By Beat Staff

Winner: The Harvey Awards – an improved venue, visually, a worthy lineup of Hall of Famers, heartfelt speeches by Fred Buell, Karen Berger, Vivek Tiwary and Neil Gaiman, Nadia Shamas and more, an MC who struck the right tone, and a brisk pace made this the best ceremony since the awards format changed. The audio in the cavernous Crystal Palace is still hard to control but otherwise this was a very pleasant evening to celebrate comics. (HM)

Loser: Whoever decided to give all the small comics publishers like Vault, Rocketship and Rebellion truly wretched booth placement. (HM)

Winner: Panel staff. I felt like this year the people running the lines, especially at the big panels, were on top of keeping the info and people flowing. (DD)

Loser: the lounges. The press room in the new wing had barely any outlets and no bathroom nearby, and while the back corner of the river pavilion had bathrooms and plenty of power, by midday no one was checking pro or press badges. There were tired con goers squatting in every corner, most likely because their community lounge was overrun and crowded. (DD)

Winner: Nikki Liberatore, the press liaison for NYCC, who really does go above and beyond with the many requests she gets. (HM)

Winner: Abrams Books. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s She Eats the Night was in full display at the Abrams booth, a book that I saw many people discussing and reading at the show floor. Liu had an in-depth author spotlight panel where she pulled the curtain back on her process which was intimate, funny, and profound. Abrams then had its own panel showcasing the future of its graphic novel lines. Mariko Tamaki and John Jennings, for instance, spoke about the lines they’re overseeing and it looks like we’re in line for some important and transformative queer and black fiction and non-fiction books in the near future. (RS)

Loser: Big name comics publishers missing in action. This year’s convention finally felt like a return to normalcy, somewhat. Marvel came back after its absence in last year’s con and it helped give the show that epic feel pre-Covid editions had when walking around and taking the space in. Unfortunately, DC’s absence muted the comeback a bit, as did no-shows like Dark Horse, Boom, and Image and their giant booths. This did give smaller publishers more time in the spotlight, but it kept the con from reaching those pre-Covid highs that so made the experience so special and unique. (RS)

Winner: One Piece takes over Times Square. The massive, all-powerful presence that is One Piece celebrated its long run with new movie promos and giant ship and character inflatables at the con. But what really took the cake was their Saturday night takeover of Times Square’s giant screens to further promote the new movie, subtitled “Red.” It’s quite something to see hundreds and hundreds of people huddled in one of the busiest places on Earth looking at manga and anime characters flashing in the brightest spot in the city. It’s a testament to the power of anime and how far ahead of the game they are. (RS)

Loser: AEW. When AEW was starting up and trying to drive the brand hard a few years back, they took to NYCC with aggression to make a statement. Big advertising billboards went up at Times Square and panels and signings were plentiful. They were even featured in the con’s print book guides. Last year they had a panel which featured Tony Schiavone, Adam Cole, Darby Allin, Thunder Rosa, and Orange Cassidy. This year? Nothing. Jungle Boy and Britt Baker were signing, along with Danhausen, but their presence was severely diminished. This might be a sign of trouble in paradise given the recent controversies surrounding CM Punk’s press conference and his altercation with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega along with rumors of Khan losing control of his backstage and booking struggles (which he’s responsible for). Here’s hoping the ship steers towards calmer waters come next con. (RS)

Winner: Star Trek Universe panel reveals. At this point, Paramount+ has the Trek teases down to a science, with the roster of five ongoing shows (Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds) rotating from con to con. Especially exciting is the revelation that Amanda Plummer will join Picard season 3, making her the (possible) final villain for Picard’s crew, just as her father Christopher Plummer played the final villain for Kirk’s crew in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Let’s hope the third season of Picard has some Shakespeare quotations (preferably in the original Klingon). And I haven’t even mentioned the return of (now Admiral) Jellico (Ronny Cox) on Prodigy. Plus, Paramount has figured out what girls want: girls want ship! Our first glimpse of the Shrike and USS Enterprise-F just has me clamoring for more. And these in addition to the USS Titan-A…! (AJK)

Winner: Moon Knight fans. While there wasn’t any specific news, Oscar Isaac confirmed that we can expect to see more of “the system that is Moon Knight” in future installments of the MCU. While it isn’t clear whether that means a second season of his solo series, or an appearance on another show or movie, the six episodes of Moon Knight have only scratched the surface of the hero. After he didn’t appear in this year’s Werewolf by Night special, it’s nice to know he will be back in some form or another – especially since the character’s potential has barely been tapped. Plus: Isaac called Pedro Pascal a “slut.” Now that’s entertainment! (AJK)

Loser: Masking up. It was hard to tell if there was a mask policy in place or simply just a suggestion. When going into the convention center, there would be people passing out masks, but with no sense of obligation or requirement. As a result, the Javits Center was overflowing with people and only about 25% of them were wearing masks. On busy days like Thursday and Saturday, it was rare to see people masked up and even rarer to see any of the staff enforce their mandate. (TL)

Loser: Super Mario Bros. trailer. The the filmmakers of The Super Mario Bros Movie. had their work cut out for them to win audiences over when they debuted the first trailer at NYCC, in particular the controversial casting of actor Chris Pratt as the titular plumber. And while the animation and first half of the trailer was praised, fans were not impressed with the few seconds of dialogue of Pratt’s performance. In fact, it became something of a internet gag all weekend. Moreover, prolific voice actress Tara Strong criticized on social media the decision not  to cast original Mario voice actor Charles Martinet in the iconic role. (TD)  

Winner: Velma Dinkley. The brainiac member of the Scooby Gang is having a bit of a moment right now with the character openly depicted for the first time as a lesbian in a recent Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo Halloween movie. It came at the perfect time as Mindy Kaling was at NYCC to promote her upcoming adult animated Velma series on HBO Max which has already been renewed for a second season. Moreover, I know the character is a popular cosplay but I definitely felt there were lot more people dressed as Velma this year than ever before at NYCC. (TD) 

Winner: Animation in general. Avatar: The Last Airbender (through the “Braving the Elements” podcast), The Owl House, The Dragon Prince, Chainsaw Man and Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War. Legions of fans showed up for Braving the Elements, and witnessing the sheer amount of love fans have for these franchises is incredible. It was bittersweet to see jaw-dropping Ida cosplays in the midst of The Owl House’s first and last NYCC panel. As for The Dragon Prince, the show is coming back in full force for a highly-anticipated fourth season following a three year gap since the third season premiered. Overall, I felt like animation mainstays and newcomers, both where anime and western media is concerned, encompassed the entire convention. I can’t begin to describe the common wave of excitement that enraptured us fans when we saw Chainsaw Man’s enigmatic story come to life, or the final arc of Bleach finally on display after a ten year hiatus. (GT)

Winner: James McAvoy. He is a true thespian, an actor with a fascinating insight into acting, and a modern day legend who took the time to take photographs with fans after the His Dark Materials panel on Thursday. (GT) 

Loser: The Funko standby line. Why even bother with a standby line if people who join it will not have a chance to buy merchandise? While the reservation system mostly worked (after its epic fail the first time around), legions of non-fan badge holders were disappointed by the lack of a more organized way to grab Funko’s products. (GT)

Loser: The photo-op area on Friday afternoon. As a fun sized person and someone who is still relearning to be comfortable in dense groups of people, I was overwhelmed by how difficult it was to move in the autograph and photo op area on Friday – I’ll chalk it up to Sebastian Stan’s 14 photo op groups and the fact that he was only appearing that day (I get it, I love the man, met him almost five years ago and would meet him again in a heartbeat). I was scheduled for two photo ops, and thanks to logistical challenges, I left the designated area more than an hour after I was supposed to. Thankfully, this problem significantly improved on Saturday, which was a miracle considering that Oscar Isaac, Brendan Fraser and Steve Burns (who sold out) had their first appearances that day. (GT) 

Loser: Peach Momoko fans. In an era where many comics creators charge for signatures, an artist as popular as Peach Momoko offering 10 free signatures and very low priced $20 remarques has become a rarity. This was great for fans until her artist alley table was overrun with overly pushy jerks with Exhibitor badges looking to make money off flipping a hot item. People were loudly arguing over their place in line, and a fight almost broke out in front of her table on Sunday before Peach announced she wouldn’t be signing or sketching that day. Ms. Momoko did a special make-up signing event at Midtown Comics on Monday, and warned that any faces she recognized as troublemakers the day before would be booted immediately. (BH)

Winner: Felix Comic Art. It wasn’t just Peach Momoko’s table that was overrun with exhibitors. The Exhibitor pass gives the holder free reign of the show floor and Artist Alley, allowing anyone with one to line up extra early for exclusive merchandise, signatures and sketches, leaving even the fans who lined up hours early to be the first into the building at an extreme disadvantage. This isn’t new, but it certainly seems to be a growing problem. It was out of hand at HeroesCon this past summer and was just as bad at NYCC this weekend. Enter Felix Lu and Felix Comic Art. They gave out tickets at the start of each day for the Felix repped artists. They had firm rules in place, including a No Exhibitors rule that they stuck too. I watched an exhibitor try in vain to get a Daniel Warren Johnson sketch ticket on Saturday. He was wasting his breath. Felix repped artists offered free signatures as well. Between that, and their clear rules on sketches, they are head and shoulders above every other art rep in Artist’s Alley when it comes to being fan-focused. (BH)

Loser: The Todd McFarlane signing line at CGC. Todd McFarlane’s signing line at CGC on Saturday was a perfect storm of poor planning. It happened at the CGC booth on the show floor, located right smack in a high traffic area near both a bathroom and an entrance/exit. The amount of reservations given out greatly exceeded the available space in and around CGC, with the line stretching like a snake for four aisles in one direction and turning for two more aisles in another direction. The line was policed by one harried staffer. As much as I appreciate Reed Pop assigning people to stand around lackadaisically handing out masks in the panel wing, maybe a few of those people should have been helping monitor this hundreds of persons line. CGC staff offered no help with the line. Fans were told by the NYCC staff member to police themselves at every intersection, leading to loud arguments when fans joining what they thought were the end of the line discovered they were no where near the back of the line. (BH)

Winner: NYC comics shops. All week leading up to NYCC through the day after NYCC ended, it seemed like at least one store in the city was having a NYCC related signing or event each night. St. Mark’s Comics and Forbidden Planet hosted multiple signings in shop, Midtown Comics hosted a number of well organized signings at their booth (take notes, CGC) and hosted Peach Momoko at their store on Monday while Bill Sienkiewicz signed his new comic at Forbidden Planet the same night. What a great city in which to be a comics fan! (BH)

Loser: Whatnot. Did I just wait in line at WhatNot just to win an empty soda can? Wait, did I just wait in another line at WhatNot just to not win an empty soda can? Oof. (BH)

Winner: IDW Publishing. When it was announced that IDW would be losing two stalwarts of its publishing line, G.I. Joe and Transformers, things looked worrisome for the publisher. But they’ve doubled down on bringing in big names to produce new works, like Scott Snyder and Stephen Graham Jones, whose comics, Dark Spaces: Wildfire and Earth Divers: Kill Columbus, were shown off in the publisher’s Sunday panel, along with New Yorker cartoonist Sofia Warren’s memoir, My Year With a Socialist Senator, and the continuation of IDW’s excellent Artist’s Edition series spearheaded by editor Scott Dunbier. And if you’re at IDW for its licensed books, don’t worry, it doesn’t look like My Little Pony or TMNT are going anywhere (for now). (BH)

Winner: Superman. I covered all the comics-related DC panels (except for the Gotham City panel, which was 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, a time I did not realize was an option), and I easily found the Superman panel to be the most exciting. Moderated by Alex Segura with writers Joshua Williamson, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Mark Russell, and Dan Jurgens, the panel was packed with news. Specifically, Williamson is launching a new Superman #1 with artist Jamaal Campbell, while Action Comics is getting an expanded anthology format and Tom Taylor’s Jon Kent-starring run continues with an Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent miniseries. News in a Big 2 panel is a blast, because the crowd really gets up for it. Moreover, though, I think what stood out here was the genuine creator excitement. Every answer was thoughtful and sincere, and the whole thing was refreshingly absent the usual generic hype that tends to populate these things. Rather than “The DC universe will never be the same!” or “We’re so excited to show this to you guys,” the answers here felt more like excited friends telling you plans at an after-con bar meetup. Also, DC expanding its Superman line in this age of All Bat-Everything felt like a small (and very welcome) miracle. (ZQ)

Loser: Friday. Look, this may be anecdotal, but Friday felt more packed to me than Saturday. It also felt like a good number of folks in attendance had to shake off rust from missing mega shows for roughly three years. Whatever the cause, I know I for one had a better time once I got comfortable during the show’s second half, and talking to others, many folks seemed to feel the same way. (ZQ) 

Winner: The ‘90s. ‘90s nostalgia is everywhere nowadays, and NYCC is no exception. At DC’s Jim Lee and Friends panel, Lee opened by asking who liked ‘90s comics. The capacity crowd erupted, a reaction that seemed to genuinely surprise Lee, who then remarked, “If I’d have known you guys would have loved the material we did in the ‘90s, I’d have done more of it.” (ZQ)

Loser: NYCC panel pre-registration system. Something going wrong with pre-registering for NYCC panels seems like a given and this year was no exception. While I’m sure quite a number of people were upset that weren’t able to get into their desired Main Stage and Empire panels, I found I still was able to get into quite a number of them that were listed as sold out on the website even without pre-registering or media reserved seating. (TD) 

Winner: Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s She Eats the Night – not only was this sort of the Book of the Show as far as buzz went, but their move from Image to Abrams was a sign of the possibilities of individual authors to move around and find homes for projects. (HM)

Winner: New York Comic Con – for all the nitpicking and losers, it all comes from love of an event that unites so many aspects of the industry in a terrifying, beautiful stew. So many people were happy just to be together again, and after the last three years, we will never take that for granted again. (HM)

Find all of The Beat’s NYCC ’22 coverage by clicking here!