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COMIC - CON WATCH

Lives long, prospers

'Star Wars,' Superman and -- surprise, Mr. Spock at the 38th annual Comic-Con, which sets an attendance record.

July 28, 2007|Times staff writers Geoff Boucher, Sheigh Crabtree and Jevon Phillips.

Highlights from Comic-Con, the annual celebration of all things pop culture, at the San Diego Convention Center through Sunday. For updates through the weekend, go to latimes.com/entertainment/news.

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The world's largest pop-culture event is getting bigger all the time -- the International Comic-Con in San Diego had its first weekday sellout in its 38-year-history on Friday.

The convention is already sold out for today, and, with 130,000 fans expected for the weekend, the event that began as a scruffy swap shop for comic-book collectors is reaching critical mass.

"I've been here for every one; I'm one of the dinosaurs," merchant Robert Beerbahm said Friday. "I don't know how much bigger it can get. But if you want to know about movies and video games or buy comics and toys, you have to come."

The theme for the day was "Star Wars," which explains why the crowd was peppered with stormtroopers, wookies and Sith lords.

Over here, in the back!

During a slightly awkward mini-panel, Ed Burns and Shannyn Sossamon showed a clip from their new movie, "One Missed Call," an English-language adaptation of the Japanese film.

Sossamon seemed unnerved by the crowd. Burns tried to keep it light, but the audience didn't seem familiar with the film and didn't have many questions about it. At the end of the session, Sossamon announced that she and Burns were giving away iPhones to audience members who asked questions.

Needless to say, they finished on a high note.

Better watch your back

"Superman: Doomsday" delivered.

The first in DC's new line of direct-to-DVD movies, the animated film adapts the "Death of Superman" story that remains the bestselling single issue in comics history. Fans of knockdown, drag-out super battles will not be disappointed: the Man of Steel's fight with Doomsday has lots of vicious hits, which pulled groans and gasps from the crowd. Lex Luthor's evil (James Marsters' attitude) was on display and also registered with the crowd. In one scene, Lex figures out a cure for muscular dystrophy but withholds it to make a profit later, saying, "Oh, well. Jerry's Kids will have to wait."

Speaking of Superman

Plenty of actors have been the Caped Crusader through the years, but Adam Baldwin is the first one to do a death scene. "It's pretty intense," Baldwin said Friday by phone.He couldn't make it to Comic-Con for the premiere but explained that for the role in "Superman: Doomsday," "the main thing I tried to do was be consistent and not over-act or try to take him too far in any direction. To me, Superman is 'truth, justice and the American way.' I'm from the Midwest. I think that's why they picked me."

Hey! Is that Mr. Spock?

One of the biggest surprises so far at Comic-Con has to be Leonard Nimoy strolling out onstage to thunderous applause during the Paramount Pictures panel on the new "Star Trek" film.

The film, to be directed and produced by J.J. Abrams, follows the iconic crew members of the USS Enterprise during their early years in Starfleet. Who will play "young" Spock for the film? Zachary Quinto of "Heroes." The crowd clearly approved.

Then Abrams playfully told the audience he had another casting revelation and he brought out Nimoy.

Apparently the film will have a framing device with the older Spock. Nimoy told the crowd the movie has a "fantastic" script and a "great director." He added: "People keep asking me why I'm doing this movie. The answer is, well, it was logical."

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