I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Annual Issue

As anyone, who has noted, to complete The Batman Quest I have decided that the Annuals of the many titles ought to be picked up as well. This is easier than I could have ever thought. They are really easy to come across and very cheap to buy.

I realise that this is because the Annual is used by Marvel and DC as a way of getting the fan to pick up one extra comic in a title that they usually have on their pull list. Sadly, the universal comic theory with annuals is that they usually suck, and many just lurk about in comic shops years after their publication. For example, in my other collections I have picked up several Punisher annuals that suck so bad that the comic bag it's stored in is actually airtight.

However, from the various Batman annuals I have picked up 'annuals suck' isn't necessarily the key phrase I would use. Oh no, Batman annuals tend to be about as weird and fubar'd as any mainstream superhero comic book should be allowed to be. And as such they are really interesting as a result.

I'm sure that the regular writers of the early nineties Batman used the annuals, and other one-shots as a way to let off a lot of frustrations about being editorially constrained by mainstream Batman comics. Especially when you discover that a lot of the regular Batman writers have political and social beliefs that may be deemed revolutionary by some (and I truly think that this is one of the main reasons why I thoroughly adore this period of Batman. The subtexts in this period were certainly politically vague!).

Take 'Shadow of the Bat' Annual #2 by Alan Grant with art by a number of others. Here there is a proper 'what if' at play: What if Batman went another path after the death of his parents and became supreme capitalist dictator of Gotham City? Well for Alan Grant this Annual becomes a proper vehicle of political deviance and subversion! I'm not going to review this book, but if ever anyone wants to understand the real thinking is behind the character 'Anarky' it is found buried in here.

Therefore, if anyone, who plans to get into Batman and picks up any Batman Annuals, please don't think that these things are typical Gotham fare. They're not supposed to be. They're not even there to further a bigger plot. Batman Annuals, certainly from the 1990's are designed to be from Out There. For me, for that is their charm.