Captain Comics: News from New York Comic Con

By Andrew A. Smith

New York Comic Con, the second most famous convention of its type (after San Diego), ran Oct. 7-10. You can be forgiven if this is news to you.

While it was in-person, and had a lot of announcements, what it didn’t have was Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. (DC films). Those studios have begun releasing big movie announcements at their own in-house celebrations: Disney Investor Day and DC Fundome, respectively. That tends to reduce the headlines in your news feed during the big comics conventions.

So we’ll wait on the movie news. In the meantime, NYCC gave us plenty of TV and comics news. While it may not be earth-shattering, a lot is still pretty cool.

LIFE WITH ARCHIE

The news: This may be cheating, but Archie Comics announced before NYCC that TV’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Kiernan Shipka) will cross over from her now-canceled Netflix series to The CW’s “Riverdale.” The series’ sixth season begins on Nov. 16 with a special five-episode story, and Greendale’s witch will arrive in episode 4, “The Witching Hour(s).”

Meanwhile, even newer news is that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will return to the Archie Comics series that started this whole shebang, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” That comic book stopped coming out with issue #8 in 2017, and we readers figured it had been canceled so that Aguirre-Sacasa could focus on his TV projects. But lo, issue #9 ships Oct. 13 with Aguirre-Sacasa and veteran artist Robert Hack back on board. And the “Sabrina” TV series will also continue in a new comics series, “The Occult World of Sabrina,” arriving sometime in 2022.

My takeaway: Yes, I’m confused as anyone by the fact that A) “Riverdale” has jumped ahead by seven years, whereas “Sabrina” never did, and B) Sabrina’s dead. Sorry, spoiler alert. She died at the end the fourth season of her series. Which I now learn was never meant to be permanent, but looked that way when Netflix nixed a Season 5.

But who cares? Magic is involved, so the usual rules don’t apply. “Riverdale” — never the most sane show to begin with — will go absolutely bonkers when sorcery is added to the mix. (Maybe Cheryl’s dead twin will return after all.)

And I will be front and center for both of those “Sabrina” comic books. Is it too much to hope for a continuation of “Afterlife with Archie” as well? That’s the one where a few regulars (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Mr. Lodge) escape Riverdale during the zombie apocalypse, with brain-hungering hordes led by an undead Jughead. Fun stuff.

STILL EXPANDING

The news: Amazon Prime released a trailer for Season 6 of “The Expanse,” the entirety of which drops Dec. 10. The Free Navy is still throwing asteroids at Earth and Mars, and war has erupted all over the solar system. Meanwhile, something’s rising on the other side of the Rings.

My takeaway: “The Expanse” has been one of the most consistently well-written, well-acted sci-fi shows on TV, with a coherent universe and utilitarian special effects that look awesome while also serving the story. The only check to my euphoria is that this is the last season of the show. Alas, all good things must end.

THE VOIGHT-KAMPFF TEST

The news: Adult Swim and Crunchyroll announced “Blade Runner: Black Lotus,” a 13-episode, animated show that takes place between the two movies — “Blade Runner” (1982) and “Blade Runner: 2049” (2017) — and will continue to explore the themes and background of this world. Two episodes will drop Nov. 13, and the show will continue weekly.

My takeaway: “Blade Runner” is an action-adventure franchise with a rich, philosophical subtext: “What makes a human being?” That’s a pretty popular question in sci-fi, comics and anime/manga, and fits the moody, noir setting perfectly. It’s not a question of equipment, really, but of what ideas and values we hold that comprise our humanity. That question is more important today than it ever has been before.

Honestly, “Blade Runner” is such a powerful, layered concept that I’m sure it will work in animation just as well as it already has in live action. Maybe better, since the creators have 13 hours to tell their story, instead of two.

TO BOLDLY GO

The news: Paramount+ released the first extended look at “Star Trek: Prodigy,” an animated show for younger viewers starring a hologram of Captain Kathryn Janeway (with the voice of Kate Mulgrew) and four ne’er-do-well kids who steal a small Federation ship. Also announced: Robert Beltran will return to voice Chakotay in some fashion. “Star Trek: Prodigy” will launch Oct. 28, and will also air on Nickelodeon at some point.

“Star Trek: Discovery” Season 4 arrives Nov. 18, and the NYCC panel debuted a new trailer. There’s not a lot of “new” here to talk about, except maybe the snazzier uniforms. The logline reads “Season 4 of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ finds Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery facing a threat unlike any they’ve ever blah blah Federation blah blah unknown blah blah work together blah blah hopeful future for all.”

My takeaway: Seriously, the logline had no proper nouns or actual facts, so it’s not worth the time to read. The trailer had lots of exciting visuals, but with no context, it’s impossible to even guess what’s going on.

Which is OK. I like “Discovery,” although I admit it’s taken a little while for it to find its feet. But now the crew is in the future, Burnham is finally captain and everyone’s ready to finally start this adventure for real. Looking forward to it.

As to “Prodigy,” the trailer confirmed what I already suspected, that it’s aimed a little too young for me. It also explains why Janeway doesn’t drag these kids to the nearest Starbase by the ear; it’s because she’s a hologram (like the Doctor on “Voyager”) who is programmed to assist, not pull rank.

THE WHEEL TURNS

The news: Robert Jordan’s 14-book “Wheel of Time” fantasy novel series is being adapted at Amazon Prime, debuting on Nov. 19. And wouldn’t you know it, NYCC had a new clip.

To the untrained eye, it’s just a scene of a typical Middles Ages inn with a clutch of typical Middle Ages types merrily quaffing beer (or mead, or whatever), before having the bejabbers scared out of them by the arrival of a mysterious, haughty woman with an intimidating bodyguard/manservant. But if you’ve read the books, you know that this scene introduces most of the major characters at play in the first novel, “The Eye of the World” (1990).

The most important, of course, is Haughty Woman, who is Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Aes Sedai, an all-female order that wields powerful magic. Her “Warder” is Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), and they have come to this small town, Two Rivers, for a reason. Other major characters in the scene include Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford). According to the NYCC panel, other familiar characters will arrive in this season and in the already greenlit Season 2.

My takeaway: We’ve got the makings here of a dynamite adaptation. And Rosamund Pike is the perfect choice for Moiraine. I already find her terrifying in every role she plays!

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