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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 5 comics last week: Batman Annual #1, Superman Annual #1, Star Wars Annual #2, Black Widow #8 and JLA #10.
The best comic I read last week was Batman Annual #1.
Reading comic book annuals, and enjoying them, is a tricky proposition. There was a time when annuals told chapters of ongoing comic narratives and they were episodes of stories that could not be missed. Then there were the years when annuals, especially as published by DC Comics, were interlocking chapters of broader events (J.L.Ape, anyone?). Sometimes annuals have been new talent showcases. Most often now, though, they tell stories that take place somewhere to the left of continuity, outside the ongoing narrative of a character and can be missed.
Refreshing, then, that this week I read 3 annuals that were excellent. And, while Star Wars Annual #2 and Superman Annual #1 were both wonderful, Batman Annual #1, was truly outstanding. It was also something of a throw back in that it harkened to a time when comics published Christmas themed issues. Featuring a collection of Batman Christmas stories written and illustrated by tremendous Bat-Talent (Dini!, Adams!, Snyder!, Shalvey! and more!), Batman Annual #1 was well worth the increased cover cost if only for one installment: “Good Boy” by Tom King and David Finch.
The premise doesn’t do the story justice (Alfred gives Batman a Christmas gift) but to say more about it might ruin much of the fun. Suffice it to say that I smiled throughout the narrative. Broadly. Well written by King, very well drawn by Finch, the story is the centerpiece of a collection of Christmas tales that are a cut above typical monthly fare, not to mention typical annual fare.
I loved the issue and plan to visit it again before Christmas.