Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Thanks to CCI for Providing a Press Pass for the Purposes of Coverage.
This past weekend, consisting of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, legions of fans rushed to the Anaheim Convention Center near Downtown Disney for this year’s Wonder-Con, hosted by Comic-Con International. And courtesy of CCI (Comic-Con International), HBB Reviews was fortunate enough to cover the event and explore every nook and cranny that this spectacular and massive event had to offer. Ranging from exclusive world premieres of the most anticipated upcoming animated releases, such as Justice League: The Fatal Five and of course Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to fan signings with the most respected icons in the industry to a gaming section to a massive exhibit hall and artist’s alley, Wonder-Con 2019 had something for everyone, regardless if they were fans of comic books or not.
In relation to other conventions, excluding San Diego Comic-Con of course, Wonder-Con 2019 boasted an impressive sense of scale. Talent from the most popular releases in entertainment, from TV shows to films themselves, appeared to highlight exclusive panels moderated with charm by those who were actually related to the subject matter of the panel itself. It created a much more concise and focused discussion as the moderator was never struggling to catch up with the audience and the present talent. The panels themselves also were far more intriguing and better managed than previous years. For one, it was shockingly easy to navigate in and out of the Arena, an area which had the most popular events including a presentation from Warner Bros and New Line. This was most likely because of the number of attendees striking a fine chord between understaffed and overstaffed.
The centerpiece of any convention, the constantly crowded Exhibit Hall and Artist’s Alley, was similarly scaled to a much larger degree. Exciting exhibitors such as Marvel were unfortunately absent from this year’s massive roster were replaced by a series of hopefuls who had excellent artwork and deals to coincide with their pieces. It resulted in a much more balanced ratio of blockbuster exhibitors to the independent ones, making each side equally appealing.
However, a notable issue that shouldn’t be ignored is the Exclusive Signing process. After the cancelling of the signing of The Curse of La Llorna, many fans were left empty of “credits,” the system used to fairly divide chances amongst all attendees, as they had spent all of it on that one signing. Fortunately, they appeared to have been reimbursed with a signing with the Shazam! cast, but the process and system in general is so unorganized that I wish they would do something about it. Its lack of functionality and purpose is furthered by the fact that many of the artists present at the DC Comics signing were available for signing at their own individual booths, granted for an additional five dollars, making the randomized system feel pointless as attendees can just walk over to the artist’s table in the Alley.
Speaking of which, located just across the Exhibit Hall, was in fact the Artist’s Alley. Admittedly, this year’s batch of art work was somewhat lackluster, with Dragon-Con 2018 even outclassing what was available. Much of the available products consisted of prints of already public posters, outside of one vendor’s spectacular image of The Flash.
But making up for the disappointing original art was the number of notable actors, artists, and writers available for signings throughout the entire weekend, signings that didn’t involve the randomized process. Some of the most prominent included legendary voice actor, iconic from his role as the Caped Crusader in Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy, DC writer Scott Snyder, and artist Greg Capullo. Outside of Conroy, all of their signings were capped at a respectable and reasonable five dollars.
Like any other convention, cosplay is a massive part of this year’s Wonder-Con. There were some fantastic costumes that looked genuinely authentic to the fictional characters that are being portrayed. However, some of the best cosplay was divided between the Wonder-Con Masquerade in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena and outside of the Convention Center itself. Reportedly, CCI has implemented a policy stating that all cosplaying participants in the Masquerade are not allowed to show their costume before the Masquerade itself, dividing certain cosplayers. Nonetheless, there was still a great showing this year.
As noted in multiple panels, Wonder-Con 2019 has finally emerged from just a smaller version of San Diego Comic-Con to its own unique spirit and style. It has scaled impressively from previous years, highlighting talent and panels that were just as compelling as the Hall H panels at SDCC. If CCI was able to do such a fantastic job with this three-day weekend, creating a spectacular and unforgettable event, then this year’s actual Comic-Con in San Diego shows immense promise.
WonderCon Anaheim 2020 will be held April 10-12 at the Anaheim Convention Center.