Monday, July 30, 2018
You know what would make a pretty cool series of trade collections?
This month's release of Superman Blue Vol. 1 included the 1997 "Pulp Heroes"-themed Superman annual, which reminded me of these annuals' existence. And made me want to check out more of them.
This was was, of course, back when annuals were published on a regular basis. Like, once a year. You know, annually. And ongoing comic books were a lot more stable. Like, it's hard to imagine seeing another tenth annual of a modern Big Two super-comic, let alone a twenty-first annual. Anyway, the theme is probably pretty obvious, but basically they were in-continuity stories featuring there heroes in the sorts of genre stories that pre-dated superhero comics in pulp magazines: Horror, western, crime and detective fiction, and so on. You'll notice that there are some DC Comics phrases attached, too, like "My Greatest Adventure" and "Weird Western Tales."
I'm not quite sure what the appetite might be for such an endeavor in the market, beyond, you know, me, but I read a handful of them. I remember the Aquaman, Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight, Green Lantern, and, especially, the Hitman annual all being particularly great. Robin had some fun moments, and I know I read both the Batman and the JLA ones, although I have no memory of either--save for the back-up in the JLA annual, which introduced a minor Kingdom Come villain into the DCU (and I don't think we ever saw him/them again, did we?).
The fully-painted covers were, of course, particularly great, and there are a few of those I wouldn't mind hanging in a frame on my wall (Like that Aquaman one; wow). Additionally, each is a completely-complete story featuring the World's Greatest Heroes...and also some other heroes (like, Tommy Monaghan, Azrael, Dan Jurgen's Teen Titans, Confusing Post-Crisis Supergirl. And I guess Superman and Aquaman bear their late-'90s signifiers, which might make them less marketable now).
Of course, because they are annuals, they are extra-long, and so I doubt you could fit all 18 into a single collection comfortably. I suppose DC could did it in three or so collections, though, and like their recent Zero Hour collections, they could be grouped into families. For example, there are four Superman annuals, plus one for Supergirl and Superboy. There are four Batman annuals, and Azrael, Catwoman, Robin and Nightwing all had annuals. There was a JLA annual and Leaguers Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman all had annuals of their own. That leaves just Hitman, Teen Titans, Impulse and Starman to stick in somewhere. Or they could just spread them out differently, so that, like, each collection had a Batman and Superman annual, or whatever.
Reviewing the credits of who did what on them, there are a lot of the people you would expect to have their names attached to DC comics in 1997, like Dan Jurgens, Chuck Dixon, Devin K. Grayson, and so on. Those of perhaps particular interest to modern readers include Jim Aparo, Eduardo Barreto, John Byrne, John Cassaday, Peter David, Dale Eaglesham, Garth Ennis, Russ Heath, James Robinson and J.H. Williams III.