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The Best Comic Books Of 2014

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The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below.

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Toy Review: NECA’s ‘Predator Bad Blood’ Figures Honor Dark Horse’s Early ’90s Excess

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Though the story itself is very much a product of its time, NECA's managed to bring both Bad Blood and the Enforcer to life with great detail. Right down to the decapitated heads.

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An Evil So Great, It Can Only Be Stopped By Conan And Red Sonja (And Gail Simone, Jim Zub And Dan Panosian)

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Evil sorcery is a problem for the people of a certain age undreamt of, and apparently it's gotten so bad that one Hyborian hero is no longer enough to stop them. That's why in January, we're getting a team-up in the form of Conan/Red Sonja, in which a pretty fantastic creative team of Gail Simone, Jim Zub and Dan Panosian are teaming up the two heroes to stop -- you guessed it -- evil sorcery.

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7 Dark Horse ‘Star Wars’ Comics You Must Read Before Marvel Wipes Them Out… All Of Them

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If you listened hard when Disney announced that it had bought Lucasfilm, you could hear it: millions of expanded universe stories suddenly crying out in terror, and suddenly silenced. For the last 23 years, Dark Horse Comics has been adding to the Star Wars saga, publishing a host of comics set in that galaxy far, far away, partnering with Lucasfilm to help weave a vibrant tapestry of stories, characters and settings to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the films, books, video games, trading card games, RPG handbooks, and (ugh) Holiday Specials.

Well, no more. Starting in 2015, Disney's handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that's not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That's where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.

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No Reason Not To Do Both: Cartoonist Kel McDonald On Web Vs. Print [Interview]

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Kel McDonald has been making comics for ten years, including a ten year run on her webcomic Sorcery 101. She was an early adopter of crowdfunding as a way of getting her comics out in print, and book one of McDonald's Misfits of Avalon series came out earlier this year through Dark Horse Comics. As increasing numbers of young, particularly female comics creators turn to webcomics as a way of getting their work out there, and as increasing numbers of comics publishers look to webcomics for up-and-coming talent, creators like McDonald are poised to have a unique understanding of the current comics world we live in

As part of her wrap-up of Sorcery 101, she's currently running a Kickstarter campaign for an omnibus of the series. ComicsAlliance sat down with McDonald to talk comics, crowdfunding, and web versus print.

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London’s Southwark Playhouse Adapts Stan Sakai’s ‘Usagi Yojimbo’ For The Stage, And It Looks Awesome

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I'm a pretty big fan of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, for the simple reason that it's one of the single greatest epics in comic book history. The mix of meticulously researched history, funny animal comics and high adventure, along wth Sakai's legendarily consistent high level of craftsmanship, has made it an amazing comic. That said, I never expected it to make the transition from the page to the stage.

And yet, that's exactly what's happening in London, as the Southwark Playhouse's Stewart Melton has adapted Usagi Yojimbo as their annual Christmas play -- and not only that, but it seems to be getting rave reviews for its use of live music and a whole lot of swordplay.

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A Great Lost Artist And His Unsung Masterpiece: Edvin Biukovic And ‘Devils & Deaths’

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Comic artist Edvin Biukovic died fifteen years ago this month at just 30 years old. His death was obviously a terrible loss to those who knew and loved him. It was also a terrible loss to the comic industry; Biukovic never received the level of lasting acclaim or recognition that his talent deserved, and produced relatively few works. Yet he was one of the finest comic artists of his generation.

Biukovic published several works in his native Croatia that have sadly never been translated. His finished English-language works include a couple of Star Wars stories published at Dark Horse, and the first of Peter Milligan's Human Target stories for Vertigo. One work stands as his masterpiece; Devils And Deaths, written by his long-time friend and collaborator Darko Macan, and published by Dark Horse, is a science fiction story about a country torn apart by ancient grudges and tribal conflicts, and of the desperate people trying to eke out a purpose in the midst of war.

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You Must Pre-Order The Hell Out Of ‘Lady Killer’ #1 By Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich [Preview]

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Josie is a young housewife living post-war America. She sells makeup door-to-door, she takes care of her twin kids and the family dog, she makes dinner for her husband, and she suffers her endlessly disapproving mother-in-law. That is, when she's not murdering people in astonishingly violent ways.

Josie's a highly trained assassin, and the paradox that is her life comes courtesy of cartoonist Joélle Jones and co-writer Jamie S. Rich, whose new Dark Horse series Lady Killer invites readers into a weirdly alluring story that follows a grand tradition of subverting Americana, but with a uniquely wicked, black comedy twist and what Josie might even say is a woman's touch.

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‘Hellboy And The B.P.R.D.: 1952′ Takes Hellboy On An Awesome First Mission [Review]

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Hey, have you folks heard about this Hellboy character? It's okay if you haven't -- there's a big #1 on the cover of this comic I just read, so I assume he's pretty new. Trust me, though, he's a character you're going to want to watch, because despite a name that seems pretty lousy the first time you hear it, this is pretty good stuff.

Seriously, though, as much as I love Hellboy and the world of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), I'll admit that I haven't been keeping up with the ongoing adventures over the past few years. I'm sure they're good -- I'm sure they're great, because it's rare that Hellboy isn't, and Hellboy In Hell is viewed very favorably here at ComicsAlliance -- but it's one of those situations where I've fallen behind and it's at the point where there's so much I've missed that it's hard to get back into it.

And that's exactly why I was looking forward to Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952. On sale now, it tells the story of Hellboy's first assignment with the BPRD, which makes it the perfect jumping-on (or in my case, jumping-back-in) point, and not only is it ridiculously good, but it feels fresh and new in a way that's almost impossible for a 20 year-old franchise to pull off.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Deluxe Edition Comics And Art Books

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If you’re like some of the ComicsAlliance staff, you have a great affection for deluxe edition books that offer historical overviews of various pop culture topics, reprint the great works of the comics medium, and/or collect classic storylines (and supplement them with all kinds of bonus material)… And with the gift-giving season now in full swing, you're likely looking for the perfect gifts for your follow geeks (or possibly, wanting to give your relations some suggestions for things you'd like this year, in lieu of another ill-fitting sweater). So as a public service, we've compiled this list of some of the best expensive, large, and mind-blowingly ornate titles that you can find at your local comic shop or from online booksellers.

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