The world-famous Comic-Con International: San Diego took place recently. You can be forgiven if you didn't notice.
The venerable SDCC, once home to the biggest comics, movie and TV news on the planet, was attended only virtually on July 22-25. The ultra celebration of geekdom, which used to consistently draw 100,000 or better every year, had a population of zero. For the second year in a row.
It's because of COVID-19, of course. With delta surging, few might have attended even if the San Diego Convention Center had thrown open its doors. But that's not all. Even a virtual lineup could have its moments, as the show did last year. This year, Comic-ConHome was without its two biggest guns: Disney (home of Marvel Studios) and Warner Bros. (where the DC Extended Universe hangs its cape).
Marvel last made a public splash at, of all places, Disney's Investor Day on Dec. 10 of last year. The Mouse released tons of information about Disney, Pixar and LucasFilm. The show's climax was Marvel Studios dropping various content bombs about its Phase 4 plans, which began with "WandaVision" and will continue into 2023.
DC Comics, meanwhile, also retreated from this year's big show, planning its own free, online, 24-hour convention on Oct. 16 called DC Fandome. So this year's con was absent much of the usual razzle-dazzle. Which isn't all bad: Without the summer blockbusters grabbing all the headlines, some smaller shows got a little love. Here are my favorites:
'Doctor Who': I became a Whovian late and have many Doctors to catch up on, but I don't know if any could ever be as much fun as the current one, played by Jodie Whittaker. So I've been missing the Tardis, as new "Doctor Who" hasn't graced the airwaves since the New Year's Day episode "Revolution of the Daleks."
Season 13 will begin "sometime this year," we're told. A new Companion, Dan Lewis (John Bishop), will join the Doctor and Yaz (Mandip Gill). And one of their antagonists will be a character played by Jacob Anderson, who was Grey Worm on "Game of Thrones." That's two things I didn't know before, and now I do.
'Lucifer': Here's another DC show that doesn't follow the rules. In the comics, Neil Gaiman wrote a deep and complicated fallen angel whose actions and motivations were always murky and complex. Naturally, when they created a TV show for this character, they jettisoned all that, made him playful and shallow, and turned the whole thing into a police procedural.
It's TV. It's what they do. Amazingly, and mainly thanks to lead Tom Ellis, "Lucifer" has been a blast. SDCC informs us that the sixth and final season is coming to Netflix Sept. 10. I guess I should mention that the last season ended on a cliffhanger ... with Lucifer replacing God (Dennis Haysbert), who has retired.
Here comes the new boss, same as the old ... uh, no. Not really.
Comic-Con: The Sequel: There's more, but that should give you an idea of what this year's SDCC was like. It seems to me that small doesn't necessarily mean worse.
Better yet, SDCC isn't giving up on a live-action gathering. A small (for San Diego) convention is planned for Nov. 26-28 at the Convention Center.
Yeah, that's Thanksgiving weekend, which is either a great idea or a terrible one. I guess we'll find out. If you're interested, keep an eye on the con's website, comic-con.org.