<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer but what's that you feel in the air? It's the rapidly approaching convention season, starting with WonderCon 2012, March 16 to March 18 at the Anaheim Convention Center. <p>WonderCon can broadly be defined as the little sibling of Comic-Con International in San Diego they're produced by the same folks but in recent years, "little" has become something of a misnomer. Though not as numerous, the type of panels and guests have grown more and more similar to Comic-Con, as have the crowds. (The effect the Anaheim Convention Center's close proximity to Disneyland will have on traffic and general congestion should be an interesting subplot to watch unfold over the next few days.) <p>So there's plenty to look forward to this weekend, both for hardcore comic book fans and those more interested in movies, TV or video games. Newsarama will be reporting live from the convention virtually non-stop from Friday through Sunday, but before that, we've cobbled together a list of 10 things happening at the show worth keeping an eye on whether you're there in person, or just following along from your computer/tablet/smartphone/psychic link. For the purposes of this list, we're focusing on convention programming panels, presentations and the like but there's plenty to do around the exhibit floor, too. <p>For our picks of 10 must-sees and must-dos at WonderCon 2012, click "start here" in the upper-left corner to begin the countdown. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
<b>When</b>: 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Room 204 <p>A monthly fixture at the Los Angeles branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, "Tournament of Nerds!" brings together comedians and geek culture celebrities (<i>Nerdist</i> host Chris Hardwick and <i>Manhunter</i> writer Marc Andreyko have judged in the past) to debate the issues that really matter, like which superhero could beat up which fantasy character. <p>The show comes to WonderCon on Saturday night, with billed guests including Maddox, writer of the hilarious "Alphabet of Manliness," plus comedians Alex Fernie, Roger Barr and Chris Tallman.
<b>When</b>: 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Ballroom, Third Level <p>The Masquerade at Comic-Con is popular enough that they broadcast the event on closed-circuit TV in another room, since the actual venue gets so packed. <p>The WonderCon masquerade might not be at that level (yet), but in its eight year, it's gaining quite an audience: Con officials report an attendance of more than 2,900 last year. <p>So what is the masquerade all about? It's basically cosplay taken to the next level, with fans in costumes also presenting something of a short, theatrical presentation on stage and then being judged for prizes including $500 for the "audience favorite."
<b>When</b>: Various <br><b>Where</b>: Various <p>Conventions are supposed to be fun, sure, but for those who are looking for a little headier way to pass the time throughout the show might want to check out one of the 10 Comics Arts Conference panels scheduled over the weekend. <p>Topics, which all sound like the names of thesis papers, include: "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned from Batman and Bart, Man: Embiggening Brains Without Crayon Implants," "Batman vs. Iron Man: Can Biology Best Technology?" and "Females and Feminism," looking at the important of figures like Wonder Woman on culture as a whole.
<b>When</b>: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday <br><b>Where</b>: Ballroom, Third Level <p>As of right now, the listing for WonderCon's <i>Community</i> panel only reads, "Info to come!" <p>But that's OK, because it's a panel dedicated to NBC's thoroughly meta sitcom <i>Community</i>, so it's bound to be entertaining and coming just three days after the first episode back on air in months, think of it as sort of a victory lap for whoever from the show actually happens to be at the panel. <p>(Unless, of course, "Community" refers to something else entirely. It is a pretty common word. But we're pretty sure we're right about this one.)
<b>When</b>: Adventure Time! (OK, 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday) <br><b>Where</b>: Room 204 <p>Dear <i>Adventure Time</i> fans WonderCon just might be the convention for you. <p>Not only is show creator Pendleton Ward appearing at a panel on Saturday, talking season four and more, but there's also a panel dedicated to the new <i>Adventure Time</i> comic book from BOOM! Studios that one is at 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in Room 211.
<b>When</b>: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Room 204 <p>Marvel Comics is scheduled to hold several panels related to their publishing line at WonderCon it is a comic book convention, after all but if you can only make one, this might be the one to choose. <p>In lieu of Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada's usual announcement-filled "Cup O' Joe" panel, the company's senior vice president of publishing, Tom Brevoort, is hosting "Talk to the Hat." (Because he wears a hat sometimes, you see.) <p>The panel promises to be similarly announcement filled, including information on what <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/captain-marvel-wondercon-teaser.html>this Captain Marvel teaser</a> is all about, and more on the return of <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-wonder-con-teaser-x-treme-x-men.html><i>X-Treme X-Men</i></a>.
<b>When</b>: 3 to 4 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Room 204 <p>Like Marvel, DC also has a busy weekend ahead of them, but this panel stands out about the rest, since it's very surely going to be focused on <i>Before Watchmen</i> even though they aren't coming out and saying it. <p>"Don't miss this panel about the sure-to-be most talked about project of 2012!" says the official convention materials. Vague, sure, but given the presence of J. Michael Straczynski (pictured) and Len Wein, it's hard to imagine it's about anything other than the highly publicized, much-debated series of <i>Watchmen</i> prequels scheduled to debut starting in June.
<b>When</b>: Noon to 1 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Room 213 <p>Jeph Loeb-hosted Marvel TV panels have become a fairly common thing at conventions I've seen the yet-to-air second season premiere of <i>Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes</i> at least twice now but this one is special, coming two weeks before the debut of the "Marvel Universe" lineup on Disney XD. <p>Special why? Because those in attendance will be among the first on the entire planet to watch the series premiere of the long-hyped <i>Ultimate Spider-Man</i> animated series. And that's not all Spidey fans have to look forward to...
<b>When</b>: 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday <br><b>Where</b>: Ballroom, Third Level <p>In what will surely have the longest line of any panel this WonderCon weekend, <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i> director Marc Webb and live-action Gwen Stacy, Emma Stone, will be present during the Sony movies panel, to talk this July's feature film. <p>Not only will the lines be long, but if you're going just for Spider-Man, keep in mind you'll also have to hear about <i>Resident Evil: Retribution</i> and <i>Looper</i> (not saying that's a bad thing who wouldn't want to see both Milla Jovovich and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in person?). But if the panel is anything like the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/film/amazing-spider-man-teaser-event-120206.html>footage shown at sneak peek events</a> worldwide last month, it'll all be worth it.
<b>When</b>: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday <br><b>Where</b>: Ballroom, Third Level <p>Preview footage of upcoming movies is always pretty cool. What's cooler? Getting to watch the whole thing, duh. <p>WonderCon attendees that can make their way in on Friday night will get to see the "world premiere" of <i>Superman vs. The Elite</i>, a direct-to-DVD animated adaptation of the much-acclaimed <i>Action Comics #775</i>, where Superman faces an Authority-esque team who feel that the Man of Steel's methods are outdated. <p>What's even cooler than all that is that Joe Kelly, the same writer responsible for the original story, wrote the screenplay for the movie and he'll be in attendance at the screening, as part of Q&A following the movie. Pretty cool all around, and the exact kind of experience that makes a convention special.