As you walked to the entrance of the convention hall for Day-2 of the 2013 Phoenix Comicon there were a dozen or more genre themed vehicles parked along the west side of the building including the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, Jurassic Park Jeeps, a pair of Knight Rider cars and Bumble Bee from the Transformers series. It was an exciting way to rev-up for a day of pop culture cavorting.
Just because the Con is rife with science-fiction and fantasy, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some real science and/or scientists among the festivities. And so to bring things back down to Earth I decided to sit in on a presentation of the ASU and U of A efforts to find life on other planets.
Scientists Marc Neveu, Dan Berman, Paul Davies, Dr. David Williams and Steve Desch talked about astrobiology and the process of searching for alien life and exploring our Solar System and beyond. This was a fantastic panel discussion that covered both history and future planned missions; and the presentation included amazing real images from the surface of other worlds. If you would like see some of these awesome visuals, visit uahirise.org.
After feeling somewhat smarter after sitting in on the “Exploring the Solar System” panel, I inadvertently took two steps back by attending the Michael Rooker event in the Con’s main ballroom, where the actor seemed to be nearly as crazy, rude and irreverent as his character, Merle, on The Walking Dead television series.
The veteran actor was making sexist comments to the female moderator and communicating with fans by saying things like, “Go ahead and ask your question, Boy!” While some of this was slightly humorous, it was uncomfortable and left me with an overall distaste for the man. While I admire Rooker’s resume and acting ability, I have to give his personal appearance at the Con a reluctant thumbs-down.
As you would expect, the number of attendees on Friday increased greatly from what was seen on opening night, and the number of incredible costumes increased commensurately. The highlights included a life-like Mr. Freeze and a female version of Thor’s evil sibling, Loki. Also on hand was a pretty sweet Green Arrow & Black Canary couple. (See our Friday photo gallery at the bottom of this post.)
Speaking of Green Arrow, I was able to meet comic-book legend Neal Adams at his Con booth (#772) and got an autographed graphic novel compilation of the artist’s revolutionary work on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic series of the early seventies. If you make it out to the Con this weekend, a stop at Mr. Adams table is highly recommended.
Later in the afternoon, TheOneRing.net held an “unauthorized” sneak-peak at The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug film (opening in theatres on Dec. 13, 2013.) Their presentation contained several still images from the upcoming film which is currently in production, but their sources claim that the dragon Smaug will not be seen by human eyes until Bilbo sees the enormous creature in the movie. The Dragon is currently the best kept secret in Hollywood.
I wrapped up the evening again with the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS) finals. (You can read how the preliminary rounds went in our Thursday Con coverage.) Four pairs of contestants competed until only one was left standing and here’s how it all went down.
Who is the wiser headmaster, Albus Dumbledore or Professor Xavier?
Peter argued that Professor X runs Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters by himself and he was able to come back from the dead; the X-men’s headmaster has a lot on his plate and he does it all from a wheelchair. John countered that Dumbledore does everything Xavier can do, but he’s 5-times older; that, and he personally trained Harry Potter.
Winner: Peter with Professor X
Who would win a chess match between Data and Mr. Spock?
Scott suggested that Data could outwit Spock logically and outlast him physically, because he is an android. He also remembered that Spock once lost a chess game to Captain Kirk. Richard answered that Data has an emotion-chip, not a brain-chip, and all Spock has to do is shut Data off if he should start to win.
Winner: Richard with Spock
Who is the better imaginary friend, Tyler Durden (Fight Club) or Hobbes (Calvin and Hobbes)?
Mike began with the case that Tyler Durden is inside all of us and that he makes us a better man because he makes us think like we want to think. Nico argued that Hobbes is a tiger and, “What kid doesn’t want a tiger?” Nico then confessed that he didn’t know who either character was.
Winner: Mike with Tyler Durden
Who is the creepier ghost, Patrick Swayze (Ghost) or Slimer (Ghostbusters)?
Jake offered that Swayze was creepier because at least Slimer doesn’t try to sleep with you as another person. Shawn countered that Swayze at least goes away in the end and that Slimer is everywhere you go, sliming you in the face. There was also a side argument regarding Whoopie Goldberg’s “slime” that I won’t get into…
Winner: Shawn with Slimer
Which is the more valuable book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the Necronomicon?
Peter argued that the Guide is more valuable because it has the word “galaxy” in the title and it is accessible to use by anyone. Shawn countered that the guide is just the “Wikipedia” of the galaxy and that Wikipedia is free and therefore has no value; whereas the Necronomicon is the only book of its kind and it’s made with human skin.
Winner: Shawn with Necronomicon
Which is the cooler hat, Dr. Who’s fez or Jayne Cobb’s knit hat?
Mike claimed Dr. Who’s fez is superior because it has a tassel and Jayne’s hat is really just a crocheted sock. Richard argued that the fez is not really a hat at all and that Jayne’s knit hat is badass and awesome for use in space.
Winner: Mike with Dr. Who’s fez
PUGS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
Which is the wiser philosophy? ‘Live long and prosper.’ or ‘Be excellent to each other.’
Mike stated that, “Be excellent to each other,” from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, is the soul of Comicon. Shawn surrendered after failing to prove that the Vulcan hand gesture together with the “Live long and prosper” philosophy were like bible commandments.
Winner: Mike with “Be excellent to each other.”
And so Mike DeLong was crowned PUGS Champion for 2013 and was awarded a one-of-a-kind trophy handcrafted by Dr. Diabolic with all sorts of genre-related geekery. Congrats to Mr. DeLong!
Stay tuned for more of our Phoenix Comicon coverage and until then, “be excellent to each other!”
2013 Phoenix Comicon Photo Gallery