After a late afternoon opening to the general public on Thursday, the New York Comic Con kicked into high gear today with panels, announcements and the usual con craziness we've come to expect from big shows. Here's a round-up of comic-related news and announcements coming out of Friday. If you missed anything from Thursday, I've also got your back. I'd also point you to Brigid Alverson's rundown of the ICv2 sessions before NYCC that go deep on comic sales in 2011 and 2012 thus far, if you're into that.
• Keith Giffen returns to the stars next year with Threshold, a new DC Comics series that features Blue Beetle, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, the original Starfire and other space heroes, with a Larfleeze back-up. Giffen also seemingly confirmed that the current Blue Beetle series is coming to an end.
• Vertigo announced several new projects today, including The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and an Unwrtten/Fables event that will see the Unwritten characters wander into the Fables comic. Snyder said that American Vampire will go on hiatus after issue #34 so he and artist Rafael Albuquerque can catch up on it. When it returns, it'll jump ahead to the 1960s.
• Marvel is offering a free Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite Comic -- set in the world of the Disney XD animated series -- all weekend long on their mobile app. The story by Matt Kindt and Ramon Bachs stars the wall crawler and New York's Mayor Bloomberg. After Sunday it'll cost $1.99. Speaking of Marvel's digital plans, David Gabriel, vice president of sales, said that the company has given over $200,000 back to retailers for codes redeemed from print comics, and the kickback will continue through the launch of Marvel NOW! Also, Marvel and comiXology have developed a pre-order system for the Marvel webstore and comiXology website, allowing fans to pre-order digital comics.
In non-digital Marvel news, Peter David is approaching his 100th issue of X-Factor which will launch a storyline that he's been teasing for the last 15 years called "The Hell On Earth War." "All the various Hell lords have been waiting for this moment … the birth of the seven billionth human," said David. "This is going to be about a six issue storyline that is going to bring to culmination a number of story points that I've been teasing and dangling over the past few issue. And yet, I'm going to walk the razor thin line of making this accessible to new readers. By the end of the Hell on Earth War, basically every character in the Marvel Universe is going to be gunning for X-Factor."
• The Oni Press panel today brought a bunch of news. Joe Harris and Adam Pollina are re-teaming for a new over-sized graphic novel titled Wars in Toyland, a darker riff on the classic Babes in Toyland story. Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's The Sixth Gun is getting a spinoff miniseries co-written by Bunn and Hurtt, and drawn by Brian Churilla. And in January, Oni will turn their website into a webcomics portal, with plans to launch new webcomics from Jamie S. Rich and Natalie Nourigat; Ananth Panagariya and Tessa Stone; Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and Scott Kowalchuk; and Wook-Jin Clark in the first half of the year.
• Matt Wagner will tell the "definitive" origin story of the Shadow in Dynamite's The Shadow Year One. "For all his published history in both the pulps and comics, as well as his radio adventures, there's surprisingly no depiction of his very first adventures as the dark-clad Master of Men," Wagner said in the press release. "This series will explore the events that first drew Kent Allard/Lamont Cranston back to the States, how he began to assemble his vast network of agents and how he first adopted the famous black hat and cloak as his alter-ego's disguise-secrets that, up until now…only The Shadow knew!" Look for it next year.
• Andy Diggle will write the third arc of the Image/Skybound title Thief of Thieves.
• Nathan Edmondson and Marc Laming are working on a new graphic novel based on Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell video games.
• Dark Horse will publish a comic tie-in for the upcoming video game The Last of Us. They also have another Dragon Age miniseries in the works that continues the story of King Alistair, Isabela and Varric's search for the once-thought-dead King Maric. The company also has another Emily the Strange book in the works, and has plans to add the various Aliens, Predator and AVP series it has done to their digital comics app.
• Valiant's panel was also held today, and while I haven't seen a report, I know it included news about Harbinger #0 and probably some talk about the Shadowman movie being written by J. Michael Straczynski. I also understand that the classic Quantum and Woody will be released digitally at the end of October.