Ah, the Annual. When I first started reading comics in the late 1970's, I loved 'em. And why not? For a few extra coins, you got a much bigger comic. And back then, the story mostly stood (or fell as the case may be) on its own. Almost always a done-in-one, with a notable exception being Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13 in 1979, which was continued into the first ever Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual.

I now know that Annuals have had quite the history at Marvel and DC. In the late 50's and early 60's, DC collected past stories to make one giant sized reprint; Marvel gave readers an original lead story with one or more reprints. DC let Annuals fall by the wayside and put reprints into 100 page Super-Spectaculars and the like. Starting (I think) in the early 1970's, Marvel went reprint only with their Annuals, but by 1976 reversed course. Annuals were back, super-sized with original stories and no reprints. DC followed suit in the early 1980's - for instance, the very first Justice League of America Annual was released in the early 1980's, despite the title being around for two decades. Things continued like this until the late 1980's, when crossover craziness ensued, with a single storyline taking place over the whole line, or one storyline between a number of annuals, or some variation on that. My own natural, er, let us say "thriftiness" soured me on that, but I'm guessing at least for the first few years, these mega-sized stories were a hit, as they kept doing them. But eventually both companies stopped around 2000; and then after about five years, Annuals made yet another comeback. I'm about 85% sure that the current revival can be credited to Marvel's Ultimate line, which had Annuals for each title and they were a smashing success, so much so, that titles like Black Panther, Iron Fist, and Nova had their first ever Annuals within the last few years.

Anyhoo, with all the various Annuals over the decades, I was wondering which ones were favorites of the Legion. So share, my friends, share!

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When I was a kid I got a hold of Superboy Annual #1 from 1993 or 1994. It was the second part of an Elseworlds story. I finally got the first part from Adventures of Superman Annual whatever the number was about a month ago. That Superboy issue is still one of my favorite comics. It's about an alien invasion that hit earth and there are only a handful of heroes left after 10 years to make a final stand.

Recently, the Avengers the Initiative Annuals have been good. They've revealed more about the new characters that have been introduced in the series.

Ultimates 2 Annuals 1 & 2 have both been good, this was a few years ago. The first one was all about a day in the life of Ultimate Nick Fury, or maybe a week in the life. Anways good stuff. The 2nd annual was about Captain America and the Falcon on a cross country trip cleaning up the mess after the 2nd story arc in Ultimates 2 (it's funny because the 2nd arc hadn't concluded yet). It was a fun story if I remember correctly. It put a slightly different spin on the Cap/Falcon relationship.

Finally, one of my biggest back issue finds ever Amazing Spider-man Annual #21. The Wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, a classic.

This one blew my mind as a kid, and sent me scrambling for a copies of Bulfinch, Hamilton and any other references on Norse or Greek mythology.
Probably my favorite Annual is Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1. To me, reading this annual was when I realized just how good the Levitz/Giffen team was. Lots of suspense, lots of action, lots of characterization -- and it introduced Jacques Foccart, one of my favorite legionnaires -- as well as the return of Shvaughn Erin, who would go on to much greater prominence in the series.

As a kid...

One of most well-read comics. I think I even tried to "jazz" up the logo by drawing on it.

Some of my favorite Annuals come from New Teen Titans. I loved the way in which big stories like "The Judas Contract" and "Starfire vs. Blackfire" were finished up in the Annuals.
Fantastic Four Annuals #1-6 are the standard by which all other annuals are measured.
The 1998 Fantastic Four Annual really stands out to me as a fantastic story that just beautifully ties everything that's wonderful and unique about the Fantastic Four together in a "kind of" alternate history for the FF.

Also, I remember the Secret Origins Annual featuring the Teen Titans, which felt so extremely comprehensive to me, even though I knew so little of the characters. It made me want to find every issue featuring every story in that book.
The Flash Annual/80 Page Giant from 1965 reprinting "Flash of Two Worlds". That issue made me a Flash fan. Not only did you get the seminal Earth One-Earth Two story but it also included several tales featuring various Rogues Gallery favorites like Grodd and Dr. Alchemy.

A close second would be the 1977 Avengers/Marvel Two in One crossover annuals in which Jim Starlin wrapped up his original Warlock saga. Starlin hit his peak as writer and as artist with that one.
doc photo said:
the 1977 Avengers/Marvel Two in One crossover annuals in which Jim Starlin wrapped up his original Warlock saga. Starlin hit his peak as writer and as artist with that one.

Ooohh, those were good. I'd forgotten about that wrap up.

Too bad Starlin thought it was so good too; he's been telling the same story over and over again ever since.
Rich Lane said:
Ooohh, those were good. I'd forgotten about that wrap up.

Too bad Starlin thought it was so good too; he's been telling the same story over and over again ever since.

You've got that right! As much as I love Starlin's work from that period I don't much care for what followed.

My favorite part of Marvel's early annuals were the extras after the main story. Encyclopedia like pages of Mole Man, Skrulls, Namor, Dr. Doom, etc., details of the Baxter Building, a special page on each of the heroes (with info like Mr. Fantastic can stretch a maximum of (I think) 75 yards on a good day. And of course the first Silver Surfer story, with the page of him making Quasimodo humanoid so popular they made a black light poster and a jigsaw puzzle of it. "Thus, you shall suffer no longer!" "I'm changing...changing!" 

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