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NYCC 2016 Day One: Raiders of the Lost Con

New York Comic Con 2016

New York Comic Con 2016 Day One Writeup. It’s that time of year again, folks! For the third year in a row, I am covering New York Comic Con for FilmBook. I’ll be going to a whole bunch of different panels, writing them up every day right here. Plus, I’m live-tweeting and live-streaming my New York Comic Con experience. AND I’ll be recording a special episode of FilmBookCast to wrap everything up. By the end of the week, you’ll be plain sick of hearing about Comic Con (except don’t be, I’d really like to go back next year).

There’s been a few changes at NYCC this year. They’ve replaced the Empire Stage (once the second-biggest stage onsite) with an “Experience Center.” Here, a lot of different booths are set up offering different kinds of VR experiences. Plus, many of the big panels have been outsourced offsite, to places like the Hammerstein Ballroom and Madison Square Garden. Both of my major panels today were in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and they kicked off my Comic Con experience in a big way.

Ash vs Evil Dead Panel

So, I went to this panel last year, and I’ll get this out of the way: I’m a massive Evil Dead fan. I love the film series to its core, and I love the Ash vs Evil Dead series, a great continuation of one of cinema’s great characters. But there was no way this panel could top last year, which was moderated by Kevin Smith, featured Sam Raimi in attendance, and surprised the audience by screening the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead before anyone else in the world had seen it.

But hey, this was fun, too! The panel was moderated by Doug Benson (podcast fans should know him from Doug Loves Movies), and featured the whole cast of the show: Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and newcomers to the season Michelle Hurd, six million dollar man Lee Majors, and Evil Dead veteran Ted Raimi. As always, Campbell dominated the show, but everyone else in the cast got their moment to shine. The audience Q&A gave way to bits like Ted Raimi impersonating Lee Majors, Lee Majors impersonating Ted Raimi, a Xena chant, and Campbell giving fans 10 dollars a piece for compliments.

On the news front, this panel was light – the cast won’t say anything certain regarding a potential season three. It was implied that time travel may play a role this season, akin to Army of Darkness. And, when asked if there would ever be a sequel to the Evil Dead remake, Campbell wouldn’t give anything definitive – he did say, however, that since director Fede Alvarez recently found great success with his thriller Don’t Breathe, he “probably doesn’t need” Evil Dead anymore.

After the Q&A, the audience was shown Season 2, Episode 2 of Ash vs Evil Dead, which will air this Sunday, October 9th. Without giving too much away, I will say that it’s a fairly standard, if enjoyable, episode of the show, with one sequence that is completely insane. If Evil Dead is little more than a vehicle to see Bruce Campbell get beaten up in embarrassing ways, then this episode delivers big time. A very enjoyable episode to end a very enjoyable panel.

John Wick Chronicles VR Experience

I had some time between panels, and so I decided to explore this new “Experience Area” where the Empire Stage used to be. When I did, I came across the John Wick Chronicles virtual reality game. I’ll admit to not being as big into video games as I used to be, and I had never tried VR before. But I love 2014’s John Wick with a passion, and I figured this game would be as good as any to try it out for the first time.

So when I tell you that this was possibly the most immersive gaming experience of my life, I hope you believe me. You guys, for ten minutes, I was John Wick. The game demo starts you off in the continental hotel lobby before taking you to the rooftop, where you fight a series of enemies and then a large helicopter. The mask is laid over your eyes, headphones go over your ears, and the entire world is drowned out around you. All you see is your enemies ahead.

Before I played, I was watching others playing who were moving around, ducking, kneeling, taking cover, and I thought, “No, that won’t be me.” I’m generally not one to be running around in public to play a video game. But once those goggles went on, I got into it. I truly felt like I was in this world and that I was John Wick. I may try out another game tomorrow just to try and recreate the experience, but I have to say that from what I saw, I was incredibly impressed.

Legends of the Hidden Temple panel

So, I did not intend on attending this panel, but I had to show up early for the Archer panel and I ended up seeing most of it. If you’re unfamiliar, Legends of the Hidden Temple was a game show on Nickelodeon in the 1990s, and it is being adapted into a movie for the network that’s airing this Thanksgiving. The kids cast for the movie were here, plus the original host Kirk Fogg, and voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, who narrated the show and plays Olmec. It seemed like a fun panel for fans, spending most of its time on a Q&A. A brief trailer for the new movie was shown towards the end as well.

The highlight here was Dee Bradley Baker, who was asked many questions about his other work. Over the course of the hour, he performed the voices for Olmec, Appa (from Avatar: The Last Airbender), Numbuh Four (from Codename: Kids Next Door), and Klaus (from American Dad). It was also announced that, in addition to Legends, Hey Arnold!, and Rocko’s Modern Life, Nickelodeon will be bringing back Double Dare for an anniversary special, with the possibility of more in the future. It’s a good time to be a 90’s kid on Nickelodeon, for sure.

Archer panel

This is a panel I’ve always wanted to go to and never got the chance, so I was incredibly psyched to get into this. Fans of the FX animated series Archer know that the cast is one of the sharpest on TV, so seeing them all in a room together was a delight. The panel consisted of H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash, and Lucky Yates (notable absences: Judy Greer and series creator Adam Reed).

Much of the panel was focused on the show’s upcoming eighth season, which looks to be a huge departure for the series. The season will take place in 1947 and it will be a hard-boiled detective noir story. The show has taken to reinventing itself every once in a while (Season 5, Archer Vice, is my personal favorite), and this idea has a lot of potential. It also appears to be ignoring the Season 7 cliffhanger, saving that for a later date (potentially Season 9). This might upset some fans, but if the show continues to be funny, then I’ve got no complaints.

Other confirmations include the return of Barry, Len Trexler, and Babu the Ocelet. Every character will be sort of alternate versions of themselves in the new season – Archer and Cyril appear to be private detectives, Pam is only referred to as “Poovey,” Krieger is a (possibly Nazi) bartender, and Lana is a lounge singer (Aisha Tyler does actually sing in the role). To put it in language nerds will understand, Tyler describes it as “like the New 52.”

Other than some stills, we weren’t shown anything from the new season, though they did announce a new book called The Art of Archer, featuring a foreword from Christian Slater. But seeing this cast together, insulting fans during the Q&A and cracking jokes (Benjamin and Yates were especially funny) was more than enough to make up for the lack of footage. This panel was a blast, and a perfect way to end the day.

And that, dear readers, concludes Day One of my NYCC coverage. Tomorrow, I’ll be going inside the Upside Down as I attempt to get into the Stranger Things panel (I can picture the line to get into that already). I’ll be tweeting and live-streaming my Comic Con experience at FilmBook’s Twitter account, and you can follow me as well if you’re so inclined.

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About the author

Michael Smith

Mike Smith is an avid filmgoer from New York who loves to hear his own voice - luckily his work as a podcaster on FilmBook allows him to do just that. Mike graduated from The College of Saint Rose in Albany with a degree in communications, and is ready to dole out critical analysis of all your pop culture fixations. Mike is the host of FilmBookCast and can frequently be seen at his local movie theater, patiently explaining to his friends that Superman Returns is a misunderstood masterpiece.

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