On the first full day of Comic Con 2011 on Thursday, Comic Riffs contributor Tom Racine (he of the Tall Tale Radio podcast) gravitated toward worlds of mighty rings and shields, of Gollum and Red Skull.

Straight from the San Diego Convention Center, here is his latest dispatch:


Amid the throngs of Thursday’s Comic-Con, a fan could find safe sanctuary in the shire.

The day started with a stop at the “Hobbit” movie panel, hosted by “TheOneRing.net,” which is billed as the largest and oldest online fan site for all things Tolkien and “Lord of the Rings” — a great place to visit as filming goes on in New Zealand for the two-part “Hobbit.”




The main doors opened at 9:30 a.m. and by 10, one could barely get a last-row seat. (How do those people get up there so fast? Are there secret passages within the Convention Center I don’t know about?)

OneRing.net does a great job of keeping people informed of what’s going on in the Tolkien-verse, but sadly, this panel failed to live up to any really exciting fanboy expectations. Has a world of Facebook and Twitter stolen some of the thunder from groups like them? OneRing started about a decade ago — as people were ravenous for information about the LOTR movies — and the site got a lot of great scoops. But several times at the presentation, panelists laughingly pointed out that many of the points they were going to make today were made the night before, when Peter Jackson posted his latest 13-minute “production diary” on Facebook.

Kinda hard to scoop the guy actually making the film.

We did learn that British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is providing the voice of Smaug, and the panelists played a bit of him reading “The Jabberwock” by Lewis Carroll. He sounded great, and it’s easy to imagine what he’s going to do with the Dragon.

Also, the crowd in the room was lukewarm on the idea of Evangeline Lilly playing an Elf in “The Hobbit.”

The day’s other big event of the day was screening “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I had high hopes, and the movie exceeded those expectations. (To read more about the film, check out Post critic Ann Hornaday’s favorable review.)

Also interesting from Hollywood was the trailer screened here for the new “Spider-Man” reboot. It featured a “first person” view of Spidey running along the rooftops and being revealed in the reflection of a skyscraper’s windows. Worth nothing: After the preview ended, it was met by a cold silence in the mostly full theater. This, in a theater full of comic book fans there to see a comic book movie.

(To follow Tom Racine’s activities and live tweeting from panel sessions, you can go to: @talltaleradio.)