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Too Many Spider-Men, Too Little Time: Get Ready for Comic-Con

Fans, authors, artists, film stars and directors are about to descend on San Diego for their annual fandango of comic-book nerdery. What will this year’s Comic-Con feature?

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Comic-Con International will soon descend on San Diego. The invasion of comic-book fans, artists, film-makers, writers and nerdy devoteds kicks off on Wednesday July 24, and doesn’t end until the mass evacuation of the city on Sunday the 27. Expect superheroes, aliens, White Walkers, and masses of marketing people.

This year fans can look forward to more from AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Disney has a new animated series Star Wars Rebels. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is bound to make an appearance in some form, though it’s set for a 2016 release. Constantine—based on the comic ‘Hellblazer’—is being screened (it can’t be any worse than the 2005 movie). And Starz just picked up Neil Gaiman’s American Gods though it’s doubtful they’ll have anything to show. There will be buzz around The Avengers: Age of Ultron .

Comic-Con is now a huge pop culture phenomena and major money maker for San Diego. Gone are the days when a few rows of vendors hawked books to hardcore fans. Tickets sell out as soon as they go on sale (in March), and downtown hotels are booked solid, unless you want to pay over $500 a night for a 2 star. If you haven’t booked ahead, start planning for next year, find a Con in another city or just turn up for the side show.

You never know what will happen or who you’ll run into on the streets of San Diego during the con. Danny Trejo (Machette, Bad Ass) could serve you tacos from a food truck. Your peddie-cab driver will probably be dressed as Batman or Wonder Woman, you’re bound to shuffle into a zombie at some point and the guy that looks like Dr. Who, probably is.

Back in the early days of the Con, before nerds and weirdos were cool, writer Grant Morrison saw a single costume-clad Superman, his red cape billowing behind, fleeing a pack of drunk Marines out for blood. Now the streets are filled with colorful characters. There are the enthusiastic fans, as well as girls in mini skirts with abundant cleavage promoting the latest TV series.

Once content to find a X-Men Calendar or a signed drawing of The Tick, fans now expect—and get—a whole lot more. Action figures, video games, Anime, artist signings, film screenings, panel discussions, award ceremonies, a Masquerade where fan-made costumes are judged. A-listers like ‘Iron Man’ Robert Downey Jr and ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Norman Reedus send fans into a frenzy.

Comic-Con has become part of the Hollywood hype machine. A-listers invade from LA. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship. The fans love it, and the creators have a hardcore test audience.

Hall H is where the major announcements happen. It’s a huge 6,500-seat space that fills to capacity. Fans wait in line for hours to be able to see their favorite directors and actors show and tell their latest project. This is where you’ll find Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman. One year Johnny Depp put in a surprise appearance. Girls screamed and bum-rushed the stage. The next event in Hall H was for ‘Twilight’ so it’s reasonable to assume Depp was an appetizer for Robert Pattinson.

Comic-Con has itself become fodder for film. Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: a Fan’s Hope is an homage to the convention. The movie Paul (dynamic duo Nick Frost and Simon Pegg with uber-nerd Seth Rogan) uses Comic-Con as a starting point for a road trip to Area 51.

With many events yet to be announced, the buzz surrounding Comic-Con has already begun. It’s a four-day pick-your-best-adventure, and so expect lines as long as Disneyland on a summer’s day. But no matter: the giant spectacle that is Comic-Con International is definitely the best convention of the year.