Author: Gene

May 3 / / Image

Black Science is an epic science fiction adventure, spanning multiple parallel dimensions with the most unique creatures and landscapes seen in comics today. Written by Rick Remender, with pencils by Matteo Scalera, colors by Dean White and letters by Rus Wooten, this is a gorgeous and action-packed book that will delight any sci-fi fan.

In the distant future, Grant McCay, leader of the Anarchist League of Scientists, unlocks “black science,” which allows him and his team of Dimensionauts to hop back and forth across dimensions, or so that’s the plan. Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan, otherwise we’d have a very boring story. The “pillar,” which is the tool that allows them to hop between dimensions, has been sabotaged and now the team has to deal with unpredictable jumps between dimensions – they have no idea when they will jump, where they will end up, or what types of worlds and creatures they’ll run into. You can already imagine how many things can go wrong and how many unexpected turns things could take if you’re at the whim of random dimension-jumps.

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April 20 / / Image

There are so many genres of comic books, and storytelling, in general. Pretty Deadly manages to blend multiple genres and storytelling techniques in one beautiful, intricate package. Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and illustrated by Emma Rios with colors by Jordie Bellaire, Pretty Deadly volume 1 collects the first five issues of the series, and is a story that demands multiple readings, which in this case, is a good thing.

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April 2 / / Cons

We were lucky enough to make the trip up from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest to attend Emerald City Comicon for the first time – and it was definitely worth it. Considered part of the “Big 3” of comic book conventions among San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con, it drew over 80,000 attendees from all over the country (and even overseas). It’s not just comic books, however, but all things comic book and pop culture related – dealers, panels, celebrities, gaming, creators, cosplay and more. We managed to soak all of it up, and had a blast!

We wanted to attend ECCC for several reasons, but mainly because we’ve never been before and we’ve been to nearly every California convention already. While our main focus is comic books (obviously), we still like to attend panels, meet celebrities, do some gaming and sometimes cosplay ourselves. If comic book conventions are buffets, we like to sample a bit of every dish.

In this recap and review, we touch on different aspects of the show:

February 9 / / Cons

Back before people camped out overnight to watch a panel with the cast of Twilight, people used to go to comic book conventions to buy comic books. Crazy, right?

Cal Comic Con is an event for comic book collectors, by comic book collectors. It’s an old school style con in every sense – there are no movie trailers, celebrity panels, video game demos, exclusive toys or cosplayers, just lots and lots of comic books.

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The Shortboxed crew decided to take a little road trip and drive down from San Francisco, CA to Orange County, CA to check out this show for ourselves, and it was everything we imagined it would be.

Hosted for one day in the Yorba Linda Community Center, it’s very unassuming and bare bones. It’s technically more of an expo (dealer showroom) than a full blown convention – over 30 dealers filled up 2 rooms and an outdoor patio. Some of the largest and most well-known dealers on the West Coast attend this show, and for good reason – all the attendees are hardcore comic book collectors looking for hard-to-find books or to fill gaps in their collection. This is the best show to buy comic books.

January 20 / / Image

Sex Criminals, written by the best duo in comics today, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, is a coming of age heist story, with lots of sex.

Suze is a woman who stops time when she has an orgasm. No explanation necessary, that’s just what happens. One day at a fundraising party to save her library, she meets Jon, whom she sleeps with, and discovers that he can do the same. What follows is an exhilarating tale of two young people in love who can stop time when they have sex, and of course they use their “ability” to rob banks and save Suze’s library from demolition at the hands of an evil corporation.

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December 22 / / Marvel

The year is 1984. Mattel teams up with Marvel to create a line of officially-licensed action figures based on Marvel characters. Someone decides that the best way to promote these toys is to create a 12-issue comic book series that includes all of the characters, and the now-classic Secret Wars is born.

While Secret Wars may have been born out of pure promotional tactics, it has cemented itself as a modern classic by being the first major crossover event of its kind. Back in 1984, big crossover events didn’t really happen, so the thought of pitting Marvel’s best superheroes against it’s best villains was a fairly groundbreaking concept.

So how exactly did they bring all of these characters together?

December 11 / / Marvel

The Guardians of the Galaxy was this summer’s blockbuster hit, bringing in almost $800 million worldwide. Before this movie, most people (including comic book fans) have never even heard of the ragtag space group, and now they’re encroaching on Avengers territory among the mainstream moviegoing public. This is great news for the comics, since interest in these characters naturally encourage people to pick up the comics so they can read more about them.

The current Guardians of the Galaxy series by Brian Michael Bendis is an ongoing series, 21 issues in at the time of this post, but it’s never too late to jump into the story! If you watched the movie, then you have all the familiarity you need to pick up this series and start reading along. Also, the first four arcs of the run have been collected in trade paperbacks, so you don’t have to go hunting down individual back issues if you want to start from the beginning – just pick up the trades and you’ll be caught up nice and quick.

For the sake of this review, I’m covering the entire run as a whole, and not focusing on individual issues. I’ve broken it down by each arc, which are collected in four trade paperbacks, with a fifth one being released in March 2015. I give a quick intro and commentary on each of the arcs after the jump.

December 8 / / Guides

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2014 has been a pivotal year for comics – we’ve seen a lot of new creators hit the scene, old characters refreshed, and some heavy hitters still going strong. Image continued its streak of bringing us incredible creator-owned series from the likes of Brian K. Vaughan, Robert Kirkman and Rick Remender, and Marvel and DC continued to pump out new storylines from our favorite franchises.  Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America all have new personas, and we were all charmed by a young lady who goes by Ms. Marvel. The indie scene continues to flourish, and digital comic book sales continue to rise with a new generation of digital-first readers. Yes, we have plenty to be proud of this year (including the launch of Shortboxed), which made it very difficult to choose our Top 10 Best Comic Books of 2014.

See which books made the the Top 10 Best Comic Books of 2014 after the jump!