International: San Diego splays across the city, from hotels to the San Diego Convention Center, with an endless barrage of entertainment and premium distraction. The challenge is figuring out what to see and do in five impossibly short days, complete with panels and exclusives covering the range of pop culture. Marvel, DC, Image and every powerhouse in comics, plus every indie company with genre-flavored content, will be there hyping … something. (Also: Metallica is coming — whaattttt?) Even if it seems like comics have taken a backseat to the multimedia productions vying for our attention at Comic-Con, the medium remains very much at the forefront of programming, leading the number of panels. There are many panels worth waiting in line to attend, but here are 10 that should blow up headlines and social media in a matter of hours (follow the links for more details).
1. DC Comics: Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight
When: 3:30 P.M. to 4:30 P.M., Thursday, July 24
Spanning generations of the Dark Knight mythos, writers and artists will discuss their interpretations — and reinventions — of the Caped Crusader in honor of his 75th anniversary. Artist Neal Adams and writer Denny O’Neil transformed Batman in the ‘70s, trading the icon’s campy adventures from the ‘60s for darker cases. Writer Frank Miller brought us the grime and grit of The Dark Knight Returns before pairing with artist Jim Lee on , aka the debut of “the Goddamn Batman.” Writer Grant Morrison, in a few words, sent Batman through time and global domination, penning the Batman: R.I.P. storyline and the series Batman Incorporated, among others. Today, legends like these join the latest generation of creators — Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Geoff Johns. The panelists comprise an oral history of the superhero, with ideologies crashing like thunder over Gotham.
2. George R.R. Martin Discusses In the House of the Worm
When: 4 P.M. to 5 P.M., Thursday, July 24
If you don’t feel like waiting in line for hours and hours to see the Game of Thrones panel, come here to hear George R.R. Martin talk about another project. The brilliant mind behind GoT has a new comic series coming out in August via Avatar Press, and it has nothing to do with Westeros. In the House of the Worm is based on Martin’s eponymous science-fiction short story about a revenge plot unraveling on a planet in peril. Martin will talk about the adaptation with Avatar’s publisher, William Christensen.
3. Marvel: Avengers & X-Men AXIS
When: 4:30 P.M. to 5:30 P.M., Thursday, July 24
Two years ago, we witnessed two of the most popular superhero teams in comicdom draw lots of blood in the Avengers VS X-Men crossover series. With the teams making amends (sort of), Marvel is set to dish on Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, billed as the biggest event in the Marvel Universe this year. Marvel editors and series writer Rick Remender will discuss, and it should prove to be intriguing in light of Marvel’s recent announcement of the new female Thor and the Falcon’s inheritance of Captain America’s shield. The Internet has been speculating whether the panel will detail these transitions — in any case, it might be best place to ask about them.
4. Image Comics: I Is for…Inception
When: 11 A.M. to 12:00 P.M., Friday, July 25
Image Comics has had an incredible run since last year’s Con, earning the highest number of Eisner Awards nominations this year. This panel will bring together the talent behind some of Image’s best series to date. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky will talk Sex Criminals, a beloved comedy about a couple who can stop time — and start robbing banks — when they shack up. Crime talk continues with John Layman, writer of Chew, which features an FDA agent who receives psychic impressions from food (and, uh, human parts). Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick will talk Pretty Deadly, her fantastical Western, and artist Fiona Staples will chat about Saga, the adult sci-fi fantasy Star Wars and Harry Potter never gave us. This panel is a chance to get into the creators’ heads about creating sexy characters, new mythologies and much more.
5. IDW: Rock This Town!
When: 4 P.M. to 5 P.M., Friday, July 25
IDW Publishing is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and it’s saving a load of announcements for this panel. IDW started off publishing quite a bit of horror and sci-fi comics, but has since expanded with licensed properties like Transformers and Star Trek. The company has also been digitally reprinting seminal works across the comics spectrum like Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie. Perhaps IDW’s most impressive feat has been its Artist’s Editions series: oversized books that replicate the original pencils and inks of the auteurs behind such stories as Watchmen and Hellboy. Expect announcements on the next generation of these lines and more.
6. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
When: 2:50 P.M. to 3:50 P.M., Saturday, July 26
The 2005 film Sin City received critical acclaim for its faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s neo-noir comic series, which captures the rampant vice within the underbelly of scum metropolis Basin City. Nine years later, Miller and co-director Robert Rodriguez return with the sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Expect to see the directors and new footage of the film, based on the Sin City comic arc revolving around a photographer and a dangerous dame. If it’s anything like the first film, we’ll see a meticulous panel-by-panel reconstruction of the comic.
7. Marvel Studios
When: 5:30 P.M. to 6:30 P.M., Saturday, July 26
Marvel isn’t revealing much about its upcoming film projects, but if last year’s panel is any indication, you can expect some exciting teasers and cast appearances on Saturday. Last year, Marvel showed footage from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World, plus a few scenes from X-Men: Days of Future Past. Perhaps there’s more light to shed on Guardians of the Galaxy, set to release on August 1st, as well as Joss Whedon’s feverishly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron.
8. Fight Club: From Page to Screen and Beyond
When: 7 P.M. to 8 P.M., Saturday, July 26
This panel became a must see when Dark Horse announced that Fight Club 2, the comic book sequel to the cult novel, would be written by original author Chuck Palahniuk and drawn by Cameron Stewart (Catwoman, Batgirl). Palahniuk will take the stage with Fight Club film director David Fincher and some “special guests.” Even if the original novel and film are the center of discussion, we should hear more about the graphic sequel, set for release in May — 18 years after the novel’s release.
9. Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment: The Flash, Constantine, Arrow, and the World Premiere of Gotham with Special Appearances by Casts and Producers, Hosted by Arrow’s Stephen Amell
When: 8 P.M. to 11 P.M., Saturday, July 26
DC Entertainment, unlike Marvel, has unmasked its plans for Hall H. This panel is a chance to see footage from TV shows based on DC characters The Flash, John Constantine, Green Arrow and Gotham’s vetted police commissioner, James Gordon. Outside comics and film, Constantine and Gordon are making their first appearances, with Green Arrow going on his third season of Arrow. Here’s hoping the new Flash races past its last show circa 1990 on CBS.
10. Dynamite 10th Anniversary Panel Featuring Quentin Tarantino as He Comes to Dynamite! The Sequel to Django Unchained-Django Meets Zorro
When: 2:15 P.M. to 3:15 P.M., Sunday, July 27
The writer/director/visionary behind Django Unchained and such films as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill is transporting his latest creation into the same universe as Zorro. It may seem like a strange pairing, but we’re talking about a story dreamed up by Quentin Tarantino in collaboration with legendary scribe Matt Wagner (of Grendel and Mage fame). Both will give us the scoop on the Wild West comic, designed as a sequel to Django Unchained.
And yes, you read that correctly — Tarantino will be there, talking comics. Possibly with even more intricate thoughts on Superman’s secret identity.