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Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo celebrates, Chicago-style

'Nightwing'  |  Courtesy DC Entertainment

"Nightwing" | Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2)

♦ April 26-28

♦ McCormick Place West,
2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

♦ Tickets, $25-$65

♦ c2e2.com

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Updated: May 28, 2013 7:32PM



Holy relocation, Batman! Nightwing (aka Dick Grayson, the original Robin) has left Gotham and is currently fighting crime in the Windy City.

“Dick’s just learned that Tony Zucco, the mobster who murdered his parents, is in fact very much alive and living under an alias in Chicago,” book writer Kyle Higgins said. “So Dick takes a sublet apartment in Wicker Park and begins to hunt for him.”

Higgins is a New York Times best-selling author, who grew up in Homer Glen. He’ll be talking with fans and signing autographs all weekend long at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, the elaborate pop culture convention that spans all things comic books, anime, manga, video games, movies, television and related toys.

Hundreds of exhibitors and panels will be featured in the event, which will run from April 26-28 at McCormick Place West in Chicago.

For those who haven’t been following the comic book happenings of Mr. Grayson: He’s tired of living in the shadow of the Dark Knight; has ditched the Robin costume; created his own crime-fighting hero, Night-wing; and took to fighting crime in the fictional Bludhaven, a neighboring city to Gotham.

Grayson made the big move two weeks ago in “Nightwing No. 19” (DC Comics, $2.99) and in one memorable panel can even be seen giving new meaning to the term “turnstile jumping” when he leaps off a building and onto a moving Blue Line train car.

“I really like that image because he’s smiling and it’s the first time in a long time that he’s done that,” Higgins said.

Chicago often has filled in for Gotham City on film and while a handful of DC characters have fought crime in Chicago before, none has ever called Chicago home.

“Both [book artist] Brett Booth and I knew we wanted to explore a city that exists in real life. Nightwing previously fought crime in New York. I didn’t want to use it. It’s been overused,” Higgins said. “With Chicago, there is an aesthetic and a feel to city that is unique — a personality if you will — and that hasn’t been explored in comics all that much.”

It isn’t the first time that Higgins has paid homage to his hometown, either. While enrolled in film school, Higgins received accolades for his student film “The League,” a noir set in the 1960s about a union of superheroes in Chicago.

Though he is using a real city in the comic book, purists should be warned: This is still a work of fiction.

“I’m trying to be as faithful to the city as I can. Brett and I are using as many real locations as we can,” Higgins said. “Still, this is the DC Universe’s version of Chicago.”

Future issues will feature a nice exchange on the top of the Congress Plaza Hotel, at Soldier Field and in the Chicago Loop. Higgins said this isn’t merely hometown pride.

“For me, it’s about taking places and locations that suit the story,” he said. “The fact that I grew up here and used to think, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if a superhero could have been here?’ is beside the point.”

Though the character himself states that he sees his time in Chicago as being temporary, Nightwing may find himself sticking around a lot longer than even he originally intended.

“He’s initially here to find Zucco, but the story goes beyond that,” Higgins said. “Brett and I really wanted to explore why there aren’t any masked superheroes in Chicago. Our premise is that there used to be, but they are now all dead and Nightwing will have to unravel that mystery in future issues.”

As for the likelihood of other famous superheroes and villains popping in for a visit, Higgins said it’s looking pretty good.

“I can’t reveal anything yet, but yes, he’ll be entertaining a few out-of-town guests,” Higgins said. “For a city that’s never had a superhero to call its own, Chicago may soon have more than its share.”

♦ ♦ ♦

While DC’s rival may not have anything as showy as a Chicago-set story arc, that doesn’t mean Marvel doesn’t have anything to tantalize its legion of fans.

On screen, “Iron Man 3” hits movie theaters May 3 and should keep the excitement created by 2012’s blockbuster “The Avengers” burning.

Within the pages of the comic books, the superhero team of Avengers has just finished an all-out civil war with another Marvel super group, the X-Men. The two groups are attempting to bury the hatchet by creating a new group, the Uncanny Avengers. In addition to Captain America and Thor, the roster also includes Wolverine, the Scarlet Witch and others.

The Uncanny Avengers book writer Rick Remender will be at C2E2 all weekend to talk about his series, which first published in fall.

“For the fans, the book features a lineup of heroes we’re unlikely to ever see on film,” Remender said. “The characters are licensed by different film studios, but fortunately I don’t have that problem.”

In assembling the new team, Remender had a wish list of heroes, of course. He said he didn’t get every character he wanted — at least not yet.

“I really wanted Storm, but the editors told me she was already in too many books.”

The team is currently battling Red Skull, the Nazi villain last seen on film in “Captain America.”

“He’s really the perfect villain for the book,” Remender said. “He’s someone trying to cleanse the mutant plague from the Earth. Of course, he won’t stop there. Evil people will always use fear and hatred as a means of grabbing power.”

HUNTINGTON SET FOR NEXT SEASON OF ‘HUMAN’

Syfy’s hit series “Being Human” has a premise that almost sounds like a joke: A werewolf, a vampire and a ghost all share a flat in Boston. The show, which just wrapped its third season and already has been renewed for a fourth, is no laughing matter, though.

Sam Huntington, who plays Jewish werewolf Josh Levinson on the show, will be answering fans’ question on a panel at C2E2 at 8:15 p.m. April 26 and signing autographs all weekend at the convention. He spoke to Sun-Times Media about the show:

Question: What were your thoughts when you first saw the script?

Sam Huntington: It sounded like the setup for a joke, doesn’t it? I’m glad my agents didn’t tell me it was originally a British series because I probably would have passed on auditioning for it.

Q. Why is that?

SH: It’s very hard to adapt a great British TV series. Look at the British version of “The Office.” That is some of the best television ever produced. It is in a class all by itself and can’t be touched. When I heard they were remaking it for NBC, I was mortified. And yet, the U.S. version is also a very good TV show. But it is different. They are two different beasts. Fortunately for “Being Human,” the North American writers took that to heart. We did our due diligence in terms of honoring the British series especially in the first season. Now that we’ve just wrapped our third season, we are our own entity, though. And that is how it should be really.

Q. Have you watched the British version of your show?

SH: I waited until after we finished the first season. I didn’t want to have it influence anything. Russell Tovey [who plays werewolf George on the United Kingdom series] is a genius actor. I didn’t want my character of Josh to emulate anything he did as George, nor did I want to steer away from playing a scene a certain way if it was right for the character just because it was something that Russell had already done.

Q. Have the two casts met?

SH: Actually, no. We would love to meet that cast and give them a big hug. Meaghan [Rath, who plays Sally the Ghost], Sam [Witwer, the vampire Aiden] and I feel we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Q. Your character Josh was temporarily cured for the first part of this season. Did you miss the wolf aspect of him?

SH: I can’t say I missed the prosthetics. Honestly, the first thing I thought about: “Yes! I don’t have to spend all those hours in the makeup chair.” Five episodes into the season and I started to feel a bit uneasy. When Josh was no longer a supernatural being, he couldn’t see Sally anymore and as a human, he didn’t really have the supernatural connection to Aiden, either.

I felt disconnected from both Sam and Meaghan. And it was exactly what my character Josh was starting to feel. Being a werewolf is such a part of who he is. Without it, I missed it and Josh certainly missed it. Fortunately, Josh was scratched by another werewolf and cursed again.

Q. You are married in real life and your character just married on the show. Which wedding was easier?

SH: The wedding scene on the show was pretty brutal. We shoot two episodes back to back on the show. The wedding scene was shot at the end of a really long day. We had 15-20 minutes to shoot the whole scene.

It was just like theater. It was really heady. The last thing any one of us wanted to do is f--- it up. There is a crew of 90 people who had all been working what ended up being a really long day. The last thing you want to do is lose focus, flub a line and make the day even longer.

Q. Your character ended the season possibly trapped in wolf form. Any hints where the story is going to pick up in season four when the show returns next January?

SH: I wish! I know Sam and Meaghan have both bent the writers’ ears to find out what’s in store for their characters, but I haven’t yet. Is Josh stuck as a wolf? Is his new wolf more violent or more calm?

The fanboy in me really wants to know what’s going to happen. I’m very, very curious.

♦ Q&A panel with Sam Huntington, 8:15-9:15 p.m. April 26, Room W470B, McCormick Place West, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. Huntington also will sign autographs all weekend throughout the convention.

MUST-SEES AT C2E2

Five other things not to miss at this year’s C2E2:

♦ “Game of Thornes” Q&A Panel. Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) and James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont) will be taking all your questions about the hit HBO TV series from 4-5 p.m. April 28 in Room W471.

♦ Hungering for more of “The Hunger Games”? The Hunger Games costume exhibit features more than 200 costumes worn by “The Hunger Games” cast including Josh Hutcherson and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. Booth 1209.

(UPDATED 4/26) Citing “a fractured vertebrae,” Adam West has cancled his appearance at C2E2.

♦ Holy Bat-reunion! Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar (Batman, Robin and Catwoman, respectively) will reminisce about the 1960s “Batman” TV series in a Q&A panel from 2-3 p.m. April 27 in the IGN Theater.

♦ Vintage toy exhibit and auction. Whether you’re looking to add to your collection or just price that box of old toys your mom found in your attic, the vintage toy exhibit and auction should satisfy your curiosity with mint, in-box “Star Trek” action figures from the 1960s, one of the world’s largest “Star Wars” action figure collections, vintage comic books and more. Exhibit in Booth 1308. Auction from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 28 in Room W476.

♦ Actor, comic book writer and comedian Patton Oswalt (“Ratatouille,” “United States of Tara” and a guest turn on “Parks and Rec”) brings laughs to his panel from 12:30-1:30 p.m. April 27 in the IGN Theater.

Misha Davenport is a local freelance writer.



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