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20 Best Things We Saw and Heard at Comic-Con 2014

From ‘Assassins’ Creed’ to Zachary Levi, the movies, comics and video game highlights you need to know

comic con 2014

Corey Ransberg; Getty Images

There are conventions, and then there's Comic-Con. Some 125,000 people descended upon San Diego last week for what is officially billed as an event "celebrating the popular arts," but what is really the flash creation of a small City of the Geeks. Attendees lapped up exclusive previews of huge upcoming films, first looks at new and returning TV shows, demonstrations of the latest in gaming and virtual reality technology, opportunities to meet artists and stars and much more. Every year the Con takes over downtown San Diego, spilling over into the Gaslamp Quarter and filling hotels, bars, restaurants and even the local baseball stadium with fans, industry professionals and artists from all walks of pop culture, including thousands of nerds filling the convention center and city like self-replicating robots.

Rolling Stone was on the ground covering everything from the hard-to-get-into Hall H, where the studios roll out premiere footage from movies like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, to the far end of the exhibition hall where comic book dealers still keep the show's original spirit alive. Yes, Comic-Con has changed a lot since it launched more than 40 years ago in the basement of a hotel, and it's safe to say that it's now more a giant marketing and promotional emporium than an organic fan gathering.

But there are still amazing, wonderful things to see and do, and here's a list of 20 that we pegged as event highlights. By Don Kaye and Dave Maass

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for CraveOnline

‘The Last Ship’ Party on the USS Midway

Comic-Con parties can be legendary, and this year the new TV series the Last Ship and Crave Online partnered for a massive bash on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Midway, now a museum permanently anchored at San Diego's Navy Pier. MGMT and Grimes provided the musical entertainment while partygoers tracked down drinks, played laser tag and took photos next to actual fighter jets. Some lifers grumble that this is the kind of event that has drained the charm out of the original Comic-Con – but they probably just weren't invited.

Adam Savage's Incognito Party

Dave Maass

Adam Savage’s ‘Incognito’ Party

Most Comic-Con parties are organized by professional marketers and the "talent" awkwardly mingle until their handlers give them the exeunt nod. Not so with Mythbuster's Adam Savage, who began throwing small hotel-room parties many, many Cons ago. This year, he treated the party like any engineering challenge: He booked an entire upscale bar, populated it with the best of his cosplay (and that dude spends months designing his Admiral Ackbar, Chewbacca and Dr. Zoidberg costumes) and invited the world. The best touch: "Dragon Breath" caramel corn infused with liquid nitrogen so that you exhale vapor with each mouthful.

Corey Ransberg

The Exhibition Hall

You have not had the full Comic-Con experience until you've walked "the floor," the main exhibition hall in the San Diego Convention Center that features more than half-a-million square feet of space for every type of geeky entertainment you could want: from the big movie and TV exhibits to Artists' Alley – where you can pick up original art from new talents – there are literally hours and hours of activities available, not to mention scores of opportunities to empty your wallet on toys, collectibles, comic books (yes, there are actually comic books at Comic-Con) and all kinds of other merchandise. Be warned: the crowds are enormous and there are times when foot traffic can come to a standstill. But my Comic-Con is never complete until I've hit "the floor."

The Walking Dead

Corey Hale

‘The Walking Dead’

Attention animated-GIF fiends: there now exists footage of the core cast of the Walking Dead flipping the bird, a reflex reaction they all picked up from resident rascal Norman Reedus. Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun and Danai Gurira all joined Reedus in an uproarious panel at Nerd HQ, with a conversation that ranged from backstage antics (Reedus takes his crossbow home with him) to how they explain to their family members that they're really not cut out to be zombies extras (Georgian summers are not kind to latex-smeared extras). Best of all was Gurira's inspired closing treatise on female characters in mainstream television, which you can catch online.

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