In 1938, Superman burst into the popular imagination by effortlessly tossing an automobile at a group of terrified crooks. Fast-forward 70 years and comic books are only part of a globe-girdling pop culture that encompasses Spider-Man blockbusters, the Sci-Fi channel, toys, video games, and Japanese anime. All this and more hits Gotham this weekend: Along with vintage comics dealers, the New York Comic-Con hosts advance screenings of the Daniel Clowes–Terry Zwigoff film Art School Confidential and Marvel’s newly animated Ultimate Avengers, plus such panel discussions as “The Future of the Graphic Novel” and a Sotheby’s-worthy exhibition of golden-age comics (featuring Superman’s debut, Action 1). Dozens of special guests include Joe Simon (who, with partner Jack Kirby, created many comic icons like Captain America and the Young Romance series); Neal Adams, the revered Batman limner and untiring champion of artists’ rights in an industry notorious for screwing talent out of royalties; writer Brian Azzarello, whose 100 Bullets is a masterpiece of snappy nihilism; Mari Iijima, the Japanese pop singer known to millions worldwide as Lynn Minmay of the anime hit Macross; and media critic Douglas Rushkoff. This extravaganza should prove worthy of the Man of Steel’s history and the cutting-edge exploits of his myriad progeny.