Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his preview:

FRIDAY, JULY 25th

This is “Star Wars Day,” apparently, which begs the question, does anybody care? Is that CLONE WARS computer-animated movie really exciting anyone? You already know how the story begins and ends, and the characters look like wooden dolls. Still, several panels throughout the day will attempt to “fire up the base.” New books, comics, toys, and such, all based on CLONE WARS, will be promoted. I’m impressed by the new double-sized Millennium Falcon toy, but wouldn’t have any place to put it. How much space and disposable income do kids have today, anyway?
 
That aside, Friday doesn’t have a lot that stands out right away. You can talk to Marvel’s Joe Quesada and Kevin Feige at 10 a.m. (Room 6A), and attend a Mattel/DC panel at 11:30 in room 8 to ask them why Heath Ledger Joker action figures are so hard to find (yes, because he died; but why isn’t supply meeting demand?).
 
The first big-deal panel is at 11:55, when you get to watch Warner Bros’ WATCHMEN in Hall H. No doubt you’ve seen the first trailer online already, or possibly running with THE DARK KNIGHT. Maybe you’ve never even read the original comic maxi-series, and were confused as hell by the giant blue guy and the owl guy and that hot chick in latex. Go read it. Often described as either the War and Peace or Citizen Kane of comics, WATCHMEN was a deconstruction of superhero tropes that dealt with the ramifications of how heroes and masked vigilantes would have changed America’s history if they actually existed. In the ’80s, this was a new way of looking at superheroes for many. Now that the superhero has become ubiquitous on the big screen, the movies may be ready to handle it. Director Zack Snyder and some of the key cast members showed up last year, but this time you’ll be able to ask them more specific questions.
 
There’s a new RESIDENT EVIL movie coming out, but it’s not part of the Milla Jovovich live-action series; rather, it’s all-CG, being made in Japan, and existing fully within the continuity of the video games. With zombies and flesh-eating mutants, this ain’t Pixar, folks. Check out the brand-new trailer in Room 2 at 1 p.m.
 
Good news for geeks: There’s a GHOSTBUSTERS sequel coming out. Less good news: It’s a video game, not a movie. However, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson will be showing up to tell you more. It’s guaranteed to be the best thing they’ve been involved with in quite a while. (1:45, Room 6B)
 
Makeup maestro Rick Baker will be onhand for Universal’s WOLFMAN panel…but no Benicio Del Toro? He’s the only reason to care about this remake, so here’s hoping for a surprise appearance. (2 p.m., Hall H) It’ll be followed by Lionsgate’s panel for THE SPIRIT, once again featuring Samuel L. Jackson, as well as perennial attendee Eva Mendes, star Gabriel Macht, and director Frank Miller. Fans are already deriding the early trailers for the movie as being too much like SIN CITY and not enough like the original Spirit comics by Will Eisner, so he may be facing a semi-hostile crowd. Sam and Eva just might win ’em over, though.
 
Later, in the same hall, Miller will also be appearing, along with Snyder, on a panel with Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow, dubbed “Entertainment Weekly‘s The Visionaries: Filmmakers.” I’m delighted to see EW finally figured out that Comic-Con is important; considering it’s owned by Time-Warner, this is something they should have sussed out years ago. Are these really our most visionary filmmakers? Things could get interesting if Smith decides to unload some geek-level whoopass on Miller over THE SPIRIT…but it’ll probably just be a lot self-congratulation, alas.
 
TROPIC THUNDER will be screening in the Gaslamp district Thursday night, while the highlight that evening back at the con will be Spike and Mike’s The Gauntlet, at which contenders for the annual Sick and Twisted festival of animation get screened to rabid fans, whose cheers or boos determine what will and won’t make the cut. (10:30 p.m., Room 6CDEF)