Panel….or pep rally? Thousands of Heroes fans packed Comic-Con‘s largest venue to get the first look at season three before it returns to NBC — after a nine-month-hiatus — on Sept. 22. And when we say first look, we mean a complete 44-minute look: Executive Producer Tim Kring told the 6,000-plus crowd that he not only wants them to be among the first to see the start of Volume III (titled "The Second Coming"), but that he’d also like them to spread the word once they leave San Diego. "Go back and talk about it and say it’s better than ever," Kring said. Spoilers begin after the jump:
• The action begins with a "future" Peter (Milo Ventimiglia, pictured) comingback to modern day in an effort to shoot Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) beforehe exposes their secret powers to the world.
• Matt (Greg Grunberg) discovers future-Peter’s real identity — butis banished into the middle of nowhere before he can do anything aboutit.
• Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) finally isolates Maya’s (DaniaRamirez) powers in chemical form, and uses a syringe to inject himselfwith the magic elixir rather than give the girl what she wants —freedom from the hell of her super-human affliction.
• Sylar (Zachary Quinto) traps Claire (Hayden Panettiere) in herhouse and literally rips open her head to steal her thoughts andability to defy death, while…
• Hiro (Masi Oki) disobeys his dead father’s command and opens upthe office safe that holds part of a formula that, if completed, coulddestroy the world. Of course, it’s confiscated within seconds by amysterious, time-traveling blonde.
• There are also brief appearances by Niki (Ali Larter) — nowlooking professional and dating (or married to?) an older man — as wellas Noah (Jack Coleman), who’s locked up in an inescapable prison cell.Oh, and keep an eye out for a new animated image (painting?) that looklikes the Earth is cracking in half.
• And did we say a newly powered-up Mohinder gets to finally kick some ass?
The screening left little time for and a Q&A session, but thatdidn’t stop the entire cast from coming on stage to wave and blowkisses to the fans (one young woman even got a hug from Ventimiglia).The crowd roared, especially since most had been waiting hours for thepanel. One even waved a sign that said "Milo we camped out 4 U allnight."