Although the consequences of COVID-19 made New York Comic Con cancel its usual convention experience, ReedPOP, the organization behind the annual celebration of geek chic, still managed to corral some of its energy with NYCC Metaverse. The four-day event featured plenty of video panels on NYCC’s YouTube channel, a handful of exclusive merchandise for those who go to cons to shop, and even an attempt at a virtual dealer’s room that may give you some idea of the madness involved in navigating a real one.
That said, the event was still muted in comparison to a full-fledged weekend at New York’s Javits Center. The film industry’s continuing need to push back release dates means no high-profile movies to promote and even the comics industry itself is preparing for a lonelier, digital future. Lucky for us, television still offers a lot to NYCC – in fact, the 2019 convention felt like the show for TV. And even with fewer events, the virtual 2020 show still felt like a huge showcase for broadcast networks, streaming services, and cable outlets.
Here’s a rundown of the big reveals and updates TV shows offered to fans over the course of NYCC the past few days.
With Star Trek: Lower Decks ending its first season and Star Trek: Discovery about to begin its third, the Star Trek Universe panel dedicated its big news to the return of a welcome friend: Kate Mulgrew and her Star Trek: Voyager character Kathryn Janeway. Mulgrew will once again play the part in Star Trek: Prodigy, an animated series being developed for Nickelodeon. It will focus on a group of teenagers who commandeer a decommissioned starship. And from Mulgrew’s comments, it seems Janeway will be mentoring the young starfarers in some way. “How thrilling to be able to introduce these young minds to an idea that has elevated the world for decades,” she said. The announcement, of course, sent Trek fans into a tizzy as they debated Janeway’s role and even her rank – last time we saw her in Star Trek: Nemesis, she was an admiral, but the Prodigy press release referred to her as “captain.” Her real position on the show will, no doubt, spark more debate.
On the other shows, Discovery is preparing to send viewers the far-flung future of 3187 and the Lower Decks gang teased Boimler’s (Jack Quaid) new position on the Titan will not change in the second season. Well, at least not at first. Sadly, overall Star Trek creative director Alex Kurtzman offered no updates on Star Trek: Picard’s second season or the in-development Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but he did tell one outlet he has enough ideas to keep Discovery on the air until 2027.
Star Trek: Discovery returns this week.
COVID-19 even kept The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) sheltering in place this year, but the Doctor Who star was thrilled to mention cast and crew are preparing to go back into production on Season 13 soon. In fact, you can hear someone in the Zoom call say they may be back to work in “the next couple of weeks.”
The program is no stranger to long production breaks – it took nearly 15 years off, after all – but there will be at least one episode of Doctor Who in 2020: the holiday special “Revolution of the Daleks.” Whittaker teased The Doctor will be in an intergalactic prison for a long time and “has no idea what’s happening on Earth.” The TARDIS Team (or “fam”), meanwhile, try to get on with their lives. Yaz (Mandip Gill) has the hardest time re-acclimating to the slower pace of Sheffield, but any sort of domestic tidings are obliterated when a Dalek comes to town. Somehow, Yaz, Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) have to deal with the genocidal alien without The Doctor.
“Talk about being thrown in the deep end,” Walsh said of their predicament.
The group offered two preview photos of the special, but scheduling for the episode has not been finalized.
After what seems like an eternity, Amazon and co-creator Robert Kirkman finally unveiled footage from the upcoming animated adaptation of Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley’s Invincible. The series stars The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun as the son of an alien superhero. At age 16, his powers finally manifest and he must learn the family trade. That seemingly innocent brief hides the mature themes and extreme violence the comic and the series will explore. Beyond a cast which includes Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Mark Hamill, and more, Kirkman announced Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Michael Dorn will lend his voice to Battle Beast – a former planetary guardian with an addiction to combat.
The show is expected to premiere sometime next year.
Season 5 of Amazon’s beloved science-fiction series The Expanse will be its “most epic and the most personal season,” according to showrunner Naren Shankar. Centering on the notion that “you reap what you sow,” seeds of revolution and interpersonal conflict planted as far back as Season 1 will finally bear fruit. “It’s taking the people we’ve fallen in love with over the last four years and peeling back the layers,” he added. The story will also ask if they can “survive the most high-pressure situations they’ve ever been through” with their principles intact.
Like Amazon’s superhero hit The Boys, The Expanse will offer the first three episodes of Season 5 on December 16 with the subsequent episodes releasing on a weekly basis.
Snowpiercer came to NYCC with a teaser for their upcoming season and a discussion of new characters Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) and Alexandra Cavill (Rowan Blanchard). Both have key connections to Jennifer Connelly’s Melanie Cavill and it sounds like life will not be easy for her as Wilford’s train, Big Alice, barrels toward Snowpiercer. It also means profound troubles for Layton (Daveed Diggs) and his fledgling democracy aboard the titular locomotive. Showrunner Graeme Manson teased Big Alice’s society as something decidedly more authoritarian and the preview suggests Wilford and Layton are on a collision course all their own.
Season 2 debuts on January 25
The most important takeaway from BBC America’s panel for the upcoming series The Watch: Wendell Pierce is now part of the very small fraternity to voice author Terry Pratchett’s version of Death! Matt Berry will also appear as a talking sword called Wayne in the punk rock fantasy inspired by Pratchett’s City Watch novels (themselves set within the writer’s larger Discworld).
Executive producers Richard Stokes and Simon Allen were quick to admit the show takes some liberties with Pratchett’s world and characters – nary a plate of armor to be found anywhere! – but it still sets out to honor the sarcastic and anarchic worlds Pratchett created, right down to the Watch being hamstrung by the city’s quasi-legal organized crime guilds.
“His books are full of rich characters and wonderful environments,” Stokes said.
Allen, who also serves as showrunner, went one step further in his admiration of Pratchett, telling viewers, “Go read the books. They will change your life!”
The series features characters like Constable Carrot (Adam Hugill), a six-foot, broad-shouldered man who grew up believing he was a dwarf; an actual dwarf who moved to the city to escape the race’s rigid unary gender system and uses “queer magic”; a conflicted werewolf with concerns about Carrot’s devotion to the Watch; and Watch captain Sam Vimes (Richard Dormer), a “dissolute” alcoholic according to the actor. Other characters include a noble turned vigilante with a pet dragon, a city ruler who “uses sarcasm more than anything else,” and recurring antagonist Karcer Dun (Sam Adewunmi), who the producers said may prove to be less of a villain as time goes on.
The Watch comes to BBC America in January 3rd.
The Walking Dead might be ending (eventually), but the zombie universe shambles on with two additional series on the air right now and plans for a further spin-off and anthology series in development – then, of course, there’s that feature film with original star Andrew Lincoln on the way. It was so much content, AMC had to split its NYCC Walking Dead panels across two days. On the first day, a “Showrunners Summit” saw TWD Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple refer to a “far-flung story” which may see characters from the newest series, The Walking Dead: The World Beyond meeting up with favorites from Fear the Walking Dead or the original series. Considering World Beyond‘s focus on CRM, its story and Rick’s (Lincoln) could intersect.
Meanwhile, Fear will introduce a new sort of bounty hunter who specializes in locating people even if they’ve become Walkers. Also, Morgan’s (Lennie James) weird red eyes (as glimpsed in a clip shown during the panel) will be explored throughout the season as his new situation will lead to a whole new element of the Walking Dead universe.
Back on the original Walking Dead, the Commonwealth and Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) reaction to Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) new place in the community will become the focus of the “bonus” Season 10 episodes currently in production. The 24-episode final season will occur sometime afterward, proving there is still plenty of life to The Walking Dead.
Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: The World Beyond are currently airing on AMC.
Syfy brought the first 10 minutes of its new series Resident Alien to NYCC. Based on the Dark Horse comics by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, the show stars Alan Tudyk as an extraterrestrial on a “diabolical” mission who must disguise himself as a country doctor in a Colorado backwater when his ship crashes. According to showrunner Chris Sheridan, “he’s getting to know what it’s like to be human.” That exposure to humans is an element straight from the comic, although his drive to recover a lost tool to complete his mission is a new concept from Sheridan. Will becoming Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle alter his sense of duty? We’ll find out next year.
Resident Alien debuts on Syfy in January.
Armed with a trailer, American Gods confirmed it is finally making its way to the Lakeside portion of author Neil Gaiman’s book. Star Ricky Whittle said it was a “comfort” to know where the story is going – especially as Lakeside gives his character, Shadow Moon, a whole new status quo while he ponders the revelation about his father. Gaiman referred to Lakeside as a “little Twin Peaks-y story of its own.” Nevertheless, new showrunner Chuck Eglee forced Gaiman to consider what the other characters are doing while Shadow soul-searches and the stories they developed as a consequence will take the material in new directions.
Besides introducing a clearer motivation for the new gods via Bruce Langley’s Technical Boy, the series will introduce a brand-new character, Cordelia, to the mix. Played by Ashley Reyes, Gaiman called the character, who takes Shadow’s place at Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) side, an “astonishing” addition.
“For a human, she knows what she’s doing,” Reyes said of Cordelia, adding she “brings the humanity” out of the old god. Having no family of her own, she clings to him quickly. It may lead to some initial conflict with Shadow when they meet, but they “have quite a strong bond” as the season wears on.
And though it sounds like the characters will spend a lot of time apart, the trailer suggests a reunion between Shadow and Wednesday is set for sooner rather than later.
American Gods returns in early 2021.
Offering a few clips during their NYCC appearance, the cast and producer of Hulu’s upcoming M.O.D.O.K. series unveiled a glimpse into the home life of Marvel’s Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing. Patton Oswalt, who also serves as a producer, voices the beleaguered Marvel supervillain. Forced to sell his company to a competitor, he’s now a workaday Joe facing a destiny he no longer controls and a wife, Jodie (Aimee Garcia), whose home business is now more successful than he is. Then there’s his “queen bee” daughter Melissa (Melissa Fumero) – or M.E.L.I.S.S.A. depending on who you talk to – who wants to follow in M.O.D.O.K.’s footsteps, and his super-happy son Lou (Ben Schwartz), whose interests in magic and Judaism set him apart from the rest of the family.
Realized by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios – the crew behind Robot Chicken – using stop-motion animation, M.O.D.O.K. looks like no other Marvel series. Indeed, it won’t be like any other Marvel series as it is one of the handful of idiosyncratic projects Hulu greenlit before Marvel Studios took over all of Marvel Entertainment’s creative endeavors.
M.O.D.O.K. is “coming soon” to Hulu.
One of the other final Marvel Television projects for Hulu, Helstrom, screened the first 10 minutes of its first episode, in which Dr. Hastings (June Carryl) faces another tough night at the asylum and Daimon (Tom Austen) discovers his exorcism for the evening is nothing of the sort.
Somewhere between family drama and horror TV show, Helstrom shares that “like no other Marvel show” vibe with M.O.D.O.K. And like that animated program, its future is unknown.
Helstrom debuts this week.
Author Leigh Bardugo and executive producer Eric Heisserer offered a genuinely odd preview of the Grishaverse series Shadow and Bone. Thanks to COVID-19 and the lead-time needed to complete special effects, the pair offered no trailer. But they did convince Netflix to let them preview composer Joseph Trapanese’s “Grisha theme.” Heisserer described the series as “Ocean’s 11 in a Dickensian/Game of Thrones world” and promised he is trying hard to avoid putting the VFX crew into a grueling crunch period. Consequently, it may still take some time for any footage from the show – which stars Kit Young, Jessie Mei Li, and Ben Barnes as The Darkling – to materialize.
One of the most charming comic book adaptations on a streaming service is set to make its Netflix return this December. It follows Hilda (Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey), a young girl who moves from the wilds to the relative metropolis of Trollburg. Her spirit of adventure never wavers, and in a world filled with monsters and secrets, that tenacity is a strength and a weakness. So much so, in fact, Ramsey revealed a song she wrote about Hilda’s inability to learn from her mistakes will be featured during the end credits of a Season 2 episode.
Comic book creator Luke Pearson and head writer Stephanie Simpson teased the show will become more epic with the arrival of a genuine antagonist for Hilda – the chief of Trollburg’s safety patrol – and a further exploration of the city’s stranger quarters, like an old mill and a rumored witch’s tower which both moves from location to location and descends into the ground instead of building into the sky.
Director Andy Coyle called Pearson and Simpson’s plans “big ‘scope’ ideas, especially for a TV show.” Although he was quick to add the biggest challenge of Hilda, the more subtle emotions of abstracted cartoon characters, remains the same. “It sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s way harder to pull off than a hoard of giant monsters in a kinetic set-piece.”
Hilda returns to Netflix in December.
Make no mistake, Stargirl’s second season is a long way off. Officially slated for The CW’s nebulous 2021 midseason, executive producer Geoff Johns told his cast during their NYCC session that the writers are in the midst of putting Episode 4 together. Nonetheless, they convinced him to offer some answers about the marathon of teases included at the end of Season 1. The major villain will be Eclipso, a creature of darkness who killed both Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel in the pages of his own short-lived DC comic book. Both actors Yvette Monreal and Anjelika Washington hope to avoid their counterparts’ fate. Johns added Eclipso is a “scarier” threat than the Injustice Society and it will be quite a journey for Stargirl (Brec Bassinger) and the Justice Society of America to defeat him.
Though once a member of the ISA, it is unclear if The Shade – another character teased at the end of Season 1 – will be a friend or foe. Johns was quick to credit fellow series producer James Robinson with making the character compelling in his 1990s Starman series. In Robinson’s book, the character merely dabbled in villainy as it suited his own purposes and it seems he may do the same here.
The biggest of the teases was, of course, the revelation that Starman (Joel McHale) is still alive. Johns said his reason for showing up now will become clearer by the end of Season 2’s first episode. He also mentioned the other objects Stargirl stole from the old JSA headquarters will find new owners while Yolanda (Monreal) comes to grips with killing someone.
Stargirl returns sometime in 2021.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Pennyworth’s second season, it is still making a 2020 debut. Set for a December 13 premiere on Epix, the program will air four episodes into the early part of January before taking a pause to complete the remaining six episodes. It sounds like it will be worth the wait.
Show creator Bruno Heller and stars Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, and Paloma Faith offered NYCC viewers a brief preview of events. Set one year after the conclusion of Season 1, the war everyone worked to prevent has broken out and Thomas Wayne (Aldridge) is back in London looking after the CIA’s interests. Martha (Emma Paetz) is ready to fight for order, but Alfred (Bannon) wants nothing more than to earn enough money to move to the United States. Confusing matters, though, is Martha’s pregnancy. Though the child is presumably Thomas’s son, Aldridge and Bannon talked over each other to suggest things may not be so clear cut. Further complicating the issue: Thomas is engaged to a fine woman back in the States, although Heller characterized her as a part of the “old world” Thomas wants to escape. He event went to far as to call her a “throwaway gag.”
Perhaps more solid are the new additions to the cast: Simon Manyonda as Lucius Fox and Jessica de Gouw as Melanie Troy. The former is a well-established member of the Batman supporting cast, although he will be “working for the bad guys” at the start, according to Heller. Troy, meanwhile, is the wife of Alfred’s wartime commanding officer. Nonetheless, they will have an “immediate connection.”
Bet’s (Faith) loyalty to Lord Harwood (Jason Flemyng) will be rewarded with a position in his new regime. And as Faith put it, “She’s the sort of person who gets carried away in the uniform.”
Photo thumbnail courtesy of The CW, Starz, AMC