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Comic-Con Comes to Gotham

The city that launched the caped careers of a thousand superheroes finally has a shot at morphing back into a golden-age Gotham.

The arrival of the three-day New York Comic-Con at the Jacob Javits Convention Center Friday is a homecoming of sorts for the comic book community, which has gone decades without a major convention in the town where the industry was basically born.

It exploded during the mid-1930s when Detective Comics launched Superman and followed it up about a year later with Batman.

In fact, the ties between New York and the worlds portrayed in comic books are so deep, the city appears in nearly all Marvel comic books and is the inspiration for DC's Gotham and Metropolis.

"We use New York as the canvas on which we paint all of our stories. It's the most important thing in the Marvel universe — almost more important than Spider-Man because it appears in almost every book, so we're really rooting for a New York show. It's important for the industry, and it's important for our fans," says Marvel Comics' Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.

The first conventions devoted to the hobby also began in New York City and became most popular during the 1970s before financial woes forced the shows into other cities.

"The first comic conventions in New York were the first ones, period," says DC Comics' President Paul Levitz. "The New York cons probably peaked through the '70s and sort of faded out in the early 1980s, when the tourist business in New York got so strong that there wasn't a viable economic model for doing a comic convention here anymore."

Comic book company officials hope the New York show becomes an annual splash. The show will take up a whopping 90,000 square feet of the convention center.

"This is really a consumer festival about pop culture," says Greg Topalian, director of the New York Comic-Con's show. "Comics are the backdrop, but this is going to cover video games, collectible card games, anime, movies and TV."

More than 200 exhibitors, ranging from toy makers and movie studios to comic book publishers, are slated to attend. Thousands of fans will have a chance to screen trailers for upcoming blockbusters or watch highly anticipated sci-fi TV programs on big screens.

Attendees will be treated to movie trailers from, among others, "Superman Returns" and "X-Men 3." Ultravixen Milla Jovovich, star of the new flick "Ultraviolet," has already been confirmed, as well as a trailer from the new Richard Linklater film "A Scanner Darkly."

Other elements of the show include a huge arcade where visitors will get to try the newest video games and enter tournaments. Panel discussions featuring industry luminaries will give fans a chance to interact with some of the most creative minds in the business.