I walked into a comic book shop down the street from where I worked on a lunch break recently and there on the new release rack there was a comic book seemingly taunting me.
The Amazing Spider-Man Annual for 2011.
Those stupid annuals. I’d like to say they’re the forgotten part of my quest, but in reality they’re ignored. The once a year releases that are technically part of the Amazing Spider-Man universe but oftentimes rarely tie-in to the current storylines. I know that’s not always the case – the first ever Amazing Spider-Man Annual introduced the supervillain supergroup (think Led Zeppelin without the devil worshipping) the Sinister Six and Annual #21 was the marriage of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane. But there are also a bunch of annuals out there that are reprints of earlier issues, or in the case of this year’s annual, #38, are used to market and promote characters from other comics like Deadpool, the Hulk, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this – if people want to buy a comic to read content from an older book, or to get a storyline that involves a variety of different superheroes, that sounds great. But from a collecting standpoint, I just don’t know how to approach the “annual question.” If you reference my site’s right sidebar, I very definitively say I don’t count annuals in my chase. Of course I own some of the annuals. And in the case of #38 it was right there on the shelf so I picked it up. But I still have a hard time resolving this idea that they’re part of my ultimate “quest.” If I happen to achieve my comic book nirvana and get every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, but I’m still missing about a dozen of the annuals, have I not really achieved my goals? This is some heavy duty stuff folks and I would love some input.
Here’s another problem I have with the Annuals. For about 10 years, I’ve actually been a subscriber to Amazing Spider-Man. While I love the local comic book shop as much as the next guy, and the physical act of picking up a comic and buying is a more personable, touchy-feely story, the subscription saves me some time and money. Just like any other periodical, a yearly subscription costs less than getting each individual issue, and I also don’t have to worry about getting to the comic book shop on every new release day and tracking down ASM. This is especially valuable for issues that are in high demand, like when ASM had a President Obama “feature” a few years ago after the 2008 election. Or when ASM published three times a month the past few years. That’s a lot of lunch hours lost buying comics.
But despite being a subscriber, I have never received an Annual from Marvel. Not that I was ever promised one, but with other magazine subscriptions, the equivalent of an “Annual” feels like something that should be a perk for the loyal customers. Heck, Sports Illustrated sends me a sweatshirt every year. You’re telling me that Marvel can’t send me the ASM Annual every year instead of making me go out to the store and buy it?
And here’s the other thing, I never know when these things come out. When I reach the end of an Amazing Spider-Man issue, I always know what the next issue is going to be about (or at least a small preview), but I very rarely get a peek at any spinoffs, crossovers or annuals. Instead, I have to time my visit to the comic book shop just right, so I can find the Annual towards the front of the rack and rather than being buried with the “back issues.”
With all this said, I will eventually get all the Annuals, just because I’m too obsessive of a personality not to. But not anytime soon. And just to make peace of things, I’m going to continue with my life under the guise that the Annuals are not part of my chase. And if any of you out there feel that this irrational attitude cheapens my chase, please let me know. Because your response may actually torture me enough to reconsider for a few seconds, until I completely forget it and ultimately miss out on when ASM Annual 39 comes out next year, because I didn’t even know it existed.