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The official start of summer is just days away in Denver, Colorado, and with it returns Denver Comic Con – back for its fifth year! The Mile High City plays host to fandoms across all of fantasy and science fiction, with everyone converging on the Denver Convention Center for the three-day gala. DC Comics, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones are two of my most fun obsessions. Accordingly, the coverage provided in this space will be dedicated to the big happenings in those universes this year.
For Day 1, “Girl Power” took center stage as DC Comics looked both to its future and its past. Early in the afternoon, fans of DC Superhero Girls got a sneak preview of the TV franchise’s first graphic novel, Finals Crisis. The Superhero Girls – who consist of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Katana and Bumblebee – are currently in the second season of their animated television series. The show is set in the fictional Superhero High School (SH-HS). Under the direction of Principal Amanda Waller and Vice Principal Gorilla Grodd, the girls are receiving their education in what it means to become a superhero.
The featured panelists for the rollout included the graphic novel’s writer Shea Fontana, as well as its editor, Marie Javins. Both creators agreed that both the television series and its accompanying comic line signal a new milestone for DC Comics overall.
“Historically, there hasn’t been a lot out there for young girls,” Fontana explained. “We wanted to make these girls the heroes of their own story.”
Javins agreed, pointing out that these established stars of the DC universe provided a unique opportunity to talk to young girls, particularly those in elementary education.
“None of these characters are new,” she said. “They just hadn’t been properly utilized for that.”
Javins also noted that, while the primary audience is young females, boys can also enjoy the stories because the writing should appeal to everyone. In addition, characters such as Hawk, Hal Jordan and Cyborg can also be seen in occasional supporting roles. The graphic novel will debut in comic book stores on June 23. By the end of the month, it will be available through any book retailer.
Later in the afternoon, fans of DC Comics’ signature heroine, Wonder Woman, gathered to commemorate the character’s 75th anniversary. The panelists for this discussion had not only spent time drawing the famous Amazon from Themyscira, but also a diversity of strong, fan-favorite female characters. Among them were Trina Robbins (also of Xena: Warrior Princess comics), Cat Staggs (Supergirl comics), Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics), and Joe Staton (the Huntress).
The artists delighted listeners with a lively debate about the history of Wonder Woman. Included were viewpoints on whether her uniform signified empowerment, if her recent power-coupling with Superman was beneficial to the character, and whether her infamous depictions as “tied-up” (during DC’s Golden Era) were more about female advancement or fetishist titillation. Trina Robbins, a pioneering underground comix artist and the first woman to draw Diana Prince, believed the focus on the bonds, themselves, was a misplaced concern when it came to understanding her character.
“She always broke her own bonds,” Robbins asserted, “and she also ended up saving the guy (Steve Trevor).”
As the focus shifted more toward the epic heroine’s future, the opinions of the panel converged on the intrigue presented by Wonder Woman’s new “Rebirth” storyline. As DC has launched this new era for its Justice League heroes, Diana has discovered that her origin isn’t quite everything she was told and must now uncover mysteries of her own past.
“I think it’s incredibly interesting,” Cat Staggs said. “The notion, that she has to figure out who she is, is a good story device.”
Though Doctor Who may not be airing any new episodes for 2016, the Whovian community showed no lack of enthusiasm for DCC. Fans of the “Mad Man in a Box” kicked off their weekend with a Friday morning panel dedicated to tips and tricks of memorabilia collecting. The experts on hoarding all things “Who” were Shad Gray of Whovian fan-site Torchwood Seven, Jeff Allen of the Denver fan community Mile High Who, Clayton Loper of Boulder’s Time Warp Comics, as well as Heather and Thomas Maloney of the Doctor Who Geekport Podcast.
With the entire Comic Con Dealer’s Room only an escalator ride away, Gray first provided insights on the benefits of con shopping.
“When it comes to artwork, cons are phenomenal,” Gray observed. “You won’t find that on sites like Ebay.”
However, he also acknowledged the temptation to spend money right away once faced with the overwhelming stimuli of a convention showroom.
“Never buy at the first stall,” Gray cautioned.
That discipline can also serve collectors well when they are shopping in other venues such as online retailers. Jeff Allen, who first began acquiring Doctor Who episodes when they were made available on VHS cassettes, recommended utilizing features such as Amazon.com’s wishlist. Through that product, consumers can keep track of the most competitive prices published for the items they seek.
“Patience is a virtue and will save you money.”
As important as those mindsets are when deciding to purchase, the panel also discussed important outlooks for when not to buy. If the hobby of collecting begins to feel more like an obsession that each acquisition relieves rather than a hobby that delivers joy at each discovery, it’s valuable to take a break. Thomas Maloney also advised that collecting for the sake of flipping merchandise is equally problematic.
“Don’t collect to make money. Don’t collect if it’s not about fun.”
With two days left in the DCC experience for Whovians, opportunities for fun shouldn’t be in short supply.
Near the end of Day 1, Doctor Who fans came back together for a presentation on the music featured through the television program. Sebastian DeTemple, Mary Odbert and Cali Thrailkill toured attendees through the various themes of each Doctor Who companion since the show’s 2005 reboot by the BBC. Starting with Billie Piper’s character of Rose and moving through the recently-ended run of Jenna Coleman’s Clara, fans not only examined the instrumentation and melody utilized for each of the TARDIS travellers, but specific placements for when those themes appeared in episodes. Regardless of what any participant felt each piece of music said about each companion, no one disputed that the work of composer Murray Gold has become both an enjoyable and indelible feature of the science fiction series.
What I Took Away
Day 1 of Denver Comic Con, for both DC Comics and Doctor Who, greatly focused on the folks who don’t perform in front of the camera lens. Composers, Page and Cover Artists, as well as the fans themselves took center stage as the weekend festivities began. Seeing the burgeoning interest for compelling female characters was a hopeful sign that the momentum first provided by the appearance of Marvel’s Agent Carter and Jessica Jones, DC’s Supergirl and Wonder Woman, and Star Wars’ Rey would expand. My Day 2 coverage will build on that trend, spotlighting the arrival of Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey at Denver Comic Con. In addition, I’ll go more in-depth into the launch of DC’s Rebirth and explore what fans of the Justice League characters can expect in the coming months as their storylines come more into focus.