Nine Must-See Events at Phoenix Comicon 2012

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5. Costumes and Characters Phoenix Comicon is like Christmas, New Year's Eve, and Halloween all rolled into one for Valley cosplayers or anyone else who's got a getup inspired by sci-fi, comics, video games, or other areas of pop culture. Half the fun of going to the event is to see what sort of costumes that Comicon patrons are sporting and the characters they're portraying. Within the span of five minutes you can run into three Links, a couple of Darth Vaders, and practically the entire roster of The Avengers.

Outfits run the gamut from creative (a full platoon of predators from, uh...Predator) and clever (one dude last year was a walking version of the "Double Rainbow" meme) to the absolutely kooky (like a "robot" made from cardboard boxes that danced for quarters). One thing's for certain, it's guaranteed to be a memorable experience.

4. Garth Ennis As his work on Dark Horse's Judge Dredd, Vertigo's Hellblazer, and Marvel's The Punisher demonstrates, Garth Ennis is a very complicated man. Inside the mind of the Irish comics there likely exists a hot brew of angst, black humor, and tumult, which throughout his lengthy career has resulted in titles containing massive ultra-violence and profane dialogue that translate into gripping reads.

Ennis is fascinated with the effects of war, which has made Battlefields quite a page-turner. And Ennis' distinct distaste for religion was parlayed into his work on the otherworldly Preacher, which is arguably his magnum opus. In other words, his appearance on Saturday should be a unique experience.

3. George Pérez If you aren't familiar with this icon of the comic book world, here's a short list of the Puerto Rican illustrator's accomplishments: Pérez redefined the look of The Avengers (you know, the comic that inspired that movie everyone and their mother has seen) for Marvel in the '70s with his ultra-meticulous style, launched The New Teen Titans over at DC, and became a favorite of the masses with his work on Justice League of America. Plus, he was included in the 1985 comic book artist compilation Fifty Who Made DC Great.

Impressed yet? You should be, since he's considered a god amongst comic artists. Perez, whose drawings are famous for their incredibly nuanced and detailed nature, will be a part of the "Writers vs. Artists" panel on Saturday, May 26.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.