The huge comic-book fest is enormous fun - and can also get you thinking about weightier issues.
It's a buzzy Saturday morning outside London's star destroyer-sized ExCel centre and Rogue Pun is in one of Britain's more entertaining queues. Right in front is an excitable teen in a homemade Rick and Morty t-shirt, to the right are a couple of gents of a certain age dressed as different incarnations of Breaking Bad's Heisenberg, and just behind is Judge Dredd, who's something of an anomaly here: his in-character grumpiness is the only grimace we'll see all day.
Yes, it's MCM London Comic-Con 2017, clearly the most exciting weekend of the year for many of the punters eagerly but politely surging into this enormo-hanger. It's also our first official trip to one of these extraordinary events, which are about so much more than comics. This is convention for the unconventional.
Is there much comedy at comic-con? Mate, there's funny stuff happening everywhere, even before you reach the attractions. Pretty much the first chap we come across is sporting an epic Groot (from Guardians of the Galaxy) costume, but is also sporting a toy racoon representing his gun-toting partner, Rocket. Sweet. Then someone in a dinosaur suit saunters past, and only when he's lumbered into the distance do we realise that he's humming the theme from Jurassic Park. Honestly, this sort of thing happens every few seconds. Comic-con is the one event where the audience are as entertaining as the invited guests.
Our own invited guest is funny for a living, mind you: Rogue Pun's semi-regular cool-stuff-on-TV correspondent Tiernan Douieb had spent the previous day in the mythical Hawkins, Indiana, binging the whole second series of Stranger Things, having already binged on the soundtrack beforehand (which is worth doing even if you hate sci-fi, incidentally - Amazon link). And so to wean himself off, he's at comic-con with a guy called Hawkins; we break for a beverage and some bravura people-watching, early doors.
"What a brilliant event!" he says. "I don't think I've realised how fun it is to see Pennywise eating chips [Pennywise being the terrifying clown from It] while a man dressed as Wonder Woman chats to a Jedi."
If you're intrigued about why the Rogue Pun slot exists generally, this event is a fine showcase for the huge comedy/comic-stuff crossover. The reason Marvel's movies have outshone DC's so far is that they're essentially gag-heavy Ghostbusters-style romps, which their old rivals have taken a little longer to nail. Marvel have a suitably massive area at MCM London full of cool stuff - the human-sized action figure boxes are a particular winner, as are the Thor and Black Panther movie outfits - and one of their many British stars, Hayley Atwell, is one of this event's big guests. Meanwhile there's a fair bit of home-grown comedy here too.
Radio 4 are big comic-con hitters this year with a couple of panels: we catch a well-attended one about the return of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, while the next day they'll discuss Rob Grant's forthcoming time-travel series The Quanderhorn Xperimentations. Grant's most famous co-creation Red Dwarf is also well represented, with most of the cast on hand for the full comic-con experience: interviews, signings, photo sessions. Sunday's schedule would also feature an impressive array of Brit comedy/fantasy veterans: Bernard Cribbins, Keith Allen, Warwick Davies, and there's also Joe Pasquale... ok, so we're not quite sure what his comic-con connection is.
So, yes, there's comedy aplenty, sometimes from random sources; such as Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon in Marvel's Captain America movies. He's in splendid form, ploughing through questions from punters until way after the planned finish time, and firing off more zingers than Spider Man's jizzy wrist-shooters. He's particularly sharp about Tom Holland, the new young Spider Man, son of UK comic Dominic Holland and probable wearer of 'tighty-whities,' says his Avengers colleague. At least he wears them under his trousers.
That Q&A gets a little heavier later on, as Mackie is asked whether Marvel and DC do enough to encourage diversity, and responds with the suggestion that they're way ahead of the rest of Hollywood. Which may sound diplomatically positive, but elsewhere he's entertainingly off-message, bemoaning modern cinema prices and sounding slightly bemused by the whole comic-book, comic-con scene. It's a brave man who does that with this crowd, but you can't fault his frankness.
This whole comic-con business probably seems silly to some, but there are serious themes within those mighty franchises; like comedy, sci-fi is an accessible vehicle to tackle major issues. Take the X-Men universe, such as the new series Gifted, in which random mutants are persecuted as potentially violent even if entirely innocent: it's a useful analogy for Trump's America.
"Superhero stories always set moral guidelines too, which I think is handy in today's world," ponders Douieb (a point he also explores in his latest live show, which he's recording for posterity soon - details below.) "I reckon that's why they're so popular now, because people can get a glimpse of a world where powerful people do actually act in the interest of the public, unlike reality."
"Captain America punches Nazis in superhero stories; in real life Trump hires them for his White House administration. It's a big difference and why I waaaay prefer the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] a lot of the time."
Still, comic-con is largely about an exhaustive amount of fun. Come the end there's a guy in a Flash costume taking a well-earned nap after a busy day, and helmets everywhere. But most of the Red Dwarf team - Hattie Hayridge, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules - are still signing and chatting for a steady stream of punters. Clearly it's good to be back.
I check in with Douieb a few days later, enquiring about his favourite comic-con bits. As well as that fun Marvel stuff he'd wandered round the copious mind-boggling stalls and found "some old 80's Star Wars toys that made me need to sit in the corner and have a moment of wistful nostalgia." But those cosplayers took some beating, particularly "a man and his daughter dressed as Moana and her dad," concludes the comic. "I felt like a chump in just an Iron Man t-shirt."
He'd like us to point out that he was wearing trousers, too.