By Chris Tresson
We’re nearing the end of the year and that means it’s annual season in the comic book industry… Since becoming a comic book shop owner, I’ve been paying more attention to annuals (I’ve picked up a fair few this year purely because I can.) Before that all I ever got was Daredevil annuals and Batman annuals.
In my experience, Batman annuals are usually not that great and I only ever read them because I thought they’d offer a little bit of extra insight to what was going on in the ongoing series. All of these stories in this annual are standalone tales with some big DC creatives involved. Let’s get into this.
First of all, this should’ve been called The Batman Christmas Special, not annual. Every story in here is Christmas themed/centered around Christmas… Apart from the theme, they all have one other thing in common: They’re all fucking terrible. Some are more ho-ho-fucking-horrible than others. Let’s break annual down.
The first story by Tom King and David Finch, shows how Bruce came to own Ace the Bat-Hound. There’s a complete retcon of the dog’s origin and it’s fucking lame. Some of the art is nice but it’s not enough to distract from the awful story. At this point I’m thinking that they intentionally put this first because it might possibly be the worst story in here and they can only improve from here…
The next story, ladies and gentlemen, is written by Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes and drawn by artist Declan Shalvey. This story is by far the worst in here simple because it does not tell a story, it’s a brief moment stretched over eight pages. I get what he’s trying to communicate in the story but it’s not something I want to pay $4.99 to read in a Batman comic… The art and color work are probably the best in here. That’s the only thing this one had going for it but saying that, there wasn’t anything in it that I feel would really challenge the art team.
Third story in and I’m starting to regret my decision to review this book. This one’s from Paul Dini and Neal Adams and features Harley Quinn. It’s a car journey between Batman and Harley Quinn which is kinda like Carpool Karaoke… I threw my head back laughing at this one. There’s a point where Harley is barking like a dog, “ARF ARF ARF ARF ARF ARF” and there’s a fucking asterisk to clarify that it’s “to the tune of Jingle Bells”. Holy shit that’s bad. As for Neal Adams’ art it’s… Neal Adams art.
The penultimate story by Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo is probably the best one in here storywise and I was quite enjoying it until I realised that it was just a set-up for a terrible character they plan to introduce into the DCU… Nice art, though. I can’t complain there.
The last story from Scott Bryan Wilson and Bilquis Evely was going great and I thought I was going to be able to tell you there’s at least one story in here that had nothing in it that I completely hated. It was all going great until the last page and then Batman’s dialogue goes to shit and ruins it for me. Again, the art was nice but the story disappointed.
Overall, it was pretty bad. It offered absolutely nothing that would make me suggest you go out and buy it. It’s easily skippable and you honestly will not kick yourself at any point for passing on it. I was expecting a lot more with this amount of talent on show… That’ll teach me.
Batman Annual #1
Publisher: DC Comics