Superheroes, wizards and Jedi Knights have descended on the Venezuelan capital.
And while they may not be able to save the country from its spiraling economic crisis, fans at Caracas Comic-Con are counting on their heroes to at least help them escape their real-world problems for a while.
For three weekends, through July 31, fans are paying tribute to the worlds of comic books, video games and sci-fi at the 10th Caracas Comic-Con, the local edition of the international pop culture fest.
It comes at a time when a punishing recession, food shortages, hyperinflation and violent crime have left Venezuelans desperate for heroes — or even villains — to come to the rescue.
"It gives us space to breathe in the middle of this political situation," said Jhoan Guzman, a 25-year-old chemist who is today wearing the white face paint and red lipstick of his alter ego: Batman's arch-enemy Joker.
"This is an alternative to help us forget the world we're living in, to enjoy ourselves doing something we love."
Instead of lining up outside the supermarket for basic necessities, attendees flock to a convention hall in a Caracas mall to pay homage to their favorite pop culture phenomena: "The Avengers," "Star Wars," "Harry Potter," "Pokemon" and "Game of Thrones," among others.
Some even show up in costume, just like at other Comic-Cons worldwide — chief among them the giant gathering each July in San Diego — though here the get-ups are often cobbled together using whatever materials are at hand.
Ann Mary Fayard, a 34-year-old fashion designer, was decked out as Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick, a costume she made from scraps.
"I recycle everything. Whatever cloth is left over, design materials. I save money and tap of my ingenuity," she said.
"I like 'cosplay' (costume role-play) because I can let my imagination fly. It's a way to free your mind of so many problems and spend time doing something else."