Just perusing the DC releases in upcoming months and spotted this: Teen Titans Annual #1 by Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman!
Holy cow! An honest and for-true boney fido annual! An annual just like my mother’s comic book company used to make. The kind of epic extra-long story that needed extra pages but didn’t cost quite as much as twice the price of a regular story. I loved these things. Annuals were those comics that the writers saved their BIG stories for. Sometimes a major story arc would build and build and then conclude in an epic annual where Terra has her showdown with the team she betrayed or Professor Stein dies just as the U.S. Government tries to nuke Firestorm. Dang, but I loved annuals back in the 1980s.
Then they decided to do theme annuals. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it started in 1991 with “Armageddon: 2001” in which we got to see fantastic stories of the possible future. That was fun! Then came Eclipso (meh!) and Bloodlines (BLECH!) and Elseworlds (awesome!) and Legends of the Dead Earth (oh, what sweet bilge is this?) and Pulp Stories (so-so)…and I don’t even recall the order anymore, but there were Ghosts (a maudlin revisit to dead characters), Planet DC (made the multicultural SuperFriends characters look great), JLApe and others, mostly JLA-centered and all mediocre.
From 1995 onward, I can recall only a few truly great annuals and they were all ones where a writer managed to turn out an excellent story despite the theme. The two Starman annuals being the best such example.
There was a Legion Annual where Xs met Barry Allen. I loved that, though it does have a silly moment where Barry opens his secret ring and changes into his Flash costume right in front of his granddaughter who can see at superspeed. (I don’t think they thought that through.) Unfortunately, that’s only a diversion for a few pages before a regrettably boring “Dead Earth” story.
Anyway, the Annuals seemed to die off a few years back. I’m sure it was mostly due to lack of interest and partly because the stories couldn’t compare in “epic” feel to the epic stories that are now told in 1/6ths proportions in every comic book on the rack. Plus, what will an annual cost in an age where a plain ol’ comic book now costs $3? (Answer? $5.)
But I’m glad to see that DC has not only brought back the annual but they’re going for a REAL annual. Just a self-contained (well, maybe, it’s all tied in to Infinite Crisis, etc.) story told well; no crossovers, no themes, no events. Keep it up!