Our third and final photo gallery featuring the most creative and inspiring cosplay we came across during SDCC’18!
Our third and final photo gallery featuring the most creative and inspiring cosplay we came across during SDCC’18!
Our second of three photo galleries featuring the most creative and inspiring cosplay we came across during SDCC’18! (And maybe too many Thors.)
Our first of three photo galleries featuring the most creative and inspiring cosplay we came across during SDCC’18! (And maybe too many Thors.)
Each year at San Diego Comic Con, UCLA and UC Berkeley team up to put together a series of panels dedicated towards bridging the gaps between geek culture and education. One such panel, Geek Ed: Civility vs. Anger, sought to answer the question of whether polarization in fandom is all in good fun, or if it creates barriers that prevent progress and civil discussion. To gain a bit more insight into this discussion, I spoke with panelist, pop-culture historian, and geek activist Jen Stuller.
Stuller is a proud feminist who teaches film appreciation classes at SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) and was the co-founder of GeekGirlCon, an organization that supports and celebrates women in geek culture. On the panel, Stuller was joined by Keith Chow (Nerds of Color), Dr. La’Tonya Rease-Miles (UCLA), Tony B. Kim (The Hero Within), and David Surratt (UC Berkeley). Brian MacDonald (UCLA) moderated the discussion. So can civility really help us or is that simply another code for policing others anger? Since it’s a topic that’s been on my mind, it was one of the first questions I asked Stuller. But first, I wanted to know what she might have to say about how often fans want to take ownership and set the rules for how others engage with participatory fandom.
Stuller says, “There are several connected factors surrounding the policing of fandom: feelings of ownership lead to gate-keeping. Gate-keeping is often fueled by misogyny, racism, and homophobia. There is also fear of change and fear of not being special. I have never understood why fans wouldn’t want more people to join the community. Additionally, with the mainstreaming of geek culture we’ve seen a lot of tension and toxicity about who gets to claim fan space and what constitutes a correct fandom for said space. GeekGirlCon was founded with a strict policy of NO GEEK CRED REQUIRED. You were invited to come to the celebration with your curiosity unchallenged. There, and in like-minded communities of geeks/fans embracing their identity politics and coming together as fans of many things tend to be more inclusive from the get-go.”
I wondered if Stuller could speak more about why the call for civility was important, especially in fan spaces where we see a lot of ingroup and outgroup behaviors modeled but rarely do we see ever unpack these behaviors. There’s a real dearth of investigation into how our brain’s treatment of those it classifies as outgroup lends itself to a host of behaviors that may not be all together nice. Of course not all of our behaviors informed by intergroup communication are negative. Many simply inform how we think about our identity and space within the world. It’s a big topic but knowing about it can help us digest why fan exchanges can get at best heated and at worse, become lightening rods for abuse.
When I asked Stuller why civility was important she said, “I’m a big believer in calling in vs. calling out. There is a lot to be angry about right now, and being able to feel and acknowledge that anger is part of what keeps us human. But it has to be transformed in order to be productive, in order to create change. Anger is fuel, but it is not a solution.”
That’s why Stuller is excited to see so many calls for Geek related activism. The Rally for Rose event at SDCC in support of the Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran, who recently deleted her social media accounts after a targeted harassment campaign, is a great example of turning anger into action. Something the geek community tends to respond really well to is taking on positive political statements from fan culture and using them for empowerment. I asked Stuller how we can inspire folks go one step further than empowerment towards political activation and activism.
“I think it’s important to encourage young folks to recognize that what they’re doing IS, in fact, activism, and that they can claim activist labels rather than be intimidated by them. Once they’re able to recognize their power to affect change, consciousness-raise, and advocate, they can compound that work with more traditional tactics: letter-writing, canvassing, voter-registration, petitions, and so on,” said Stuller.
As is usually the case with panels at SDCC, there’s never enough time to get into the real gritty of it all. Still, it’s encouraging to see this topic being discussed. The panel wasn’t about denying people their right to be angry it was about giving fans with different tools to handle different conversations. Hopefully this is a topic that will continue to garner discussion and exploration.
If you’d like to read a great live-Tweeting of the panel, I recommend checking out Editor at Large for Racialicious, Arturo Garcia‘s thread. For more information about Jennifer Stuller you can check out her website, Ink-StainedAmazon.com. You can also check out the other panel she was on at SDCC 2018: “What Rebellions are Built On: Popular Culture, Radical Hope, and Politically Engaged Geeks” online.
Andrea Ayres writes about comics, video games, and representation in pop-culture.
Last year, Marvel Powers United VR for the Oculus Rift caused massive crowds at the Marvel booth during SDCC. It was the first time the audience which the game was meant for got to virtually step into the shoes and furry feet of Rocket, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, and Hulk. Fast forward, one year later, and the game along with Spider-Man blew away Hall H at SDCC 2018. We got to sit down with Mat Kraemer, Lead Creative Director from the game’s developer Sanzaru Games, to find out how Powers United VR will be a Marvel story like no other.
COMICS BEAT: As we have this conversation, you’ve just exited stage right of Hall H as part of the biggest Marvel Games presentation at SDCC. No game before has ever been the focus of Hall H, not Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or even Fortnite. You guys along with Insomniac’s Spider-Man were a big part of it. What are your thoughts on that?
Mat Kraemer: Yeah it was crazy. I mean, the best thing is you work on something for so long with so many people at Oculus and Marvel Games working with Sanzaru Games, working long hours bringing this thing into fruition. We brought our launch roster 18 characters, 10 locations, 8 bosses and that amazing story trailer. I hope it conveyed to everyone the feeling the team was going for of finally being able to live out a childhood dream.
COMICS BEAT: VR is such a hard beast to put into words or even videos and I do feel like telling that little story in the trailer was the best messaging for the product.
Mat Kraemer: You know you’re a little kid, you’re imagining, only pretending to be Spiderman or Wolverine. I mean now we get to bring that dream to everybody with the Oculus Rift.
COMICS BEAT: You mentioned the 18 character roster, but Marvel has a considerably bigger library than that. Are there plans for additional characters to be added later?
Mat Kraemer: There will be DLC (downloadable content) and support throughout the game’s life cycle and all of that content is free. We can’t announce those specifics just yet but the team is definitely working on it.
COMICS BEAT: You gotta have something for Hall H next year, right?
Matt Kraemer: [laughs] It’s some pretty good stuff. And I think the fans will like and enjoy. But the best part is it’s free [DLC]. We just want to get people in there to have fun. We just announced the bundle that comes with the Oculus Rift system and the game, which hopefully will make it easier for new people who want to jump on to get in.
COMICS BEAT: Last year we played the Knowhere stage and this year in Hall H you mentioned locations like HalfWorld and Wakanda. Were the locations choices made strictly for story reasons?
Mat Kraemer: So basically the story of the game is Thanos has brought together a new Masters of Evil and he’s crushed a Cosmic Cube to give to the other villains you’ll face in the game. Now when you’re playing the game and you defeat a boss you’ll get a little chunk of Cosmic Cube. You’re rebuilding and repairing the cube to finally be able to battle Thanos one on one, and it’s super cool because when you finally build the thing to get to the final battle with three other people to fight him the stage is completely different. The Fight, the flow of the game is different than anything else that you’ve played before leading up to it.
COMICS BEAT: You’re doing some radical things in terms of enemies and design here, can you tell us a bit more?
Mat Kraemer: We have a dynamic difficulty system. So every time you play every match everything’s different like the location of where things are, what factions you’re battling against. You know you have the Kree, Hydra, Ultron centuries and those are just the minions. We have seven bosses that can randomly appear and some of those bosses are really difficult behaviourally. We have Venom, not flying around but he’s like sinking in the ground and popping up. I mean he’s he’s going to scare some people because he’s just like full on in your face and he’s got all this symbiote stuff coming out that he’s thrown at you which you’ll feel like it hits you right in the face through the Rift. Then you got other heavy hitters like Magneto in there and Dormammu. And so with the difficulty r ramping you could even get it with his two bosses at once. Which you really have to work as a team to survive.
COMICS BEAT: One thing I loved about the announcements today was how much X-Men character you’re bringing into the game. Was that a Sanzaru/Oculus decision or Marvel’s?
Mat Kraemer: It was a group thing across Oculus and marvel and Sanzaru. They are the characters we really like and they’re the ones I want to play as. You only have one first shot to do Marvel Heroes justice in VR and we might as well try to get the best ones that we can get.
Another thing I want to speak to is the characters in general. Each of them is completely built from the ground up. It’s not like you started building the game and were like oh these are the gear characters and these are the power characters and oh we’re going to do another character and they’re just like the other hero. They’re all unique, they have unique abilities and unique traits.
We were working really close with Marvel to make sure that they feel like what you would expect them to feel like in VR. And it’s great to see people’s reaction, especially to Spider-Man.
He’s probably one of the most unique characters in the game because he’s very tactful character. He’s not always all-out offensive. There’s a lot of grabbing things in the environment and using them wrapping up enemies and smashing him into other enemies. And he plays… I mean you could make an entire VR game just based on that single character.
COMICS BEAT: How long is the game?
Mat Kraemer: Like 5 to 6 hours of play time, maybe even a little more to get to Thanos for the first time and then it also depends who you’re playing with. It may take you a little bit longer to kill all the bosses and get all those shards. So it really varies on playstyle. The cool thing is it’s not really the end of the game.
So every single one of the 18 characters has four personal objectives. Those personal objectives have like 4 layers deep and if you finish those objectives you are awarded a cosmic bone. Now that cosmic bone, you can bring back to your ops. A base of operations which is kind of like the social space. You remember last year you saw Lockjaw move around that space branded as Alpha Flight station. We don’t have any Alpha Flight characters in the game so no Sasquatch or Puck yet. So when you give the bone to Lockjaw he drops crates which contain things like different skins for the characters.
They aren’t just color swaps, they’re substantial. I really want you to feel good about what you just earned so one example is our Old Man Logan skin. Each of the skins is a new rig on new models so they interact fluidly with the game. We wanted to pick unique ones as well. so like Star-Lord everyone knows the movie costume but not as many know the Annihilation Star-Lord outfit.
COMICS BEAT: It sounds like the game is really shaping up to be a complete package at launch. That’s rare for games these days.
Mat Kraemer: Oh yeah totally, I mean the retail price of the game is $39.99 so if you have a Rift already it’s an add with a lot of value. Between the stuff in the game’s story and endgame, it’s deep and even some stuff we call Legendary Hero Items. Those you can earn things like Ant-Man’s helmet in the game, even though we don’t have the playable character you can still pick up and interact with his gear in VR.
COMICS BEAT: So it’s almost like a Marvel museum?
Mat Kraemer: Exactly
COMICS BEAT: Now that you’ve done the heroes is there any chance of a Marvel Villains United VR?
Mat Kraemer: You never know. I love the villains and their such iconic characters like Venom, and Magneto, and Ronan The Accuser.
COMICS BEAT: One thing I’ve noticed about the lineup is that while most games boast having the entire GOTG lineup or Avengers lineup, Powers VR took a more mix-and-match direction. What was the reason for that decision?
Mat Kraemer: We picked our lineup for game diversity. You know, we don’t want to have tons of melee characters, we don’t want to have tons of projectile characters, that there’s an unbalance. We want to make sure that there’s a character for everybody because we know everyone has a different way to play the game.
COMICS BEAT: I know since I tried the demo at SDCC last year, and was never invited to try it again after! I’ve been thinking about this game for an entire year now so I’m glad it’s finally here. If you want the experience of cosplaying Rocket Raccoon with a jetpack but no fur mess on your couch, then make the leap into VR when Marvel Powers United VR launches on Oculus Rift, July 26, 2018. Learn more about the game on its website.
“Oh, you’re going to Comic Con? That must be nice.”
I heard that from several locals in San Diego before the con was upon us – people lamenting that even though the event was in their own backyard, they couldn’t attend the convention proper. But I also learned that a lot of people go downtown anyway, mostly for the spectacle of it all, but also to take part in whatever offsite activities are open to the public.
So I decided to spend a full day (and a little more) outside of the convention center walls, documenting my experience with offsite activations. A word of caution: I was able to compress a full 4 days worth of activations into only 1 day by skipping lines at press previews. Most of these would require at least an hour in line, upwards of 2-3 hours for the more popular ones, so if you try this in the future, I wouldn’t try to do more than a few each day. But if you’ve got all weekend and lack a badge, it’s all pretty do-able.
9 am: I start the day bright and early with a visit to The Good Place. This particular activation seemed to have pretty intense lines – Twitter users reporting a wait of about 2 hours. I’ve got a more in-depth write up and photo essay of this experience here. It was one of the more immersive experiences I tried (but I’ve got to agree with the comments that NBC totally missed out by not including some frozen yogurt).
11 am: Next I head across downtown to make it to the Mr. Mercedes off site experience. This one looked a lot better in terms of lines – it seemed like you could get in in less than an hour. I’ve never actually seen this show or read the trilogy it’s based on, so a lot of the really in depth set design was lost on me, but this activation had a lot going on and it was fairly generous in terms of what it had to offer, particularly given the shorter lines. Read about it here.
1 pm: Next up was The Experience, which is an offsite event hosting several smaller activations, located near Petco Park. Honestly, this whole thing was a bit of a miss for me. There were lots of small things to see, but nothing that compared to the more elaborate off site experiences or felt worth waiting in line for. Here I managed to check out two specific activations: Ghostbusters and Cloak & Dagger. Ghostbusters featured a demo AR game that seems modeled on Pokemon Go. Instead of Pokemon, as you might guess, you catch ghosts. Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger was a more hands-on experience. Participants were strapped in to harnesses and then pulled apart to look as though they were flying through the air. I… did not do that.
3 pm: Next up was an “invite only” experience in the Hard Rock, so I guess this doesn’t count as an open-to-all experience, though it didn’t seem to require a badge. We had to be escorted up to the activation as the Hard Rock has some pretty intense security. Once we got to the top floor we were treated to a view of what a penthouse would look like if Deadpool stayed in it. I think this could have been a more successful experience if it was open to everyone and placed in a less exclusive hotel; it felt a bit wasted on the few reporters mulling through it. More photos and details here.
6 pm: I ended this day on a great note with this activation from Taco Bell celebrating the 25th anniversary of Demolition Man. Lines for this also seemed to run upwards of 2-3 hours at peak times, but you were rewarded with a pretty great meal and a relaxing dining experience, so it seemed like people were enjoying themselves. We took a ridiculous amount of photos of the food and setup here.
THE NEXT DAY
I couldn’t fit everything into one day, so I also hit up the Purge City activation the next day. This activation *looked* deceptively easy to get into, but actually had hours worth of people waiting around the corner near the stadium. Fortunately people got a fair amount in exchange for that wait. When you walk in you were given $20 in “Purge dollars” to spend on items – imagine going to Party City before Halloween except it’s about, you know, stocking up to commit and survive horrible crimes? Like that. The event had t-shirts, candles, and even stain removers to spend your hard earned Purge dollars on. I bought a Happy First Purge Together Anniversary card, among other things, with my Purge dollars.
Overall, SDCC continues to bring a strong activation game each year. I found myself enjoying the immersive experiences the most and liking the VR ones I tried the least – are they ever not glitchy? – but if you’ve got time, patience, and don’t have a badge, these kind of off-site events are a great way to experience the con.
Entertainment writer and editor for The Beat.
Additional interests include food, travel, food, and travel.
This September, Sony PlayStation and Insomniac Games will let fans swing through New York in Marvel’s first true console blockbuster game since the PlayStation 2 era. At SDCC, fans finally got a bigger glimpse into Marvel’s Spider-Man story. A narrative built by a team of writers which include comic veteran Christos Gage. At the lead of those scribes, Jon Pacquette from Insomniac Games who took part in the SDCC Hall H panel that made all our Spider dreams come true.
We got to speak with Jon shortly after Marvel Games Hall H presentation on what the crowd saw and what he’d have hoped the legendary Steve Ditko would have said about this new game’s story and experience.
COMICS BEAT: First of all I have to say congrats to the Marvel team and Insomniac for absolutely nailing the Hall H presentation. I was already excited for this game more than any Marvel game in the past 10 years but now I wish we could just skip August altogether.
So let’s start with the story trailer reveal. The trailer shown made it seem as though Norman Osborn was the main villain of the game or at least more so than Mister Negative. Was that the plan all along to red herring the audience?
Jon Pacquette: So one of the big things that we revealed was silver sable. And when we were designing the story we knew we needed to have sort of an antagonistic force in the city. And so we settled on her character and Sable International as that antagonistic force. It’s somebody that has the same mission as Spiderman, she’s there to do the same thing that Spiderman is doing which is they keep the city safe. But, naturally, those two are going to be at odds. Spider-Man is labeled the masked menace by Norman Osborn who’s in that position of power as Mayor.
CB: So have we seen the character we didn’t see at the end of the E3 footage?
Pacquette: [laughs] I’ll let you figure it out.
Mister Negative and the inner demons are still the evil force. Osborn as Mayor brings in Silver Sable to clamp down on them because he doesn’t trust Spider-Man. So we haven’t revealed just what direction Norman Osborn will take in the game, it’s something we’re guarding closely.
CB: So he’s taking the J. Jonah Jameson role.
So what was it like for you and the team to work with a seasoned comic book writer like Christos Gage?
Pacquette: It’s great. It’s great because nobody knows the Marvel universe better than Christos Gage. I’ll tell you that right now. You know, any kind of idea that we had he would he would say “Oh yeah. Back on this run in 82…” He’s really encyclopedic and it’s not just the facts that he knows about. He knows the DNA of the characters. Whenever we would have a scene that might pull a character in a different new fresh direction he would say “that’s totally cool but just keep in mind that the fans like this character because of X Y and Z. Right.” So he was an invaluable member of the team.
CB: Were you yourself a comic book fan?
Pacquette: Oh yeah! Big fan, never a writer of them though. Back when I was a kid, I had subscriptions to Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man and read them voraciously.
CB: What was it like for you as a fan to get this call about doing a Spider-Man game?
Pacquette: Dream come true! We were finishing up Sunset Overdrive and there were rumors in the hallways that we might be able to work with Marvel. People were like which character should we do? should we do these characters? In my head, I’m like oh my God if we do Spider-Man I’m going to freak out because that is literally a dream come true.
When I was in film school the Raimi movies came out and I was like that is like the exact story I would want to write as a Spider-Man movie. Now here I am getting to write a Spider-Man game which is way longer than a movie, hopefully by the end on par or better.
CB: Was there a particular challenge going from a fan of, to writing the character?
Pacquette: There was definitely a transition like first I had to get over the nerves. Right. I’m sitting there at home and I’m typing my first scene, which is actually like an exploratory scene. And I type “Spider-Man” and the realization that this isn’t fan fiction, this could be real stuff in this universe I’ve loved since I was a kid hit and I felt the weight of it.
When we met Bill Rosemann and talked about how many fans there are and how important it is to get the character right, you have a little bit of paralysis there you know. It’s about write stuff, write stuff, write stuff, throw it out if it doesn’t work. You get there almost by brute force but by the end, you’ve hopefully created something people say is “cool cause it’s like this character but not totally.” So yeah it was a challenge and thankfully games take a long time to make.
CB: When it comes to making games, story sometimes falls in priority, even for studios with the best intentions, to gameplay mechanics or something else visually. When it comes to the white spider suit design was the visual in place before or was it built out of the story before you ever saw it?
Pacquette: It happened at the same time really. And the reason is mostly Bill Rosemann. He was like you know you can have whatever suit you want but there’s just got to be a natural story reason. There’s got to be a reason why it’s a white spider and a story behind that. A reason why he creates that specific suit and I think people are going to be really hooked by that arc.
CB: You get one shot at a first impression with a character that has over 1000 issues of content. How do you boil down which characters to use and fit without overstuffing the barrel?
Pacquette: We’ve we’ve had many characters in the story that are no longer in the story. Like I mentioned in the panel we do a lot of rewriting a lot of stuff. I mean all of us on the team are in love with the Spider-Man universe and in love with all characters and we want to use them as much as we can but in the ways that tell the best story.
So yeah I mean that was definitely one of the more challenging parts because at some point you reach saturation. You don’t want to have too many characters in the story you just can’t really grok what is happening in the story. So you know eventually. We got to the point where we’re like OK that’s enough, we can’t really support more characters in the story.
CB: Insomniac has said there will be additional story DLC. Is there a chance we’ll see those characters removed from the script in any of that DLC?
Pacquette: You might. Currently, we have three DLC projects planned.
CB: Most games now want these massive worlds or sort of put too many locations that story can’t support. How important was it for Insomniac to put a central focus on New York and keep the audience there?
Pacquette: What does it mean to embody the character of Peter Parker when you’re playing a game? It’s all about the play of your Spider-Man fantasy. So if I want to be Spider-Man right, I also want to be Peter Parker and I want to live in New York City. Those two things kind of go together. So we didn’t really talk much beyond that because we wanted to get New York City right.
Plus it’s really fun to swing through tall buildings.
CB: Was there a moment in this process where you said you were on the right track with this game?
Pacquette: Yeah I’ll give you a little anecdote. You know, we do usability tests all the time, we bring in people to play the game and make sure that our messaging is working, make sure that people know where to go, what to do. You know, they don’t get stuck in a place that’s too hard or whatever. All games do that. But we also asked story questions like “Were you ever confused at all?” We’ve done these useability test throughout the last several months and the scores kept getting higher and higher, I think as the cutscenes got more polished. And I think story was one of those areas people are really in love with, which for me I’m like “Yes!”
There’s a moment, you know, we all have that moment where we’re like — I have no idea what I’m doing–. It’s a syndrome. It’s like oh my God nobody knows if this is going to work. And I went out to dinner with the God of War guys after they shipped and I’m like you guys made a great game, tell me all your secrets. They were like, “We didn’t know it was going to work, about three or four months before and we still had no idea.” So I think it’s common with everybody.
CB: Those are always great stories to hear from developers. Lastly, once the game is in people’s hands and we’re all loving it; what would you have liked to hear from someone like the late great Steve Ditko about this game if you could have shown this to him?
Pacquette: “It makes me feel like Spider-Man.”
I think it’s the highest compliment especially coming from somebody like Steve Ditko. That’s what we’re really trying to do. Like I said, it goes back to that fantasy think we all as kids dream about. Putting on our web shooters and you know putting on that spider and swinging through the skies. That’s what video games let you do.
I’m looking forward to having people play this and experience something good, something exciting, something action-oriented, maybe a little sad at times. That’s what being Peter Parker is all about.
COMICS BEAT: Thank you to Insomniac and Marvel Games. It’s insane that the game teased three E3’s ago and headlined Sony’s presentation on two of them, is finally nearly here. PlayStation’s exclusive Spidey game just carved out a new milestone as the only game to headline a presentation in SDCC’s illustrious Hall H. A place usually reserved for the Jason Momoa’s and Robert Downey Jr’s of the world.
Marvel’s Spider-Man will swing into retail exclusively for the PlayStation 4 on September 7, 2018.
The Aquabats have been a part of San Diego Comic-Con’s DNA for a long time. Orange County’s ska band of superheroes have been fans showing up to fan out with the rest of us, musicians entertaining jr cadets at the House of Blues, even without a Super Show to panel about. It does sting a bit to not see the boys on SDCC’s official schedule but in true Aquabat resilience, the band put on a show for hundreds of fans at San Diego’s House of Blues this past Saturday. Fans, young and old, came out to do a special celebratory photo op with the band but they were also teased with a video that counted down to a special announcement coming on July 31st.
We caught up with Crash McLarson, Jimmy The Robot, Ricky Fitness, and The MC Bat Commander to talk about all things Comic-Con and what next year’s special anniversary holds for fans of The Aquabats.
COMICSBEAT: 25 years of The Aquabats is coming up. How does that feel to you guys?
BAT COMMANDER: Woo! Soo weird. Great!
CRASH McLARSON: We’re just starting to feel it out now. Playing this show [SDCC] definitely puts it in focus.
COMICSBEAT: I’ve been a fan of this band since I was a teen, but how long I can dance then compared to now definitely isn’t the same, yet you guys have put out the same over-caffeinated energy each show for two decades. What’s the secret to keeping The Aquabat physique running for 25 years?
BAT COMMANDER: Vegetables! But to tell a little more serious answer; the fact that we’ve been able to do other things than write music and tour have helped us stay together. A lot of our friends’ bands go out on tour and they’re just being a punk band and I’ll tell you… touring is a crucible and it definitely can crush you.
COMICS BEAT: Doing what you guys do the Aquabat way you’re almost professional wrestlers.
BAT COMMANDER: Kinda! The fact that we make it more fun when we do play but we don’t play all the time makes it special.
RICKY FITNESS: It’s a lot of work and a lot of strain being in a touring band even without all the costumes and gear.
BAT COMMANDER: That’s not a knock on any bands it’s just I think for us and our personalities. It would have probably broken us a lot because you know you’re on a road for six weeks and you start like wanting to kill each other. I totally get it and the whole reason we started the band is because we were friends, we were all friends, and we wanted to like have fun goofing around and having a laugh, you know. So if at the end of the day, you can’t do that, then something’s wrong.
COMICS BEAT: You guys have lost some of the squad along the way.
RICKY FITNESS: At the end of the day it’s just fun, we’re just having a lot of having fun with each other onstage. Yeah and the guys in the band that have left and gone on to do other things, we still keep in touch and they come back and play shows when… you know when it makes sense and they’re available…Catboy, Chainsaw, and Baron Von Tito.
COMICS BEAT: It’s always good to have you guys in town during SDCC. But when will The Aquabats make an official in-show return to Comic-Con?
BAT COMMANDER: Hopefully next year. We hope.
CRASH: I mean we’re always part of it. We just haven’t done anything official there recently.
COMICS BEAT: We miss The Aquabats panel.
CRASH: Panels are always fun, but it’s fun like when you have like something to talk about. You need something to talk about or we just start rambling.
BAT COMMANDER: Then we fall out of a chair.
COMICS BEAT: You don’t need to promote something to do a panel. Just call it “The Aquabats Hour of Power”.
BAT COMMANDER: You get one of those big oil drums and put a fire in it and just gather around to sing songs.
JIMMY THE ROBOT: If you like half cooked jokes and hot dogs…this is the panel for you!
BAT COMMANDER: What if we just had a dance party?
JIMMY THE ROBOT: That’s a lot of dancing.
BAT COMMANDER: Not us! We’ll just oversee it.
CRASH: *golf claps* Good moves! Well done!
COMICS BEAT: You could get people to come. You already had a ton of people come as Aquabats themselves to get a group photo with you. What was that like?
RICKY FITNESS: Amazing!
CRASH: Especially when you see the little kids in full legit gear.
BAT COMMANDER: Tugs at the heartstrings a little bit when you see little kids and they’re like “commander!” and they give you little drawings they drew of you. Or when they’re like “Oh I like Ricky!”
RICKY FITNESS: “Commander’s my favorite! But, I still want a picture with you.” Awesome.
BAT COMMANDER: Robot is a big favorite with the kids. As most robots are.
JIMMY THE ROBOT: It’s really cool and it’s cool to see that a lot of the people there were people who have been coming to our shows for a long time and now bring their kids.
COMICS BEAT: You know 25 years is a legacy and I wish someone would document the adventures of The Aquabats maybe we could call it The Aquabats Super Show! Do you know where we can find one of those in the near future?
CRASH McLARSON: Yeah for sure. Like it was like a fun time filming [The Aquabats Super Show!]. It was a ton of work. And it…kind of hurt, like it’s painful making them because we did all our own stunts and stuff. But we didn’t really know what we were doing.
RICKY FITNESS: We didn’t realize that you’re not really supposed to get hit when someone throws a punch. I was like umm I don’t know how much longer I can do this, guys.
BAT COMMANDER: Hit me again! Hit me again!
CRASH McLARSON: But yeah we would love to do some more or do another season for sure. We’re kind of, sort of, planning it out in the back of our minds.
BAT COMMANDER: So we’re putting it into the universe. I mean, it was a dream come true. You know like it was a show we always wanted to do. We did a couple little test pilots along the way and just never had the opportunity to do it. But through. You know the success of Yo Gabba Gabba it opened the door for us to do the show how we always envisioned it. The shows we watch when we were kids like SHAZAM or the driving around in a motorhome righting wrongs and meeting up with Bigfoot. You know like when Six-Million Dollar Man was just like ridiculous, live action super low budget shot in the same park every episode. That was kind of by design. We wanted the Aquabats to feel like that but for a whole new generation. Something that inspires you to use imagination, but there’s still CGI tentacles and furry costumes and stuff.
COMICS BEAT: The Aquabats Super Show really felt like the Batman 66′ of this generation. Was Super Show and maybe the Aquabats, in general, your take on the lighter parts of the genre?
BAT COMMANDER: At the time we started The Aquabats, if you would have said there was going to be an X-Men movie or an Avengers movie we would have laughed and said like “yeah right”. For a long time, it seemed hard for audiences to accept the sillier parts of superheroes. But then superheroes have gone through this arc now where the superhero movies are hilarious because “duh!” superheroes are ridiculous, but at the same time they’re cool. There’s a way you can love the superheroes and comic books, but at the same time acknowledge it’s totally ridiculous. Obviously, Marvel’s nailing it with Guardians of the Galaxy and the new Ant-Man movie is soo funny.
COMICS BEAT: Finally before I let you guys get off on the next big Aquabat adventure, you dropped a new teaser for an announcement coming up on July 31st. Why do an announcement for an announcement?
BAT COMMANDER: We were supposed to have the actual announcement ready but some things didn’t line up exactly when we thought they would but we also didn’t want to not do something special for Comic-Con weekend. So we’re officially announcing the announcement is coming… 9 days. (July 31st) When it does come it’ll be super.
COMICS BEAT: Thank you guys! This has been a privilege for me. I know fans can go to your YouTube channel to check out the old episodes of The Aquabats Super Show but I’m excited that we could potentially get more new Super Show. Check out the Aquabats at their website and on tour fighting some giant beaver moth creature near you… or they might just play a show, depends on the day of the week.
Legends of Tomorrow is about to enter its fourth season, as the team continues to protect time and space against a myriad of dangers. The cast and crew of the show stopped by Comic-Con to answer some questions about season four and the new character that will be joining the team. Legends returns to The CW on October 22nd.
What’s new for you on the show next season?
“I play a new character next season, so that’s very exciting. Her name is Charlie and she is a magical fugitive who has basically come through when history and time broke and she slipped through into this dimension. So she is a rebel without a cause, out for herself, punking everyone. She’s a much more tough, edgy, punk rock kid who looks like Amaya. So the whole team has to respond to that and you can see how they win her over. Why is she here, what does she want? And once she realizes the power she possibly has over the team what’s she going to do with that? That’s her journey.”
Will the team have a hard time separating the new character from Amaya?
“Definitely. And I think she’ll probably use that to her advantage. She has magical powers which are really really cool powers. They also need her in order to figure out how to get rid of these other magical entities. So it’s a battle between: can we use her enough to trust her or is she going to use us?”
Will there be any more JSA ties?
“I hope so! I’d love to have Amaya come back again. Who knows, maybe they could meet. And also to check in with the rest of the JSA members. I think there might be someone coming in that you might recognize, which will be really exciting. I always want the JSA to come back. They’re great.”
When did you find out that you were going to be playing a new character?
“I think it was a couple episodes before the finale. We were just talking about how it felt like Amaya needed to go home. It was time. She had been through so much and it was all because of the fact that she wasn’t returning home. We wanted to do her right and let her go, so we took her home. But they were like ‘You’re not going anywhere!’ So I had no idea over the break what was coming up and they presented this character to me. And I was like ‘She sounds amazing’. She’s the opposite. She’s cheeky, she’s playful, she’s wild. She doesn’t care about doing bad, she just wants to have a good time. And she is definitely a prankster and a jokester. So I think it’s going to be really fun.”
How will Nate react to the new character?
“I’m curious! We haven’t gotten there yet, but I think it’s going to be really hard for him because she looks like the person that he’s mourning. And I wonder if she’s going to use that to her advantage and play with that. I don’t know. It depends why she’s here and what her ulterior motive is. And whether they can win her over before she gets too brave to start messing things up. But it will be really interesting watching her with Nate and whether she’s still attracted to him. Maybe she’ll still play with him, who knows?”
What is Ray’s emotional journey right now?
“Ray is happy they defeated Mallus but conflicted about his decision to give Nora Darhk the time stone. There are some things that happen early on in the season that lead him to question whether that was really a good idea and if his gamble on Nora turning into a good person is going to pay off or not. He’s a little worried about that.”
Would you agree that Ray’s personality shifted a bit around season two?
“I think they leaned into what I was doing and they wrote more towards that aspect. I guess maybe they had a need to make somebody be that to contrast with the other darker sides of characters that we had. Ray on Arrow was envisioned to be one way and I swam upstream because I wanted to make him not so much a Tony Stark. To have him be a kinder presence. So that naturally just fed into the comedic abilities of Ray and the comedy gold that could be mined out of a goody two shoes character, a Boy Scout character. And that worked. The comedy of that worked so they just kept building and morphing Ray into this version. Which I think is great because it’s true to a lot of my growing up and it’s a character that maybe isn’t represented enough, the kind of nerdy Boy Scout kid who still wants to be cool and part of the team.”
What is Ray’s importance on the show?
“I think the science aspect is something that I hear from a lot of fans, whether it be kids or parents, who like the fact that Ray is so geeked out about science and talking about science. And having that positive role model for somebody who is intelligent; a physicist is a cool role model.”
What is Sara’s emotional journey right now?
“I think for Sara, she really wants to try to build a life and some normalcy and feel like a real person. Of course that’s not an easy thing to do. So I think she’s going to struggle a lot between her responsibilities as the captain and having a relationship and trying to be a normal person.”
How will Constantine’s presence challenge you as the team leader?
“I think Constantine is kind of like the devil on Sara’s shoulder. She’s got this new hold on life. We did good. We saved the world. I’ve got a girlfriend. Maybe my life’s not so bad. Maybe I can let people in. Maybe I can love people. And then you have Constantine who’s like: I know who you really are, you’re just like me. I see him putting in jeopardy the loose hold that she has on this new life. I think he’s going to make it harder.”
What’s coming up for Mick in the new season?
“Well he’s about to encounter a new thing called Constantine. The dynamic between Rory and Constantine is just hysterical. It’s wonderful actually. I’ve had the opportunity to read a few scripts ahead of time and the scenes are beautifully written and hysterical. Rory has now come to the conclusion that this is his family. These are people that he protects. Even though he doesn’t verbally articulate it, they all know that Mick has their back now. The hostility or animosity between him and Constantine is something I want to keep going forward with.”
Are there any big changes to the character?
“Mick is firmly established. We don’t have to mess with Mick Rory now, we know what he is. There’s not a whole lot of tinkering we need to do with him. Essentially what you see with him is what you have. But there are parts of him that we haven’t yet seen and they’ll be drawn out over this year and next year.”
How will Mick Rory react to the new challenges?
“For Mick it’s kind of like another day at the office. It’s like, all right what are we doing now? He’s kind of resigned to the fact that things are just always going to be crazy. After what happened last season with Beebo, we’re up for anything. For him it’s like what do I need to roast and where is it?”
How does the show’s tone affect your experience?
“That’s what I love about the show. It can go so far in the extreme in terms of comedy, but then it has an emotional core to it as well. That range, which as an actor you get to play…it’s great.”
How does it feel to be back after the cancellation of Constantine?
“It’s great, man. It’s been four years since the show was cancelled and I’ve gotten to go off and do other things as an actor and satiate some of my other wants and needs as an artist. And now I get to dye my hair blonde every week and run around in a trenchcoat. It’s great. And also exploring the character in this dynamic with all these different characters, which is new from all that I’ve discovered from all the comic books. These are new relationships for me in terms of how to approach them.”
How different will Nora’s world be now that she’s free from her possession?
“I know! Who is she? Nora needs to find out who she is without her father and without Mallus guiding her. She was possessed by him from the age of thirteen. From thirteen into her thirties, she fought him and fought him and finally he said ‘I’ll help you bring your father back’ and she gave in to him. So, you know, I don’t think she’s had any of the normal experiences that we take for granted. Is she going to go out into the world and get a job? How is she going to interact with everybody? What part of her is going to win out, the dark or the light? I think she’s really going to struggle with that and we’ll get to find out more.”
What can you tell us about the new season?
“It’s going to be really exciting. We have a HUGE season premiere. It’s pretty enormous, maybe the biggest premiere to date. We have about 150 extras. We went for it. I pulled my groin in the first episode.”
Will there be a theme in the new season?
“We are never consistent, which is the best thing to have in tv. We’re not married to anything: cast, storylines…we can do whatever we want. We have no rules. We could come back and literally do anything. And we can because we are legends. We don’t have any blueprint and that’s so freeing when you’re writing, when you’re acting. We don’t know who’s going to get paired up in one episode. It’s like ‘Oh, I never thought the two of them would work together’ and it just clicks. And then we can just go down that road. That’s the beauty of the show. We’re not locked into anything or anywhere. That leaves us with a long possible run.”
What is the tone of the show moving forward?
“Obviously with the arrival of Constantine’s character we’re kind of changing our genre up, going from just fixing history to dealing with the world of these magical creatures. Our show is a comedy in my mind and to offset that lighter tone we wanted to get into some dark stories. I’m a big fan of horror. And mashing with comedy…there’s a reason that people laugh when they get scared.”
Any guest appearances from other shows?
“We kind of do our own thing and the fact that we’re not participating in the crossover this year I think is an indication that we sort of now exist on our own separate tonal universe. I think one world is plenty for the legends.”
What will you be exploring?
“The show becomes more outrageous, more absurd, more preposterous. Our finale was pretty much an explosion of all those things. In order to counterbalance that we’re trying to make a lot of the themes at the heart of the show much more real. We’ve played arch villains, we’ve played the Legion of Doom, we’ve played Vandal Savage. Now we’re kind of exploring the evil of just humans. And we’re looking to fracture the team a little bit. Because when we fixed history it was clear what you do — you put it back the way it was. And then we got in that moral grey zone of how do you fix the parts of history that were broken to begin with? This season, it’s the morality of these ‘monsters’ …you meet a minotaur on the street and it’s like ‘It’s a minotaur, we’ve got to kill him’. What Legends does in everything it does is slightly off center and when we do a minotaur episode it’ll be ‘What’s his story? What makes him tick?’ And Constantine’s like ‘Throw him to hell!’ Our legends are big hearted people and tv’s good in ensemble when you’ve got a debate every episode. You don’t want the guys ever to agree and just say ‘Do X’.”
What’s in store for Zari this season?
“Zari has become more of a part of the fabric of the team. Through the time loop episode she has literally lived with them hundreds of times, so they have become her family. So it’s like a ride or die situation for her now. But she’s still grappling with the future that she comes from and losing her family and losing her brother. And seeing the worst version of a very xenophobic and intolerant future. It’s going to be interesting with the magical fugitives that come in. I think for her it’s going to parallel the metas that she saw being persecuted for being different in the future. I think she’s going to butt heads with Constantine quite a bit, who just wants to send them to hell, where Zari’s like ‘Hold on’. We’re going to see her grappling with that and see other sides of her because she’s not as guarded. She’s still sarcastic, she’s still dry. But the guard’s come down, at least in front of the legends.”
Where does Ava go this season?
“Ava’s in love. It’s kind of amazing that they’ve taken these two really strong women and they’re trying to make them play house. I don’t think it’s easy in any relationship to have two people who are working hard and then trying to build a domestic life and try to find time for each other with their full time jobs. We’re doing that. You’re going to also see a softer side of both Sara and Ava just being home and being together and not running stuff and not having everything under control and not having it put together all the time. It will be a nice shift from bossing people around all the time.”
Louie is a freelance writer, editor, and desert dweller. He manages TimeIsBroken.com where he writes about comics, meditation and football. When he’s not reading Green Lantern, he is likely to be found crying over the Cleveland Browns.