UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday revealed Fox was shaking up its superhero release dates, giving "Deadpool 2" an earlier start and pushing "New Mutants" into 2019.
ORIGINAL STORY: Iron your cape and buy yourself another longbox. A new year in this strange world where geek culture is ascendant means a host of new superhero movies and TV shows and no shortage of conventions designed with you in mind. And Stan Lee cameos. Lots of Stan Lee cameos.
Locally, the big nerd news this year is the expansion of Garden State Comic Fest to Atlantic City. Ocean City’s comic-con will return as well. And, of course, there’s Free Comic Book Day.
This year also sees the biggest Marvel movie yet in “Avengers: Infinity War,” as well as two movies from Fox’s X-Men franchise, two Spider-Man-adjacent films from Sony and a solo DC film from everyone’s favorite Atlantean.
Keep this calendar handy as you plan your con and movie budgets for the year.
Jan. 16: “Black Lightning”: The CW premieres its fifth, count ’em, fifth DC superhero show, about an older ex-crimefighter turned high school principal (Cress Williams) who comes out of retirement to protect his family and his city.
Feb. 16: “Black Panther”: Hail to the king! “Creed” director Ryan Coogler takes us to the techno-futurist African nation of Wakanda for the first of Marvel Studios’ three films this year. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.
March 8:“Jessica Jones” Season 2: Marvel’s hard-drinking, hard-hitting detective (Krysten Ritter) returns for 13 more episodes on Netflix. New seasons of “Luke Cage” and “Daredevil” are expected to follow later this year.
ATLANTIC CITY — Tickets for Garden State Comic Fest: AC Edition, a new comics convention ann…
April 7-8: Garden State Comic Fest, A.C. Edition
Where: Showboat Atlantic City
Tickets: $29.99 for Saturday only, $19.99 for Sunday only, $39.99 for both days, $90 for VIP tickets, free for children under 13.
Who’s going: Actor Eric Roberts (“The Dark Knight,” a number of Lifetime movies), voice actress Diane Pershing (Poison Ivy on “Batman: The Animated Series”), Cybertronic Spree (band that dresses up like and performs music from “Transformers”), Kevin Eastman (co-creator, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), artist Jim Steranko, Bob Camp (co-creator, Ren & Stimpy), illustrator Greg Hildebrandt, artist Jae Lee, artist Barry Kitson, local artist Bob Petrecca, artist Billy Tucci (creator, “Shi”), inker Bob Wiacek, local artist Joe del Beato, artist Jan Duursema, writer/letterer Joe Caramagna, artist Rags Morales, inker Scott Hanna and artists Tom Mandrake and Jim Balent
Why you should go: Atlantic City’s had some trouble getting a comic-con to stick. The Atlantic City Boardwalk Con lasted two years before its showrunner opted not to come back, and the Atlantic City Fan Xpo ran out of steam after a few weeks at the Showboat Atlantic City. This new show is an extension of an existing comic-con that has run out of Morristown for five years, and the showrunners, Dave O’Hare and Sal Zurzolo, also operate a cosplay convention in Morristown and a separate comics show at Six Flags Great Adventure. Put simply, they have a track record. A strong first year could go a long way toward giving A.C. the kind of stable, midsize con enjoyed by several other towns in New Jersey.
This year's Q-bee winners include a King and a guy who wears a crown, a Wonder Woman and a P…
April 14: Camden Comic Con
Why you should go: Winner of the 2017 Q-bee award for Best N.J. Con, Camden Comic Con is a free show held annually at the Rutgers Athletics and Fitness Center. Guests announced for 2018 so far include longtime Marvel writer Carl Potts; DC and Marvel artist Mark McKenna; Dorian Vallejo, artist and son of iconic sci-fi/fantasy illustrator Boris Vallejo; and artist Christine Larsen.
April 27-29: East Coast Comicon, Secaucus
May 4: “Avengers: Infinity War”: The culmination of 18 movies — from 2008’s “Iron Man” to February’s “Black Panther” — pits the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and every hero in between against the cosmic menace Thanos (Josh Brolin), who comes to Earth in search of the Infinity Stones.
May 5: Free Comic Book Day
Where: Level Up Entertainment, Hamilton Mall, Mays Landing
Tickets: What part of FREE don’t you understand?
Why you should go: Want to get into comics but don’t know where to start? Like free stuff? Free Comic Book Day, held the first Saturday in May since 2002, scratches both those itches, as publishers provide samplers, reprints and special issues of their books free to readers (Reminder: The books are not free to the retailers who carry them, so support your local comics shop). Level Up turns the mall into a mini comic-con on Free Comic Book Day, with guest creators, geek-friendly vendors, cosplay, giveaways and more.
May 17-20: Wizard World Philly
May 18: “Deadpool 2”: Ryan Reynolds pours himself back into the red leather suit for another round of comedy-soaked ultraviolence, this time with Josh Brolin’s time-traveling, telepathic mercenary Cable in tow. (At this point, all Brolin needs is a surprise cameo in “Aquaman” for the superhero-movie hat trick.)
May 25: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”: Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover get into space shenanigans as young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, respectively, in a “Star Wars” anthology story that switched directors partway through filming, from Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“21 Jump Street”) to Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”).
June 8-10: AnimeNext
Where: Atlantic City Convention Center
Tickets: 3-day passes $65 adults, $55 children ages 7-12 (one-day passes available only at the door)
Why you should go: Because you’re a fan of anime and Japanese-influenced animation (Think “Akira,” “Full Metal Alchemist” and “Yuri!!! on Ice”). Going on its third year, AnimeNext is currently the longest-running geek-friendly con in A.C.
June 9-10: New Jersey Comic Expo, Edison
June 28-30: OC Con
Where: Ocean City Music Pier, Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace
Why you should go: Last year, OC Con reached for the stars and grabbed Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams. Guests for this year have yet to be announced, but the con has expanded to three days and moved to late June, when it will be warmer and not conflict with the other N.J. shows scheduled for its previous slot in early April.
June 29-July 1: Wildwood Sports Card, Comic, Toy & Collectibles Show
Where: Wildwoods Convention Center, 4501 Boardwalk
Why you should go: Because you’re a collector of stuff, and this annual Wildwood show is nothing but stuff.
July 6: “Ant-Man and the Wasp”: Just as Marvel’s first “Ant-Man” film served as a comedic cooldown from the sturm und drang of 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” so too will this Paul Rudd-and-Evangeline Lilly-led sequel provide a breather after the universe-level stakes of “Infinity War.”