October 10, 2022
by Carla Hay
Culture Mix was on the scene at the 2022 edition of the fan convention New York Comic Con, held October 6 to October 9 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Here are some of the highlights.
“Star Trek” Universe
On October 8, the “Star Trek” Universe panel (for the current “Star Trek” shows on Paramount+) was one of the most highly anticipated panels at New York Comic Con, because it revealed a few new trailers and confirmed what fans have been requesting for years: a reunion of the “Star Trek: Next Generation” cast.
“Star Trek: Next Generation” fan faves LeVar Burton and Michael Dorn were among the former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast members (along with Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, and Brent Spiner) who joined star Patrick Stewart to announce that they will all be reunited in the third and final season of “Star Trek: Picard.” Former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” co-star Daniel Davis (who was not at the panel) will also be part of this reunion. In Season 3 of “Star Trek: Picard” (premiering on February 16, 2023), the heroes will contend with a new villain named Vadic (played by Amanda Plummer), an alien captain of the warship Shrike. Beyond that, the cast members kept saying on the panel that they couldn’t reveal any spoiler details, although some tidbits of new information were discussed.
Burton said that his “Star Trek” character Geordi La Forge is now “happily married with two daughters.” Elder daughter Sidney La Forge (played by Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) is an ensign and helmsman of the U.S.S. Titan. Younger daughter Alandra La Forge (played by Mica Burton, LeVar’s real-life daughter) is an ensign who works alongside Geordi. LeVar pointed out Mica in the audience, who enthusiastically cheered for her. LeVar said of daughter Mica being part of this cast reunion: “She grew up around all of these fine folks, so to have her as a member of the cast and a member of the family is pretty cool.”
Dorn, who’s played the character of Worf in several “Star Trek” TV shows and movies, said of the journey that Worf will take in this reunion: “I was very fortunate that the producers incorporated our ideas of where he’s going to be, and where he’s going to go. There’s a lot of things that they wanted to keep, and there’s a lot of things that they actually convinced me to change about the character.”
“Star Trek: Discovery” made history in 2017, for being the first “Star Trek” TV series to have a woman of color as the captain of the ship. Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays lead character Michael Burnham on the show, joined the “Star Trek: Discovery” team virtually from video linkup on the show’s TV set in Toronto. The show’s fifth season (which premieres in 2023, on a date to be announced) will feature the spaceship team going on a mystery quest to find an ancient hidden power.
Martin-Green, who respectfully acknowledged the passing of original “Star Trek” star Nichelle Nichols (who died on July 30, at the age of 89), said that the “Star Trek: Discovery” team is like a second family to her. She also commented on the show’s fifth season: “I really do give respect to the writers for this season, because we really do dig deeper than we ever have.”
Wilson Cruz (an Afro-Latino actor who plays Dr. Hugh Culber) and Anthony Rapp (a white actor who plays Paul Stamets) are both openly gay and friends in real life, and they portray an openly gay couple on “Star Trek: Discovery.” Rapp said his role on “Star Trek: Discovery” role was offered to him like a gift.
Cruz said, “I had the exact opposite experience. I chased [the role] down like a rabid dog, because it fit so neatly with my world perspective.” Cruz commented on the show’s diversity in its cast members: “This is what the cast of anything should look like. It should look like the world we live in.”
The “Star Trek” Universe panel also featured a segment for the animated series “Star Trek: Prodigy,” with Black actor Brett Gray and his co-stars Kate Mulgrew and Jameela Jamil. “Star Trek: Prodigy” will have its Season 2 mid-season premiere on October 27, 2022.
New TV Series
Netflix’s “The Midnight Club” is a horror series that debuted on October 7, and immediately trended in the Top 10 on Netflix. The show’s first episode had its world premiere at New York Comic Con on October 6 before launching into the Q&A part of the show’s panel. “The Midnight Club” (which is set in the mid-1990s) has a racially diverse ensemble cast, but the show is told from the perspective of a main character who happens to be Black. Ilonka (played by Iman Benson) is a studious and intelligent orphan, who lives in California, finds out she has cancer, abandons her plans to go to Stanford University, and decides to live at the unconventional Brightcliffe Hospice, a facility for other teens and young adults with terminal illnesses.
Ilonka joins a clique of patients who secretly gather every midnight to tell each other scary stories, while the hospice has some sinister secrets that are revealed. The other Black people in “The Midnight Club” cast include Annarah Cymone as introverted Sandra, William Chris Sumpter as flamboyant Chris Spencer, and Adia (no last name) as dishonest Cheri, who all portray Brightcliffe patients.
During the show’s New York Comic Con panel, Benson said that she originally thought that the most difficult scene for her to do in the show would be in the first-episode scene where Ilonka finds out that she had cancer. “I wanted to make sure it was depicted authentically and done justice.” However, Benson commented that filming scenes in a later episode was more challenging for her, because “we’re dealing with terminal illness, and we end up losing [one of the characters on the show].”
The animated series “Transformers: EarthSpark,” which premieres November 11 on Paramount+, is about an African American family who adopts the first Transformers robots born on Earth. The voice cast includes Benni Latham as matriarch Dot Malto, and Jon Jon Briones as patriarch Alex Malto. Voicing the characters of Dot and Alex’s two kids are Sydney Mikayla as 13-year-old boy Robby Malto and Zion Broadnax as 9-year-old girl Morgan “Mo” Malto.
Mikyala and Broadnax were among the “Transformers: EarthSpark” cast members who were on the show’s October 9 panel at New York Comic Con. The panel included the world premiere of the first episode of “Transformers: EarthSpark,” which shows how rebellious Robby tried to run away from home, and instead he and Mo discovered two Transformers (space alien robots that can turn into vehicles) that eventually get adopted by the Malto family. The Transformers adoptees are named Twitch (voiced by Kathreen Khavari) and Thrash (voiced by Zeno Robinson), who are both Terran siblings. Also in the series are heroic leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Alan Tudyk)’ adventurous hero Bumblebee (voiced by Danny Pudi); villain Megatron (voiced by Rory McCann), Optimus Prime sidekick Elita-1 (voiced by Cissy Jones); and villain Mandroid (voiced by Diedrich Bader).
“Kindred,” which is based on Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 sci-fi novel, tells the story of an aspiring screenwriter named Dana James (played by Mallori Johnson), who finds herself transported back and forth between modern-day L.A. and a pre-Civil War 1800s plantation in the South. “Kindred” will debut on FX on Hulu on December 13.
On October 9, attendees of the “Kindred” panel at New York Comic Con got to see an exclusive 17-minute clip from the show, followed by a Q&A with showrunner Branden Jacob-Jenkins and members of the cast. In the clip, which was from the first “Kindred” episode, Dana has just moved to L.A. and begins dating a white musician named Kevin Franklin (played by Micah Stock), who is intrigued and somewhat amused that Dana wants to write for soap opera TV shows. Dana has her first harrowing time-travel experience on the first night that she spends with Kevin in her new home.
On this mystery plantation, Dana encounters unfriendly matriarch Margaret Weylin (played by Gayle Rankin) and saves Margaret’s young son Rufus (David Alexander Kaplan) from drowning. Black characters in the “Kindred” series include Luke (played by Austin Smith), Sarah (played by Sophina Brown), and Olivia (played by Sheria Irving), who are enslaved characters on the show.
“Kindred” filmed in Georgia, and the cast members talked about although they had camaraderie while making the show, they also felt the weight and sadness of knowing that they were filming on land that used to have plantations involved in America’s shameful history of slavery. Johnson nearly choked up with tears when she said there were times on the “Kindred” set where she thought, “Oh my God, I can feel the presence of my ancestors here. It’s devastating. It’s jarring.”
The Disney Channel animated series “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” (based on the comic book series of the same name) centers on 13-year-old genius Lunella Lafayette, also known as Moon Girl (voiced by Diamond White), who accidentally brings a 10-ton T-Rex, also known as Devil Dinosaur (voiced by Fred Tatasciore), from ancient times to modern-day New York City, where she lives. Together with Lunella’s best friend/manager Casey (voiced by Libbe Barer), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur go on a mission to protect their neighborhood from harm.
“Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” (which is already renewed for a second season) will premiere on February 10, 2023, the same date that the show’s first soundtrack will be released. Episodes will also be available on Disney+ after airing on Disney Channel. The voice cast includes Alfre Woodard as Lunella’s grandmother, Mimi; Libe Sasheer Zamata as Lunella’s mother, Adria; Jermaine Fowler as Lunella’s father, James Jr.; Gary Anthony Williams as Lunella’s grandfather, Pops; and series executive producer Laurence Fishburne in the recurring role of The Beyonder, a mysterious trickster.
Raphael Saadiq is the show’s executive music producer and chief songwriter/composer. On October 8, Saadiq and White were at “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” panel at New York Comic Con, where White performed “Moon Girl Magic,” the show’s theme song. Black people who are guest stars in the show’s first season include “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Cruz, Daveed Diggs, Jennifer Hudson, Dr. Mae Jemison, Indya Moore, Craig Robinson, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Wesley Snipes, and Tajinae Turner.
“Spawn” Movie Adds Screenwriters
The “Spawn” movie remake starring Jamie Foxx has been talked about and in development for years. “Spawn” creator/Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane, who had his own spotlight panel on October 7 at New York Comic Con, gave some updates on the movie. (McFarlane even played some brief and recent voice mail messages from Foxx to prove that Foxx is still committed and enthusiastic about the project.) McFarlane is still producing the movie, but he’s no longer writing and directing it. Instead, McFarlane says that the “Spawn” movie’s new director will be announced at a later date.
At New York Comic Con, McFarlane commented on the announcement that screenwriters Scott Silver, Malcolm Spellman, and Matthew Mixon have been hired to co-write a new “Spawn” screenplay. Spellman and Mixon are African American. Oscar-nominated Silver is the co-writer of 2019’s “Joker” and 2024’s “Joker: Folie à Deux.” Spellman’s screenwriting credits include the TV series “Bel-Air,” “Empire,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and the 2024 movie “Captain America: New World Order.” Mixon is a relative newcomer, with just two feature-length films (the 2016 documentary “Yesterday Was Everything” and the 2022 documentary “The Milwaukee Project”) so far as a filmmaker.
McFarlane said, “There’s diversity in our characters and the story. And we feel that we need voices from all different quarters.” What hasn’t changed is that McFarlane says that he wants this “Spawn” remake to be a movie franchise and one of the few comic-book-based movie series that is intended to be rated R. At the panel, McFarlane also showed some preview art for the “Batman/Spawn” crossover limited comic-book series, which is set for release on December 13, 2022.