2013 Phoenix Comicon: Thursday – Leagues, leotards and love
Love was in the air at Phoenix Comicon 2013 during its Thursday (or Thor’s Day might be more appropriate) opening night festivities; and I don’t mean just the crowds of pop culture enthusiasts’ adoration of all things comic, sci-fi and fantasy related. To wrap up the evening, the PUGS (Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown) competition was capped with a nerd-style marriage proposal.
Doors opened at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, but anxious attendees started picking up their badges as early as noon, and within a couple of hours there were already hundreds of people in line to be the first ones into the “southwest’s signature pop culture event.”
(See photo gallery for Thursday at the bottom of this post.)
Some of the highlights encountered Thursday evening included incredibly cool photo opportunities. The Justice League of Arizona has set-up a giant-sized JLA comic cover you can pose in front of and a replica of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. (I can tell you that the JLA’s Superman was none too pleased that Spider-Man was seen inside his secret hideout.)
The 501st Legion Dune Sea Garrison has also created an amazing Star Wars photo-op area, complete with a Mos Eisley Bar and a Greedo bar stall (where there is no question about who shoots first.) The Chambers of Fear Haunted House exhibit also has a very fun photo area; so the bottom line is, if you’re headed out to the Con, do NOT forget your camera.
The exhibition floor this year appears to have been expanded to allow for more vendors and a little more space for the attendees to walk between all of the genre goodness. The crowds on Thursday evening steadily increased from the opening at 4:00 p.m. through the exhibit floor’s closing at 9:00 p.m. Take note that the exhibition hall closes at 7:00 pm. Friday & Saturday and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Another highlight of the evening was the first look at the Steampunk Village, which is showcasing a very large vintage robotic diving suit created by The Foundry. The always captivating Katherine Stewart of Desert Rose Theatre was also on hand at the village to charm the curious con-goers.
The evening was finished off with what has become one of the must-see events of the convention, the first round of the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS). This show is coordinated by host Jeff Moriarty of Ignite Phoenix, Jonathan Simon of Lightning Octopus, the Midnite Movie Mamacita and Dr. Diabolic.
The rules of PUGS are that two contestants are given a random geeky topic to debate, with no prior knowledge of what the subject matter will be. The host assigns the competitors a side to defend and they are each given an opportunity to make an opening and closing statement, with a lively debate in-between. The audience then picks a winner who will go on the PUGS finale. Here’s a rundown of Thursday’s competition:
Who is the better superhero team, the JLA or the Avengers?
Bradford argued that despite being handicapped by Aquaman, the JLA has proven its superiority by the multiple times in which they have saved the world. Nico defended the Avengers by noting that their roster includes an actual God.
Winner: Nico with The Avengers.
Which are the more useless henchmen, Storm Troopers from Star Wars, or Monarch’s #21 and #24?
Christopher defended the Storm Troopers by noting that their marksmanship is terrible and that they clearly have visibility issues. Peter countered that the Monarch’s henchmen have to wear tights, use rubber-band shooters and no one even knows who they are.
Winner: Peter with the Monarch’s henchmen.
Which is the better van-based problem-solving team, the Mystery Machine or the A-Team?
Ben claimed the Mystery Machine better represents diversity, including the inter-species variety, and that no one on the A-Team is awesome enough to wear one of Fred’s outfits. Shawn defended the A-Team by saying that Mr. T alone makes their side a more diverse team, plus they have a cooler theme song.
Winner: Shawn with the A-Team.
Which is the more badass butler, Jarvis or Alfred?
Chris defended Jarvis by claiming that he was built by Tony Stark and can perform his duties almost anywhere Tony is. He also offered that eventually Alfred will die, whereas Jarvis can potentially live forever. Scott positioned that Alfred maintains the Bat Cave and he raised Bruce Wayne, and that without his assistance the Batman would be completely psychotic.
Winner: Scott with Alfred.
Who is the sexier senior-citizen, Sean Connery or Patrick Stewart?
Miguel offered that even though The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie sucked, Connery was still sexy in it; and though there have been several actors who have portrayed James Bond, Connery is still the one who is most identified with the role. John countered that Patrick Stewart’s sexiness brought Star Trek back from the dead and that he even makes a guy in a wheelchair look sexy.
Winner: John with Patrick Stewart.
Which has the more effective prosthetic weapon, Merle from The Walking Dead, or Ash from Evil Dead?
Jake sided with Ash saying you can’t chop people up with a robotic hand that will most likely malfunction, and that when used properly a chainsaw hand can even snap a bra-strap. Ariel defended Merle by noting that the chainsaw is likely to run out of gas and that girls would be terrified by it.
Winner: Jake with Ash.
Are spoilers good or bad?
Mara concluded that spoilers are bad because they ruin things that people would rather find out for themselves. Mike countered that life is too short and people should take their destiny into their own hands. If someone had told him about Attack of the Clones beforehand, he could have saved two-hours of his life.
Winner: Mike with spoilers are good.
Which is more fun to play, Magic the Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons?
Anthony charged that Magic is easy to play and easy to learn and can be played anywhere; he also enjoys the thrill of bringing an opponent to tears in 6 cards or less. Defending PUGS Champion, Richard Mansfield argued that with D&D one can create their own story and a character you develop yourself has potential to live forever.
Winner: Richard with D&D.
After the final round of PUGS, Richard was asked to stay behind to face-off in a bonus round against Lightning Octopus, Jonathan Simon. But this was just a ruse to set up defending champ’s girlfriend, who was suddenly asked to replace Jonathon on the stage. In front of the standing room only crowd, the geek champion then asked his girlfriend to marry him; and with a friend reenacting the famous boombox scene from Say Anything… she said, “Yes!” And it was a perfect way to end the evening.
Attention parents with children – For Friday – Sunday, the non-profit group Kids Need to Read will be sponsoring a free “Build-a-Book” event with renowned children’s author & illustrator, Steven Riley. Three times per day, at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, your child can help build a book from scratch with Mr. Riley. You must sign-up in advance at the Kids Need to Read booth #459 and up to 24 children can participate in each session, which lasts approximately 1-hour. It’s a great opportunity for your child to get excited about the literary arts. Also, don’t forget to check out the Kids Need to Read art auction at booth #465.
Phoenix Comicon 2013: Thursday’s Photo Gallery