New York Comic Con 2016 Day Two Writeup. Today will likely be my longest day at the convention this year – I arrived before the doors opened and I left after the floor closed. In that time, I got to see some great panels, do some exploring on the floor, and wait on lines. Lots and lots of lines. Let’s get right into it!
Inside the Upside Down – The Stranger Things Panel
Barb is dead. Long live Barb.
Is there a show this year that has been as much of an instant cultural phenomenon as Stranger Things? I don’t think anybody really had this show on their radar right up until it hit Netflix, and then suddenly, it caught on like wildfire. This time last year, no one at the convention had even heard of it. Now, it’s so popular that they can hold Stranger Things cosplay contests – waiting on line for this panel, I was stuck in a sea of Elevens, Karen Wheelers, and of course, Barbs.
This was the first Main Stage panel of the day, and I knew it would be packed. The panel was moderated by Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz and it consisted of a loose conversation with Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) and David Harbour (Chief Hopper). Harbour was a few minutes late for undisclosed reasons and the panel started without him, though he received thunderous applause when he ran onstage.
If you were looking for news out of the Stranger Things panel, there was very little. Harbour definitively stated that “Barb is very much dead,” though the next season will deal with some of the loose ends from Season One, including her death. Brown and Harbour also said that they’ve received the first few scripts for Season Two, and they are “insane.” There will be more of the Nancy/Steve/Jonathan love triangle, and it was implied that Eleven and Hopper could have a “rich emotional arc.”
But the appeal here wasn’t news about next year. The appeal was seeing these two charismatic actors bounce off of each other. They have a very funny, easygoing air that kept the panel moving, while occasionally giving insight to their process. Brown, at twelve years old, was surprisingly outgoing and fun to watch – the exact opposite of her character on the show, giving me a greater appreciation for her work there. Whether proclaiming her love for The Vampire Diaries, talking about playing Pokemon Go with the other kids on set, or mispronouncing “Poughkeepsie” as “Pepsi,” she made it a worthwhile panel for any Stranger Things fan.
Adult Swim Panel Block
Every year, Adult Swim brings a few of their shows to New York Comic Con to the Main Stage. Their most popular show, Rick and Morty, had its representation at the convention (a photo setup, a virtual reality game, and probably hundreds of cosplayers), but it was not present at the panel. But it did bring three strong contenders, including one with a very fervent fanbase.
The first show on display, Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, is beginning its third season on October 23rd. The show is a dark comedy about demons working for the devil in Hell. We were shown the first episode of the season, in which Satan wants to have a child and accidentally impregnates Gary, one of his employees. It had some very funny moments, and I expect it’s exactly what fans of the show will want to see. The panel and Q&A consisted of Dana Snyder (also of Aqua Teen Hunger Force), Matt Servitto (of Banshee), Casper Kelly (creator of Too Many Cooks), and Skyping in from Italy, series star Henry Zebrowski. It was a very light, breezy, funny panel. As far as announcements go, this season will feature guest appearances from Jon Glaser, Andrew Daly, and Dustin Diamond (playing himself). Kelly also announced that he is working on another Too Many Cooks-esque segment to air at 4 AM for the network, and it will be “about video games.”
The second show is a new one, also premiering October 23rd, called Dream Corps LLC. I had no idea what to expect from this, but I was impressed by what I saw. We were shown the first two episodes of the series, and in a nutshell: this is a show about a mad doctor who goes into a patient’s dreams to fix what’s wrong with them. The parts in the real world are live-action, but the parts inside the dream are rotoscoped animation, giving the show a unique look that no other show on TV has at the moment. The first episode is funny, but is bogged down a bit by having to set up its unique concept. The second episode is stronger, featuring some very funny moments that had the whole room cracking up.
After the episodes aired, TERRY, the robot in the series voiced by Stephen Merchant, rolled out onto the stage to introduce the panel. Series creator Daniel Stesson, stars John Gries and Nick Rutherford, and executive producer John Krasinski were all present (Merchant himself walked out a few minutes later as well). That level of talent working on the show is a great sign, and they all seemed genuinely engaged and interested in the project. Naturally, Krasinski and Merchant got the most questions, engaging in a playful feud pitting the American Office against the British Office (Merchant didn’t care, joking that he “gets paid either way”).
The third and final show Adult Swim brought on stage was Venture Bros, a show with a passionate fanbase, but not one that had much to show. Series creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer were on hand, saying they were “almost finished” writing Season Seven, and that it’ll hopefully air around this time next year. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t anything to show, because these two are a blast to watch. They’re clearly passionate about the work and about the fans. They blame their “dedication to quality” for the long wait between seasons of the show. They’re sarcastic, they’re witty, and they clearly know their audience.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Ghost Rider Panel and Screening
So I went to this panel last year, and I remember coming away thinking it was fine. Last year, Jeph Loeb and Clark Gregg were on hand to introduce a middling episode of the show. This year, Agents of SHIELD had a lot more on hand. Loeb, the head of Marvel TV, moderated the panel as always, which featured Gregg as well as Chloe Bennett and Gabriel Luna, the series’ new Ghost Rider. There was a short Q&A at the beginning, in which Luna described the process of becoming Ghost Rider and Bennett described the current season as Skye’s “season of rebellion.” Gregg mentioned Life Model Decoys making an appearance in the season, and implied a connection to Doctor Strange. When asked if Agents of SHIELD will ever connect to Marvel’s Netflix series, Loeb had one thing to say: “Stay tuned.”
And, as a fun surprise, it turned out Gregg, Bennett, and Luna put together a short video to screen at the panel in which the three of them donned Marvel-related cosplay and walked around the show floor in disguise. The trio talked to patrons on the floor about their favorite Marvel shows and characters and got some funny results, before revealing themselves and seeing the fans freak out. Marvel is always great at creating fun extra content for the fans (the recent Team Thor short comes to mind) and this was a great treat that could only happen at New York Comic Con.
And finally, we were shown the upcoming third episode of Agents of SHIELD‘s fourth season, entitled “Uprising.” And as someone who has been down on the show for most of last season, I will say that I was incredibly impressed with this episode. I can’t discuss any story points due to spoilers, but the episode scales back significantly to play out like a superhero version of a John Carpenter thriller. The fights are terrific in the main story and it’s just a great action narrative, while the episode’s subplots deal with more human and emotional conflict than the show usually engages in. Hopefully, the episode is an indication of the series going forward – I’ve enjoyed the show to varying degrees throughout its run, though I feel like it never really found an identity. But this episode is a version of the show I can get behind.
And that’s it for Day Two of New York Comic Con! Tomorrow, I’ll be doing my best to get into The Walking Dead panel at Madison Square Garden, which I’m sure I will have no difficulty doing whatsoever (he said, sarcastically).
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