Hey, letter... folks. Sorry for suddenly taking ill last week. Normally I’d try to do an extra-sized “Postal” to make up for it, but 1) I’m still recovering and 2) this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is approaching, which does not bode well for the already shaky reliability of the mailbag. But let’s start by addressing the con itself, the chaotic mess that is Star Trek’s economy, and whether the Wonder Woman movie accidentally killed Jesus.
Planning the Con
I just won a contest for tickets to San Diego Comic Con. I’ve never been to SDCC, or any other Comic Con for that matter, so I’m not sure what to expect. Some initial reading I’ve done makes it sound daunting: waiting for hours in lines, camping overnight, sitting in Hall H all day just to see one must-see panel in the evening. I’ve only got tickets for Saturday so I want to get the most out of my time. What should a first time SDCC-goer expect, and what do you recommend we do with our limited time there?
I’m going to do more research to get prepared, but I thought it might be worth asking our resident postman for some tips (they do still have Comic Con in the post apocalypse right? Presumably just actual zombies instead of cosplay?)
I’m very happy to help! Comic-Con is an enormously overwhelming experience. It’s definitely best to go in with a plan if you want to get the most out of your trip.
First and foremost, the exhibitor floor is the heart and soul of Comic-Con. It’s not so much the shopping—although there’s tons of it, including all the exclusive collectibles—but the exhibits. If you only do one thing, plan on spending several hours just wandering the floor, letting companies spew their marketing all over you for new movies, shows, products, etc. Definitely go to the artist alleys to see the wide range of art from pros and fans, which provides the best exclusives that won’t immediately be going up on eBay.
You’re right to avoid Hall H, because that will take up your entire day, whether it’s spent waiting in line or waiting in the room for the one panel you actually want to see. But there will be dozens and dozens of panels ranging from toy companies hawking their new wares to scholarly pop culture discussions to celebrations of just about everything, and if you find one you like that isn’t in Hall H (or possibly Ballroom 20), and you find yourself having explored the floor to your satisfaction, it’s worth going to one, as these are generally the most exclusive content of the con.
Also make time to explore outside, where several companies, shows, movies, and whatever will set up exhibits and activities, like The Walking Dead’s Zombie Obstacle Course.
What you need to be prepared for mainly is just a shit-ton of people. Even if you avoid the big panels, there’s going to be a line for just about anything—getting into the con proper, food, the bathrooms. Over 130,000 people attend each year, and Saturday is the busiest day. Trying to find a restaurant to eat dinner at even remotely near the convention center is a herculean task. But the silver lining her i that when you’re in one of the those lines, strike up conversations! Chances are your both here because you’re celebrating your fandom. You’re with literally thousands of like-minded nerds—these are your people! Nerding out with new people is a joy at any con.
So bring snacks, stay hydrated, and be prepared to be completely drained at the end of the day. And remember, for all its many hassles, there’s nothing else quite like San Diego Comic-Con. Long-time attendees may complain about the show—like myself—but they’re old and bitter. It’s something every nerd should try to go to at least once in your lifetime. It is truly an experience.
Dear Mr. Postman, it pains me to ask this question, as it was my favorite Cartoon/Toy/Comic combo as a kid, but is GI Joe, as an IP, dead?
Hasbro has made an effort between the movies, a handful of comic reboots, and sporadic toy line relaunches. But it just doesn’t seem to catch like Transformers or TMNT have.
I know there’s talk of a combined cinema universe for Hasbro toys, but its hard to see GI Joe being a major draw without a strong toy or comic presence.
So what say you, Mr. Postman? Is GI Joe going to case the colors forever?
In terms of a massive toy line or a Saturday morning cartoon, G.I.Joe is pretty dead. Oh, I’m sure Hasbro will try both of these things again eventually, but until modern kids loop back around to thinking soldiers and war are awesome as we weirdly did in the ‘80s, they’ll stick with their perennial favorites like the Turtles, the Transformers, Pokémon, and the rest. G.I.Joe was very much a product of its time—unlike the idea of robots that turn into other things, which is eternal—and it’s hard to imagine that celebration of war aimed at young kids happening anytime in the next 20 years minimum.
So G.I.Joe exists purely as a nostalgia franchise for the time being, which is admittedly like being on life support compared to its ‘80s heyday, but it could be a lot worse. IDW is still publishing G.I.Joe comics, including a direct continuation of the beloved ‘80s series from Larry Hama (with art by my buddy S.L. Gallant). Hasbro is churning out G.I.Joe exclusive toys for Comic-Con and the JoeCon every year, and several other collectible companies are happy to sell other Joe products to fans, like Sideshow’s statue series.
There is some hope, in that there have been rumors of a Transformers/G.I.Joe crossover movie for several years now; earlier this year, director DJ Caruso told Collider that the third G.I.Joe movie would have been a Transformers crossover before it was scrapped, but that the idea is still on a metaphorical table in Hasbro HQ somewhere.
In all likelihood the success of the Transformers movie franchise has likely made Hasbro hesitant to mess with it by piggybacking another property onto it, which is why we’re supposedly getting a slew of standalone Transformers films, but not the crossover. But with Bay maybe finally leaving for realsies, and Hasbro regaining some creative control, and its desire to squeeze more money out of its second-biggest, self-owned boys toy property, maybe they’ll take a chance… maybe. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.
Gods Among Us
I just saw Wonder Woman last night, and realized afterwards that this movie established that Zeus is the actual creator of all human life on Earth. So, essentially, on this Earth, all other religions got it completely wrong, and nobody worships the actual gods of their world (presumably since they all died long ago at the hands of Ares, who is also now dead). That is kind of a BIG DEAL. This seems surprising to me that WB/DC would take such a definitive position on gods and the creation of humanity in their movies, compared to how Marvel avoids the whole “god” question by making the Asgardians an alien race. I’m not saying it’s bad, but was there any backlash to this? Does this come back to hurt the DCEU story-wise (locking them into such a definite position on the gods)? I’m not as familiar with DC continuity, so I don’t know if they make use of any other mythologies.
You’re overthinking it. The Greek gods may be real in the DCEU, but that doesn’t preclude other gods, just like in DC’s comics. They have the Greek gods, Celtic gods, Japanese gods, New Gods, Kryptonian gods—a whole mess of them. Same deal with Marvel.
Here’s the weird thing: While this means technically the Judeo-Christian god and Jesus are also part of the DC and Marvel universes, both publishers go out of their way to try to never ever mention them. The reasoning is pretty obvious. If you don’t mention them, you don’t run the risk of portraying them in a way someone finds offensive, which, given the many, many differing versions of the religion in this country, is pretty inevitable. I mean, you sort of have to choose between Judaism and Christianity right off the bat, so you’re instantly picking a side, and this is before you consider what God/Jesus would actually be doing in a superhero comic—e.g. helping the Fantastic Four defeat Mole Man. Also, since the Judeo-Christian god is considered both omnipotent and omniscient, and has Jesus’ back, it really shouldn’t be a problem for Jesus to defeat Mole Man in about 0.2 seconds, which is not good storytelling.
There’s also the issue that God/Yahweh is a monotheistic deity, and thus if he exists in the Marvel/DC universe, then none of the other gods should exist. He likes to hog the holy spotlight, so to speak, but it’s the gods of the other mythologies that end up being more… traditionally superheroic. Maybe Marvel can fudge it a bit more in that the Norse gods are actually extradimensional beings, but it’s not like that would prevent everyone who might be offending from getting upset.
Basically, this is one of those things where there’s no benefit at all of bringing it up, and hopefully no one notices that hey, if Zeus were real, then... ?
Latium Can’t Buy Happiness
Star Trek is supposed to take place in a post-scarcity (and sometimes post-currency) world. Yet in the Ferengi we have an entire race whose sole obsession seems to be acquisition of wealth by any means possible.
1) If the Federation is not in the habit of using currency - why would the Ferengi trade with them in the first place?
2) If the Federation has a currency that is used strictly for commerce with the Ferengi, then what are they providing that Star Fleet itself can’t obtain via replicators?
3) For that matter, why are there casinos in a world where wealth is meaningless?
1) First off, the Federation’s economy is a mystery and is a quagmire to sift through for fans, to the point that Manu Saadia wrote Trekonomics in hopes of sort of figuring it out.
Inside the Federation, there’s not really any need for money, as no one goes hungry, and everyone’s needs are met. But the Federation does have dealings with cultures that do have money, like the Ferengi, and are prepared for it. It makes the most sense that the Federation maintains a collective resource of currency, which citizens can request from, just like a business requisition.
But once two cultures clash—one post-currency, one still wallowing in it—there’s going to be some crossover. The Ferengi will want things from indidivual citizens, who may or may not be willing to trade and receive money in return. Which brings us to…
2) There are oodles of things either the Federation in general or the citizens in particular might want from the Ferengi that they can’t easily acquire. After all, replicators can make food and machinery—even some organic items like body parts and animals—but it’s still pretty limited. Here’s a brief list of what the Federation may want to buy from the Ferengi: A ship. Anything alien, including technology, weaponry, or an artifact. Knowledge. Art. An experience. Much much better and more exotic food. Authentic, non-replicated space booze.
3) As for gambling, people like the thrill of it. For a lot of people, it’s not about the profit, it’s about the fun. I mean, there are countless groups of friends coming together for poker nights across the planet, only putting in $20, $5, or maybe even just a pile of nickels. It’s not about the profit, it’s about the fun of trying to outthink and outplay your opponent.
Not that anyone minds winning the money, of course. Besides, if a Starfleet officer wins a bunch of latium gambling with Ferengi, it means he now has money to purchase the intriguing and decidedly non-essential things the Federation can’t provide for him. Apparently, 10 strips of Latium is enough to get you a night in the Holodeck program “A Visit with the Pleasure Goddess of Rixx,” which I’m pretty sure does not come standard in most Starfleet ship holodecks.
Greetings postman person,
So I saw the Black Panther teaser and it looked incredibly badass, but as one of those dreaded fake geek boys that you’ve all been warned about (he’s never even read the comics!!!) I have some questions about Wakanda and its relationship with the rest of Africa. For instance, how does this technologically advanced wonderland justify hiding itself from its poorer neighbors? Isn’t letting the rest of the continent grind its way through poverty and unstable mayhem kind of a dick move on Black Panthers part? How do you think the movie will address this while keeping Black Panther sympathetic?
The Marvel movie will likely address it the same way the comic address it: By not bringing it up.
Wakanda isn’t any more responsible for care of African countries in turmoil than the Avengers are. You can blame Black Panther for not stopping the kidnapping of African children who are then turned into soldiers, but you can blame Iron Man for not spending his time helping just as much. Proximity is a false argument, especially given all of SHIELD’s transportation tech.
Comics—and almost all pop culture entertainment—avoid these real world problems because there’s no win in bringing them up. Reminding readers/viewers/etc of the atrocities going on in real life not only bums them out, but also offers a reminder that the heroes can’t be allowed to fix these issues. Hawkeye can’t stop police shootings. Hulk can’t liberate North Korea. Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Henry Pym can’t figure out a cure for cancer, even though they’ve invented pretty much everything else ever. So why bring it up at all? Ignoring the genuinely horrible things the heroes aren’t fighting is part of the pact we made when we read comics.
If you’re looking for a more in-canon reason why Wakanda hasn’t helped its fellow African nations, remember, the country’s whole deal is that for most of its history it has tried to stay hidden so other countries don’t invade it. Its reserves of vibranium would have made it a target for any nation looking for riches and conquest, which is why its rulers isolated it and shut it out from the outside world. They also have a non-aggression policy because any venture into other nations—no matter the purpose—could have revealed Wakanda’s existence, putting it and its people in jeopardy.
Mister Postman, look and see, I got a letter for your bag ‘bout Guardians of the Galaxy.
Following James Gunn’s remarks on knowingly breaking canon with Guardians Vol. 3, a friend pointed out that since Vol. 2 takes place months after the first one (2014) and the FedEx scene Stan Lee references takes place in Civil War in 2016, does that mean that canon has already been, maybe not broken, but scratched? That said this was just a little mistake that happened to have some larger implications, but does this small infraction mean that canon’s been compromised?
I think what I’m trying to ask is: what’s the difference between a filmmaking goof and breaking canon? Additionally, are there always ways to correct these things? For instance the 12 parsecs example from Star Wars started off as a goof before being corrected in the EU.
A goof is a mistake, a break in canon is a contradiction to what has been been previously established. When Han Solo said he made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, he was misusing the word, but since no one in the Star Wars universe had used the word properly before, it gave fans and writers a pile of opportunities to explain it away.
While I wouldn’t worry about the Stan Lee cameos—1) other than First Avenger, most of the Marvel movies take place in a neutral “now,” so who knows for sure that Civil War didn’t take place a few weeks after the events of GotG Vol. 1, and 2) Stan Lee’s cameos are a much bigger canonical problem anyway—go ahead and make your peace that eventually Marvel is going to mess up its cinematic universe canon just like it has with its comics, just like an long-running franchise that includes multiple creators will eventually botch its canon.
Canon is a straight line that companies try to walk on as long as they can, but eventually they’re going to miss a step. It’s inevitable, whether it’s because a new film’s story needs to alter or ignore something from a previous movie, or because someone just forgot a throwaway line from a movie made six years prior. The canon-break that Gunn says he’s thinking about making for GotG Vol. 3 sounds incredibly minor—he needs to change some origin info for one of the characters listed in the Nova Corps. line-up from the first movie—but it is an inconsistency. It’s up to you whether you can ignore a tiny crack in the foundation or if it mars the perfection for you utterly.
As for correcting these things, there’s almost always a way out. For instance, I don’t see any reason why the Nova Corps. needed to have 100 percent accurate information in their files on the Guardians. Couldn’t someone in the Nova clerical department have made a typo or forgot to fact-check a rumor?
No matter what the problem, there’s always a fan that can explain it away to him/herself, even if no one else buys it.
Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Keep those emails coming, and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org! Remember, no question too difficult or dumb! Probably!