Ah, Raleigh. City of Oaks. Site of legendary rivalries like Tobacco Road. Or General Assembly vs. Governor. On the last weekend in July, as a week-long storm front rolled into town, the capital city was taken over by Klingons, Avengers, Power Rangers, Ricks and Mortys, Batmen, Batgirls, and any video game character you can think of.
Yes, Raleigh Supercon was back in town.
It was the second year for this offshoot of the venerable Florida Supercon, which is held in Fort Lauderdale. I’ve written about my 2016 trip to that convention, which was terrific. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, though.
Miami, FL metro population: 5.5. million
Raleigh, NC metro population: 1.2 million
See what I mean? Plus Florida has a plethora of other tourist attractions. What else were people going to see in Raleigh–Silent Sam’s blood (and ink) bath?
Guess I should have done my research. Some 30,000 showed up for last year’s inaugural con, which means I shouldn’t have worried. This year’s total hit 35,000. That was the size of Dragon Con when I first went.
Walking into the convention center–on a Friday!–I was impressed with the crowd size.
Props to Supercon for getting some stellar guests. William Shatner, Alice Cooper, Ralph Macchio, Catherine Tate, John Barrowman, and Henry Winkler were among the lineup. Being a Doctor Who devotee, I made for Catherine Tate as soon as I arrived.
The wait was lengthy, but I got the treat of watching her delight in the fans. She stood in front of her table, not behind, and when people wanted selfies ($40, natch), Catherine took control of their phone, snapping one picture after another amid duck faces, mouses, half-smiles, squinches, and the occasional expressionless stare.
I opted for an autograph instead, unspooling my poster and pointing to where she should sign. We spent a minute discussing which Sharpie to use. I didn’t care; I just wanted to hear her Bloomsbury accent. I asked her if this was her first time in North Carolina, and she said it was. I should have asked her thoughts on barbecue, which David Tennant was hit with when he visited Raleigh in 2015. Finally, I gathered my poster, thanked her, and walked away. From behind me, I heard an unmistakable, “All right, love.” Swoon.
Another highlight was the Karate Kid/Cobra Kai panel with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the YouTube Red series Cobra Kai when I first heard about it, yet I decided to give it a try.
Best. Reboot Ever.
Actually, of course, it’s a continuation more than a reboot, focusing on All Valley rivals Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence as middle-aged dads. Daniel is lit, while there are amoebae with fuller lives than Johnny. I watched all 10 episodes in a single day. The three actors discussed how the series began, and they reached into their memory banks to answer audience questions about the original movie. Zabka’s demeanor was exactly like Johnny’s in Cobra Kai: what you see is what you get. Macchio seemed to have embraced his Daniel role about 95%. A little distrust was evident, or maybe it was weariness, though he tried to conceal it.
The most affable one was the villainous John Kreese, which isn’t surprising. Who would you rather hang with, Batman or the Joker?
Conventions of this size often suffer from the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. I saw this when I picked up my press badge and was handed a small square of paper with contact information. The guy pointed to one person’s cell number and said, “If you’d like to arrange any guest interviews, call this person.” Naturally, when I called, I was told it was too late to arrange interviews.
Otherwise, Raleigh Supercon was well organized, delightful, and a lot of fun. I hope to see you there next year!