I read through all of the DC New 52 annuals from last week – Detective Comics, Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League International and Superman – and what jumped out at me was that not one of them was a standalone story; the closest were JLI and Superman, neither of which were direct continuations of storylines from the ongoing title, but in both cases, they set up things that’ll play out in future issues (or other series). That’s not to say that they weren’t any good (The Flash Annual was so good, in fact, that I ended up going out and picking up the issues of the series I’d missed), but I found myself oddly nostalgic for the days when an annual meant an entirely standalone story that showcased the series for newcomers.
And yet – When was the last time an annual did that? Marvel’s annuals are mini-crossover events, it seems like, with three annuals forming one storyline in most cases, and the others reading like extended fill-ins instead of Big Stories That Had To Be Told. Thinking back, I remember a lot of “Summer Events” taking over annuals of my youth – The Evolutionary War! Eclipso: The Darkness Within! Atlantis Attacks! Armageddon 2001! – and it strikes me that the kind of annual I find myself wanting is something that hasn’t really been the norm for more than two decades.
So am I just being an old man? Are annuals best served by connecting them to the monthly titles or each other, especially in this kind of market, or do other people long for the days where you could pay your $4.99 (Five dollars for a comic book etc.) and have a complete done-in-one experience that felt like an event in and of itself?