WonderCon 2009Continuing the tale of our late-February vacation (starting with Cambria and Hearst Castle and moving on to Monterey and Carmel, we catch up to San Francisco itself and two days at WonderCon.

Note: If you want to skip straight to the photos, head over to my Wondercon 2009 Photo Set on Flickr.

We’d been to WonderCon once in 2008 and had a great time, and while we weren’t planning to make it an annual trip, the timing worked out such that we’d be in San Francisco the right weekend anyway.

Staying in San Francisco: The Mosser

View from the Mosser Hotel.Last year we stayed at the Mark Twain, which was okay, but this year on my brother’s recommendation we stayed at the Mosser Hotel. It was quite nice, although the rooms were still extremely small by modern standards — small enough that instead of an actual desk, there’s a fold-out desk on the armchair. There’s also a flatscreen TV with both pay-per-view and video game rentals, and an AT&T wireless hotspot accessible from the room. The staff was nice, and the location was perfect. We were in a decent area of town, near restaurants, 5 minutes from the Moscone Convention Center one way, 5 minutes from a BART, MUNI & cable car station the other way, and right across the street from the official convention hotel.

Day 4: Friday (Feb 27) at WonderCon

After Thursday’s long drive, we slept in Friday morning and made our way to the convention center around 11:00. The “line” to get to the registration area moved quickly enough that it might as well not have been a line, and there were only a few people in front of us at the badge pick-up windows, so we made it through the whole process in only a few minutes. Then we stood in line for 45 minutes waiting for the hall to open at noon. Oh, well!

We started by making a beeline to the BOOM! Studios booth to pick up several copies of the Farscape #1 WonderCon exclusive variant — one for us, and several more for people at the Terra Firma message board. Series writer Keith R.A. DeCandido was there signing them, and we chatted a bit with him and with another Farscape fan. After that I got in line for the DC booth, and Katie went off to explore. I picked up a bunch of random swag from DC, some of which I want to keep and some of which I’ll probably offer to people on Speed Force.

Cowboy Bebop: Faye Valentine and JuliaNext I headed over to Artist’s Alley to track down some of the artists connected with Comic Book Tattoo for signatures. I’d gotten a few of them (including Tori Amos herself!) at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, but took the massively heavy lead weight book back to my hotel room at the first opportunity, not thinking that I could catch up with more of the creators. So now I’m trying to fix that.

I found David Mack first, and he had a whole spread of Kabuki material. As we talked, I admitted that I’d never read any of it, and he not only offered me a few issues of the latest series for free, he signed them!

I wandered the floor a lot, picked up some cheap trades, scarfed down a small pizza and eventually went up to a panel on “The Real Archeology Behind Indiana Jones.” It was run by an archeology professor from some college out near Lake Tahoe, and he had this talk about the major artifacts in the four films — what is known about the Ark of the Covenant, where people are looking for it, (or in some cases, claim they’ve found it but won’t let anyone see) — the actual stories behind the Sankara stones and the Thugee cult — legends around the history of the Holy Grail, and where people think it might be — the history and legends of the various crystal skulls, none of which can be verifiably traced to an actual excavation.

Batman asks a question at DC Nation.Then I hit DC Nation, Katie hit panels on 2D visual effects and the shift from a cowboy metaphor to a super-hero metaphor in US Politics (all those Obama-as-Superman images), we met up at the BOOM! panel, and finally went to the Wonder Woman screening.

Friday was, overall, really laid-back. The crowds were light, people in line were patient, and there weren’t even too many people in costumes. Even DC Nation was relaxed, though that’s probably in large part because Dan Didio was at Megacon and Ian Sattler was running the panel.

Wonder Woman

We had no trouble getting into the Wonder Woman screening, and managed to get seats maybe 10 rows back. I noticed a woman I recognized in a WW outfit (someone I’d seen as WW at other cons). Oddly, they kept calling it the movie’s premiere, even though it had premiered at New York Comic-Con a few weeks earlier, so at best this was the west coast premiere. Still, the movie was very good and amazingly epic for a 90-minute animated film. (Reviews are all over the place now that the DVD is out, so I’ll skip the details.)

Wonder Woman Discussion Panel.

After the screening there was a discussion panel with producer Bruce Timm, screenwriter Michael Jelenic, actress Virginia Madsen (Hippolyta), director Lauren Montgomery, and executive producer Gregory Noveck. They talked about making the film for quite a while, then took audience questions until their time was almost up.

Then they ran the trailer for the next DC animated project: Green Lantern: First Flight. I’m not a huge Green Lantern fan, but this looks suitably cosmic in scope and sci-fi in tone, and frankly, that’s the way I prefer the character, so it looks promising!


Shh... The con is sleeping!After the discussion, we cleared out. Neither of us wanted to watch a bunch of Star Wars fan films at this point (I would have 10 years ago, but these days? Not a priority.), and we were hungry. So we headed back to the hotel to change and went out to look for someplace to eat dinner. We ended up at a very good steak restaurant in the Marriott, then went back to the hotel where stayed up way too late uploading photos and dashed off a first impressions post of the con.

Update: On the way out, though, we stopped at the mezzanine walkway, which has a long glass-enclosed view into the main floor. It was eerie to see all the booths set up, fully lit, but with covers thrown over tables, and the aisles empty except for (as far as I could see) one person.

Continued in Saturday at WonderCon.

For all the griping and complaining about the way DC Comics managed the Flash relaunch, I’m beginning to think maybe Wonder Woman fared even worse. At least Flash has stayed monthly, and has never been delayed by more than a week (unless you count the shipping mishap in December that prevented the book from reaching the west coast).

Wonder WomanWonder Woman launched with a 5-part story, “Who is Wonder Woman?” involving both Diana, Amazon Princess of Themyscira and Donna Troy. Flash launched with a 6-part story, “Lightning in a Bottle,” setting up Bart Allen to take over as the Flash. Flash is already up to #8. Wonder Woman has gone bimonthly, and is only up to #4. And it’s so far behind, DC has scheduled a fill-in story for #5. The conclusion “will be rescheduled at a future date.” Naturally, the book collecting the story has been delayed as well.

So here we are, nearly a year out from One Year Later, and one of DC’s flagship characters is still mucking about with a semi-origin story. It’s kind of sad, because I picked up #1 out of curiosity, and thought they did an admirable job of simplifying Donna Troy’s backstory for new readers. It’s complicated—but it doesn’t have to be, if you can focus on just what’s necessary.

On the plus side, Wonder Woman fans knew where Diana was by the end of issue #1, unlike us Flash fans who had to wait until #6 to get a hint of Wally West’s fate, and it’s been clear from Justice League of America and other books, that Diana would be coming back, so they probably haven’t had to deal with the great schism that’s divided Flash fans over the past year.

I was idly wondering about the way super-heroes and villains are named—not the code names, but the actual names like Clark Kent, Matt Murdock, etc. Was Hunter Zolomon destined to become Zoom? Was Roy G. Bivolo doomed to become the Rainbow Raider the moment his parents named him? And why do so many people with the initials L.L. gravitate toward Superman?

Infinite Crisis Taveren“Obviously, he’s a ta’veren!” Katie said. I laughed for a second, but then remembered an interview I’d read about Infinite Crisis. It actually fits.

Ta’veren is a term from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time that refers to a person who forms a focal point for history (or, from another perspective, destiny). Threads of probability bend around them, and the unlikely becomes likely. Babylon 5 referred to the concept as a nexus. “You turn one way, and the whole world has a tendency to go the same way.” Continue reading

I recently rented two of the Justice League DVDs. So far I’ve gotten through the opening 3-parter, “Secret Origins,” and the 2-part “Paradise Lost.” I have no idea how far into the series the second disc is.

A scene that stuck in my mind was the newly-formed League looking around their headquarters. As the heroes are deciding whether to join, the Flash remarks on its well-stocked kitchen and offers, “Iced mocha?” Wonder Woman tastes one and says, “Mmm, they don’t have anything like this on Themyscira. I’ll stay.” Aha! The way to an Amazon’s heart is through iced mochas!

So it was even more funny in “Paradise Lost” when the Flash started fantasizing about Paradise Island: “The beach, hundreds of women, and me, the first man they’ve seen in, well, ever. And what do I have with me? Iced mochas for everyone!”

Anyway, on to the review: It’s certainly better than I remember Superfriends being. It does still have a significant cheese factor at times, Continue reading