William Lee is a graduate of UC Irvine and Chapman with degrees in Film Studies and Screenwriting. He has held a life-long passion for all things geeky including comics, film, toys, and video games. He was previously a Senior Reviewer for over a decade with Movie Metropolis (formerly DVD Town). Will is a regular of the convention scene in Southern California and has been attending cons since 1993. You can also find him on Facebook as William D. Lee Photography

Bowsette and Princess Peach by @dangrrrously & @ashlynnedae

Wondercon closed out the month of March at the Anaheim Convention Center for another year of comic books, toys, and pop culture. 2024 definitely felt more muted than previous Wondercons, partly due to bad weather and mostly due to a lack of major guests and exhibitors. It seems the days of sponsorships from Shazam! or whatever hot new NBC show is coming may be temporarily over. This year, the convention center was adorned with a plain Wondercon banner while the badges advertised the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego. 

DC Comics once again chose to skip Wondercon as did Marvel. Even smaller publishers like Image, Top Cow, and Boom Studios. Robert Kirkman’s Image imprint, Skybound, also skipped the convention, somewhat surprising, given the massive success of their new Transformers and G.I. Joe line. IDW Publishing was the biggest comic publisher on site with signings for their licensed Star Trek comics and Patrick Horvath, creator of the hot new indie title, Beneath the Trees. Just imagine Dexter done in the art style of Peter Rabbit or Winnie the Pooh. Wander through Artists’ Alley and you’ll find a wide variety of creators including veteran writers Steve Englehart and Marv Wolfman, artists Dustin Nguyen, Jae Lee, Jeff Dekal, and Jonboy Myers.

Marv Wolfman: Co-creator of Blade, Deathstroke, Vigilante & many others.

Funko with their massive Funkoville mini-town and Bandai were missing from the exhibit hall, leaving plenty of space for other vendors such as 7 Bucks a Pop, Figpin, and Toddland. While the major toy companies generally skip the Anaheim show, Hasbro, McFarlane Toys, and Sideshow Collectibles did drop by to host panels for their upcoming product. Collectors would have to make do with slideshows rather than hands-on samples or prototypes since none of the aforementioned companies set up booths. Only Super 7 had a booth and they were only set up to sell merchandise rather than display future figures.

Hasbro announced a line of Iron Man figures based on the Marvel Action Hour animated series from the mid-90’s. Each figure will be displayed on a retro cardback and the line will include three versions of Iron Man, supervillains Whiplash and Count Nefaria, along with a classic She-Hulk. Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, and Zeb will be joining the 3 ¾” Vintage Collection while the Ithorian, Momaw Nadon aka Hammerhead, will be released as a deluxe Black Series figure. This gives us diehard fans a sliver of hope Hasbro might eventually make cult classic characters like Snaggletooth and Yakface in the 6 inch scale. One of the best selling action figure lines currently at retail is McFarlane’s DC Multiverse with Todd himself hosting the panel. Following the build-a-figure waves based on The Dark Knight and Batman & Robin, McFarlane will release a Batman Forever set featuring the Val Kilmer Batman, Chris O’Donnell Robin, Tommy Lee Jones Two-Face, and Jim Carrey Riddler. We’ll also see a massive Bat-Tumbler packaged with an exclusive Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. In addition to a plethora of Caped Crusaders, McFarlane proclaimed cult favorite heroes Ambush Bug and Sgt. Rock side by side with villains Captain Boomerang, Mr. Freeze, Sportsmaster, and a Super Powers-style Penguin. Finally, Jakks Pacific announced they acquired the Simpsons license and will produce a line of figurines and playsets starting with the main Simpsons family and their living room. Even better, they plan on releasing replicas of the killer Krusty doll from “Treehouse of Horror” and the Moe’s Tavern phone that will allow you to be prank called by Bart.

McFarlane Toys panel with Todd himself presenting new figures.

While previous Wondercons hosted panels to hype big blockbusters such as Battleship, Wonder Woman, and The Conjuring, Hollywood pretty much skipped the festivities this year. The arena sat unused with the largest panels taking place in the new North Tower. The highest profile production was the ultra-violent Boy Kills World starring Bill Skarsgard, who was not present at Wondercon. Instead, the panel was attended by producer Sam Raimi, director Moritz Mohr, and stars Famke Janssen, Jessica Rothe, Sharlto Copley, Isaiah Mustafa, and Brett Gelman.

Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s YA series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, receives a second life with a new streaming series following a 2008 film that failed to ignite a franchise. The Spiderwick show was originally produced for Disney+ before finding a new home with Roku. DiTerlizzi and Black were at the panel with cast members Christian Slater, Lyon Daniels, Mychala Lee, Noah Cottrell, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Alyvia Alyn Lind. Collider held a special directors panel with guests Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett), Wes Ball, and David Leitch. Each filmmaker took pre-recorded questions from other luminaries of the industry before giving the audience a preview of their upcoming projects. Radio Silence showed a clip from their horror flick Abigail, about a kidnapped girl who turns out to be a vampire. The clip saw the titular Abigail in full ballet regalia brutally assault her abductors with glee and grace. 

After great success with The Maze Runner series, Wes Ball moves to another huge franchise with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. The footage screened was spectacular as we follow the lead protagonist, Noa, is taken prisoner by a tribe of apes that have made their home in the remains of a massive cargo ship. Wondercon guests and Ball’s fellow panelists were in awe of the scope of the Apes film as well as the seamless special effects. Finally, Leitch stepped up to the plate with The Fall Guy, based on the 80’s TV series, with Ryan Gosling in the lead role of a stuntman turned bounty hunter. Leitch, a former stuntman himself before directing John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2, sees the film as a tribute to his profession. Leitch shut down the Sydney Harbour Bridge to shoot a wild scene in which Gosling skis on top of a metal sheet while holding onto a dumpster truck as it bops and weaves in and out of traffic.

Marvel’s merry mutants were well represented thanks to X-Men ’97 hype.

Even after the exhibit hall has closed, it was common for the exterior of the convention center to still be a lively event with music, impromptu dance parties, food trucks, and cosplayers posting for photos. Unfortunately, high winds and intermittent rain put a dampener on the festivities. While the outside felt like a ghost town, the majority of attendees congregated in the lobby without the blaring boomboxes.

Wondercon will return to the city of Anaheim on March 28 through 30, 2025.

For more Wondercon, check out my online gallery on Flickr.

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