play.
My main takeaway is that Patrick Stewart expressed satisfaction with how Picard is going. You may recall that he was initially reluctant to revisit the role. Also, Discovery’s second season’s finale will hold: The show really will continue in a heretofore unexplored far future.
The panel did announce one new show, and spent a little time with a previously announced newbie.
Star Trek: Prodigy is a new animated series aimed at children, which will air on Nickelodeon. It features some future teens who find a derelict Starfleet ship and take it on walkabout. Prodigy takes place right after Star Trek: Nemesis, and well before Star Trek: Picard.
Anson Mount discussed the repercussions of his character, Captain Christopher Pike, knowing too much about his own future when Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts. (He has learned about the terrible fate we already saw in The Cage, the pilot episode of Star Trek the original series, an episode re-purposed for the two-part The Menagerie.) The show also stars Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as a young Mr. Spock.
Amazon hosted a panel on their adaptation of the Garth Ennis-Darick Robertson series of graphic novels. It included this announcement from showrunner Eric Kripke: "Amazon, in a bold and historic push to expand their 'weirdo' demographic, has greenlit season three of The Boys."
As if to prove Kripke’s description, the accompanying trailer for the second season featured a horrifying scene involving The Boys, The Deep, a whale and a speedboat. The Boys returns Sept. 4.
Marvel’s Helstrom panel talked about horror in the real world — George Floyd, kids in cages, etc. — before getting into the show, which is of course a horror story. That seemed oddly appropriate, and I appreciated it.
Helstrom, which will premiere on Hulu Oct. 16 for 10 episodes, is a story “about good and evil, right and wrong,” as it was described by showrunner Paul Zbyszewski. The show adapts various Marvel characters and series, so we comics fan already know more than the rest of the audience about what’s going on (which I’ll share).
Helstrom stars Tom Austen as Daimon Helstrom and Sydney Lemmon as his sister Ana, children of a mysterious and powerful serial killer (it’s Satan! SATAAAAAN!) who have mysterious skills. (They’re HELLSTORM, THE SON OF SATAN and SATANA, SATAN’S DAUGHTER!) They hunt the worst of humanity, but evidently their agendas are going to diverge.
It’s not going to be pretty.
My word count is maxing out, so here’s some more news, as brief as I can make it:
Maybe all that will keep us busy until next year when, hopefully, we can all go back to San Diego!
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