It’s said that no website can gain passage to the new year without a “Best of” list. This is our list…

Now, I figured everyone on the review team would be too busy with the holidays or they’d just want to enjoy the extra time off thanks to only two comics being released this week, but just days ago I found my inbox full with not just requests but outright demands for a grand end-of-the-year bash. I really couldn’t have picked more enthusiastic fans to write these reviews!

So here it is! Everyone on the review team (including myself) chiming in with their favorite 2014 stories, covers, and even a few extra categories they made up on their own. Note:  ongoing sagas like “Endgame” and “Anarky” were not eligible for the 2014 list since they haven’t concluded yet. I know, I know, the review team grumbled about that as well, but I stand by that decision. However, if the reviewer chose to make a category for say “Best Single Issue” then a chapter of “Endgame” or the latest installment of Batman Eternal was indeed permitted.

Oh, and not only are we doing a “Best of” list for the year, but in 2015 we’re going to start doing a monthly segment much like this only it’ll feature both the best and worst of Batman comics!

Elena Carrillo’s Picks

ELENA’S TOP THREE FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014:

Detective 35

“Terminal”

Detective Comics #35 & #36

By Ben Percy and John Paul Leon

Ben Percy and John Paul Leon proved that bloated “event” storylines can drown over months of development while an old-fashioned well-told two-parter can pack in all the excitement, characters, and even social commentary one could hope for in a Batman book. These kinds of stories shouldn’t be relegated to largely non-continuity anthologies; it was great to see this in a regular Batman book.

Lost-Episode

“The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face”

Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode #1

By Harlan Ellison, Len Wein, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Some of the most legendary creators assemble to bring Harlan Ellison’s unproduced Batman ‘66 story featuring Two-Face (who never otherwise made an appearance on the show) to life. This is the kind of “special” we need more of: a great story scripted by Len Wein, rendered beautifully by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, replete with extras like Garcia-Lopez’s pencils, Ellison’s original script treatment, and cover designs. In a year full of the usual annuals and holiday specials, this is a special that truly deserves the moniker.

HarleyFutures End

“Crappily Ever After”

Futures End: Harley Quinn #1

By Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Cahd Hardin, and Alex Sinclair

The unstoppable creative marriage (both literally and figuratively in this case) of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin, and Alex Sinclair made this Futures End event an awesome one-shot that will remain standing long after most of the other Futures End volumes have been retconned and forgotten. Just awesome fun with or without the gimmicky lenticular cover.

BEST NON-BATMAN STORY THAT BATMAN NEWS COVERED ANYWAY:

Multiversity-Pax-Americana-1

“In Which We Burn”

Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 

By Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

You don’t really need to know anything about Alan Moore’s Watchmen to appreciate the monument of sequential storytelling this single volume represents, but if you do, it can only serve to heighten your experience. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely remind us what comic books can do when a creative team makes full use of the medium’s potential.

ELENA’S TOP THREE FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014:

Batman Eternal #17 by Dustin Nguyen

Batman-Eternal-17

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Batgirl #34 by Alex Garner

Batgirl-34

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Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #3  by Jason Shawn Alexander

Legends 3

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ELENA’S FAVORITE OVERALL SERIES:

InjusticeYearTwo

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two

Injustice barely met the criteria for the “story” category seeing as the whole series is all one contiguous event, but I decided to call it out specially. It’s technically a sequel to Year One and therefore not quite stand-alone, but that does not diminish its overall accomplishments. Tom Taylor delivered a riveting installment every week digitally with a large art team working together and refining their visual storytelling over Year One (Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller, Rex Lokus, Xermanico, and more). Year Two also saw the deaths of many beloved characters and scored two of the only three 10s I’ve given since we began reviewing last summer.

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Josh McDonald’s Picks

JOSH’S TOP THREE FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014:

Detective Comics 36

“Terminal”

Detective Comics #35 & #36

By Ben Percy John Paul Leon

This short story really came out of nowhere for me. It consisted of a guest creative team, and I completely expected it to just be two months of filler nonsense. Surprisingly, the story was damn good and well written! The subject of terrorism and the way it’s presented is so on-point with current affairs, that it was a little unsettling. Benjamin Percy and John Paul Leon definitely made their point by forcing us to examine the reality of our time. It’s a darker, more serious, politically driven narrative, so it may not be for everyone, but it’s a story I’m proud to have in my collection.
GraysonFuturesEnd
“Only a Place for Dying”
Grayson: Futures End #1
Writer: Tom King
Art: Stephen Mooney
I loved this issue! I had a death in the family back in early September, rushed to fly home, and this issue was released the day before the funeral. I desperately needed an escape, so I picked up this book, and loved every second of it. I actually read it twice that night, and I’ve read it a few times since then as well. It’s a great message, and the story is told by moving backwards in time. It really was a nice surprise in a month of terrible releases.

InjusticeYearTwo

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two

I’m sort-of cheating with this since some issues were released in 2013, but if you want to get technical and only include the issues released in 2014, it would only solidify my choice even more. This book is epic! And not only epic, it was consistently epic! So many arcs tend to fall apart by the end or slow down in the middle, but this book just built on itself with each issue, until it finished superbly to close out Year 2. Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 had everything for me -action, drama, suspense, great characterization – and easily took my top spot for the year.
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JOSH’S TOP THREE FAVORITE BATMAN COVERS OF 2014:

Batwoman #34 by Rafael Albuquerque

Batwoman 34
Before anyone rags on this book, you have to admit that this is a great cover! If the old creative team had covered this arc, and included this cover, you know you’d be praising it like crazy! Don’t hate on it just because the narrative has been so bad.
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 Batman Eternal #14 by Dustin Nguyen

BATMAN ETERNAL #14
The moment I saw this cover, I knew I was going to love this issue. The Penguin is such an amazing character, but I love when we get to see how ruthless he really is, and this cover promised that. The drama and violence conveyed here by Dustin Nguyen is stunning!
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 Grayson #1 variant cover by Jock

Grayson 1 Variant Jock
I wish this would’ve been the actual cover of Grayson #1 – it’s so much better than the series cover. This cover by Jock was a variant from DC’s Batman 75h anniversary celebration. Everything about this is perfection. If ANYONE ever finds a poster of this, please contact me! I will send you money to purchase and ship it!
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JOSH’S FAVORITE QUOTES OF 2014:
“Time moves on. You start a new life. Part of it’s a defense mechanism. You don’t want to be defined by the terrible thing that happened. You don’t want to be hurt anymore. You want to be someone stronger. So you ‘try on’ different people.Until you find the right you.”
– Dick Grayson
Nightwing #29 “Safety Net” by Kyle Higgins
HARLEY QUINN
Wow, Black Canary. You look really calm for someone who's just caught exploding slippers!
Black Canary throws SLIPPERS and braces for an explosion. Nothing.
BLACK CANARY
They're not really exploding slippers are they?
HARLEY QUINN
Of course not. That would be crazy.
– Harley Quinn & Black Canary
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two #7 “The Quiver” by Tom Taylor
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BEST NON-BATMAN STORY THAT BATMAN NEWS COVERED ANYWAY:

Multiversity-Pax-Americana-1

“In Which We Burn”

The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 

By Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

This might surprise some of you that I didn’t put this at the top of my list! I raved about this issue upon it’s release, and did something I said I would never do – I gave a book a 10! This issue was dark, moody, carried tons of themes, and was so well written and illustrated across the board that it deserved every ounce of praise it received! If you didn’t read it, then please do so!

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Andrew Asberry’s Picks

 ANDREW’S FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014:
Clay
“Clay”
by Cliff Chiang
This beautifully illustrated coming of age story has Dick Grayson struggling to find acceptance from the peers in his personal life and his life as a super hero as he’s mercilessly tormented by the rich kids at his private school and mocked by the officers of the GCPD. It’s only by confronting a villain who has been twisted by similar doubts and miseries that Dick learns an important lesson about self-worth. This short story has a good message, great action, and the most well-written Clayface I’ve seen in some time.
Old School
“Old School”
By Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams
Hurwitz and Adams managed to showcase the evolution of The Caped Crusader from the 1930s to now all in one single short story. It’s really amazing to see how they paid tribute to so many different eras of the mythology from panel to panel in this post-modern piece that was part of the over-sized 75th Anniversary issue.
Twenty-Seven
“Twenty-Seven”
By Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy
I would love to see more of this high-concept take on The Dark Knight’s future. Not only does this story offer endless possibilities for new stories, but the artwork by Sean Murphy (Whose short story “Driven” would definitely be on my top three list from 2013) is bad ass.
Honorable Mentions: “Mark of the Phantasm”
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ANDREW’S FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014:

Detective Comics #37 variant by Darwyn Cooke

Detective 37 Variant
My most beloved cover of the year and my desktop wallpaper for the past three months or so. I just adore the precious few quiet moments in my Batman stories, especially when they show The Dark Knight at his most human and nothing illustrates that better than an exhausted Bruce being tended to by Alfred, who covers his master with a blanket like a father would a son. Absolutely beautiful image, this.
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 Batman and Robin #35 Halloween variant by Chris Burnham

Batman _ Robin Halloween
You won’t hear me wax poetic about this one. It’s Batman and Robin as mummies. It’s fun, imaginative, I like.
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Batman #28 by Greg Capullo

Batman 28
Minimalist, claustrophobic, and just an all-around cool concept that teases the reader in spectacular fashion. The question mark cut-out overlay turns this cover into a mystery door that you just have to walk through.
Honorable Mentions: Batman Eternal #1
Batman Eternal #39
Detective Comics #30
Batgirl #35

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Brandon Mulholand’s Picks

BRANDON’S TOP 3 FAVORITE STORIES OF 2014:
Batman-Annual-3
“Friends”
By James Tynion IV and Roge Antonio
This is one of the best Annuals I have read in the last 3 years. This is an awesome, over-sized Joker story, that requires no additional contextual knowledge in order to enjoy.  Reminiscent of the Annuals from the 80s.
Detective 35
“Terminal”
Detective Comics #35 & #36
By Ben Percy and John Paul Leon
Nothing “epic” or over the top, nothing tying into the rest of the DC universe or trying to sell me on another story.  This is just a very well written, thought provoking story.  Reminiscent of late 70s Batman stories.
Falcone-Penguin
Falcone/Penguin story arc
Batman Eternal #1-14
By Scott Snyder, Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, James Tynion IV, Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, Andy Clarke, Trevor McCarthy, Emanuel Simeoni, Guillem March, Ian Bertram, and Mikel Janin
Miss the days when Batman was just fighting with the mob, like street level police dramas, wanna see a turf war fought by rival gangs?  Well then, this is the story for you!  While there are some random issues thrown in that deal with other story arcs of Batman Eternal, the primary focus of the first act of Eternal is the rivalry that exists between Penguin and Falcone and the destruction that results from their conflict.
Honorable mentions:
“Icarus” (Detective Comics #30-34), by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul
If the last issue had not been such a disappointment, it would have easily been my #1 choice.
Grayson: Futures End #1, by Tom King and Stephen Mooney
Great story, not so great art.  Better art and it would have been my #2.
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BRANDON’S TOP 3 FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014:

Detective Comics #27 by Greg Capullo

Detective 27
This is quintessential Batman.  Enough said.
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Detective Comics: Futures End #1 by Jason Fabok

DetectiveFuturesEnd
This is one of the lenticular covers from Futures End month.  I spent an entire paragraph gushing over this cover in my review for this comic.  So if you need details on why I think it is so spectacular, just check out the review.
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 Batman Eternal #20 by Alex Garner

Eternal20
Really, I could have chosen any Alex Garner cover for this spot and it would have been equally as good.  His work is just so beautiful.  I was also considering Batgirl #34 for this position, but decided to go with Eternal since it had Gordon and Batman as well.
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BRANDON’S TOP 3 FAVORITE SINGLE ISSUES OF 2014:

batman37

Batman #37 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Why is this my number one pick for best single issue of the year?  The Gordon scene actually elicited an emotional response from me!  The static images and atmosphere were far more panic inducing than any live acting film I’d seen in years.  You expect to get a sense of urgency when watching a movie, it was surprising to get that feeling from reading a comic that doesn’t force you into a pace.
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Eternal 18
Batman Eternal #18 by Tim Seeley and Andy Clarke
Riveting action, plenty of humor, well paced with a nice flow, and thought provoking.  This wasn’t even a very important issue, but everything fell into place so perfectly, I couldn’t disregard it as one of my  favorite issues of the year.
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Eternal 32
Batman Eternal #32 by Kyle Higgins and Jason Fabok
Action packed, emotional, and expertly paced.  This issue is filled with dynamic/fact paced action, but doesn’t hesitate to slow down and allow you time to breath in the quieter moments.

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Jesse Kennedy’s Picks

JESSE’S TOP 3 FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014:

GraysonFuturesEnd
“Only a Place for Dying”
Grayson: Futures End #1
Writer: Tom King
Art: Stephen Mooney
Cover:Andrew Robinson
This is such a brilliant story. It must be read from cover to cover twice to fully understand all that transpires within its pages. Even then, the subject matter is deep and challenges the very foundations our Bat-mythos is built upon. It’s an issue that inspires debate and communal admiration, and it’s my favorite of the year.
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Savage City
“Zero Year: Savage City”
Batman #30-33
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plasencia
There are so many layers to this issue. Capullo’s pencils are magnificent as always, Snyder lands a solid ending, and FCO’s colors have never played such an integral role in telling such a deep story. The battle between the Riddler and Batman is epic. Gordon is treated well. It’s a fantastic read through and through and my favorite Scott Snyder story…yet (Endgame?!)
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Robin Rises
“Robin Rises”
Robin Rises: Omega, Batman and Robin #33-37, Robin Rises: Alpha
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Penciller/Artist: Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, Andy Kubert
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Brad Anderson
It’s not at all what you’d expect to be reading in a major Batman title, but it is a lot of fun. How often do you ever get to see Batman physically go beat-em-up crazy on another planet and fight off a god? It’s absurd and amusing, yet the heart of the matter never leaves the forefront of your mind. It’s a quick and exciting read!
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JESSE’S TOP THREE FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014:

Batman #35 by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia

Batman 35
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 Batman/Superman #13 variant cover by Dan Jurgens and Alex Sinclair

Supes 13
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 Batman Eternal #1 by Jason Fabok

Eternal #1

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Sean Buckley’s Picks

 

SEAN’S FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014:

Justice League 3000

“The Past Lives!”

Justice League 3000 #1-10

By J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, and Howard Porter

I did not know what to expect when I first picked up this book.  The premise was entirely original to me, and the idea of what I considered the distant future was appealing.  With a story helmed by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, Justice League 3000 has been able to consistently craft a dynamic and satisfying tale.  The use of classic characters in new roles with distinctly different personalities than what I was accustomed to allowed the writers freedom to create a universe all their own.  The newly-reborn Justice League takes on a malicious group of conquerors known as The Five.  They must learn to adapt to not only their new time but also new powers and teammates.  It raises the question of what makes a hero: the powers or the people wielding them?  The artwork of Howard Porter is distinct in its usage of close-ups and vibrant colors to compliment the story.  There are few with such a distinct and recognizable style that can blend so perfectly with the action on the page.

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Kryptonian

“The Kryptonian”

Earth 2 #21-26

By Tom Taylor, Trevor Scott, and Nicola Scott

There are few books that I look forward to more than Earth 2.  The list is actually one, and you can guess which one that is.  Earth 2 began as little more than a book of gatherings, where heroes were born and developed for the eventual threat they would have to face.  When that threat arrived, the planet was literally torn between the forces of two Kryptonians – one the aggressor, the other a defender.  Tom Taylor reminds us (though no one needed reminding) that he is the premier author at telling an “evil Superman” story.  Eddy Barrows’ artwork also delivers on a high level, breathing life into the myriad characters that make up the cast of Earth 2.  While my disdain for the closing chapter of this storyline is well-documented, I can’t help but look back with nostalgic glee at the best that Earth 2 had to offer. Batman plays a massive role in “The Kryptonian” saga in that he takes a leadership role among the new Wonders. Thomas is willing to do the things other Wonders won’t, and has the will to act that Earth 2 needs in its most dire of hours.

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The Meek

“The Meek”

Batman #34

By Scott Snyder and Matteo Scalera

This one-shot following the events of Zero Year caught me by surprise in the best of ways.  It is a very simple story: there is a killer in Gotham, and the Dark Knight must stop him.  Batman shows off some of his detective skills, which have been in short supply these last few years, not just in comics but in all manner of media.  The threat to the city feels real and intimate with Scott Snyder and Gerry Duggan bringing to light the psychosis and madness of a murderer.  Matteo Scalera takes over for Greg Cappulo in the artwork department, but delivers a chilling and at times terrifying depiction of a lone lunatic haunting the streets of Gotham.

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SEAN’S FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014:

Earth 2 #18 original solicited cover

Earth2-18cover

This cover never went to print.

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Grayson #5 by Mikel Janin

Grayson - 5

Another one fresh in my mind, the minimalist style of the artwork and the sheer scope which every panel is given inspires a beautiful cover by Mikel Janin.

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Batman #31 by Greg Capullo

Batman 31

Damn, just damn.

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Jay Yaws’ Picks

JAY’S FAVORITE BATMAN STORIES OF 2014

GraysonFuturesEnd
“Only a Place for Dying”
Grayson: Futures End #1
Writer: Tom King
Art: Stephen Mooney
Cover:Andrew Robinson
Whether it belongs to a future that may or may not come to be doesn’t matter.  This issue was an example of airtight storytelling.  The reverse narrative could have been a gimmick, but it paid off masterfully, to the point that the story makes sense whether you read it chronologically or as written.  A great entry in a series that’s taking risks and fulfilling them each month. I want Nightwing back as much as the next person, but as long as we’re getting great stories like this in the interim I’m ok with that.
Batman 66 13
“Don’t Change That Bat Channel” & “The Bat Host With the Most” two-parter
Written by Gabriel Soria
Art by Dean Haspiel & Allen Passalaqua
Just pure fun.  Everything I love about this series is in full play here: tremendous writing, a perfect tongue-in-cheek tone, vibrant illustrations, and perfectly paced.  One of two perfect scores I’ve given, and with good reason.
Lost-Episode

“The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face”

Batman ‘66: The Lost Episode #1

By Harlan Ellison, Len Wein, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1- A great story on its own, the sheer pedigree and history behind it alone is worth checking it out: plotted by Harlan Ellison, scripted by Len Wein, illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with colors by Alex Sinclair, and an alternate cover from Alex Ross.  Realizing a long lost script is something that can only be done easily in the comic book medium, and it’s done very well here, giving us a snapshot of a series that was still in its infancy with the ambitious storytelling of a literary legend.

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JAY’S FAVORITE COVERS OF 2014

Batman ’66 #14 selfie variant cover by Joe Quinones

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Grayson #5 by Mikel Janin

Grayson - 5

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Batman Eternal #39 by Tommy Lee Edwards

Batman Eternal 39
Best Mechanical Dinosaur:
Emily Brontesaurus, Batman ’66 #17 (there’s a picture of it in the review if you wanted to use it)
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Best Lines:
“I’ll give you the Bat-business.”
–Fake TV Batman, Batman ’66 #13
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“Stop crying and get ready to expose yourself right now!”
–Robin, Teen Titans Go! #7
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Best Miniseries:
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse
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Biggest Surprise:
Gotham Academy
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Tell us your own favorites of 2014 in the comments section below! Also, be sure to thank Elena for the awesome 2014 photo that kicked off this article.