Thursday, June 9, 2016

If I Had A Buck... Summer Annuals!

Martinex1:   The calendar may not say Summer has started yet, but the kids are out of school and the neighborhood is filled with the sounds of basketballs bouncing, the squeals from trampolines and pools, the sing-song of ice cream truck tunes, and the bursts of firecrackers.

I have always enjoyed June and remember the childhood joy of waking up with no cares, wolfing down a bowl of Fruit Loops and slamming through the screen door to get outside for another day of whiffle ball, street hockey, eating snow cones, and firefly catching.   I clearly remember sticking my paper route money into the elastic of my knee-high tube socks and sprinting across the four-lane intersection to the corner drug store to look for the latest comics on the spinner rack.

And it was around this time of year that the Annuals started appearing.   Not one, but TWO issues of The Avengers on the rack at the same time!  Big thick 50 cent editions of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and  Marvel Two-In-One were there also!  I quickly decided to skip the blue-raspberry Slushee, Marathon Bar, and Bottle Caps and get as many comics as I could.  

Annuals did not always contain the best scripted stories or the usual art team, but there was something magical about them.  The first annual I purchased with my own money was Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11.  It contained a rather pedestrian story about a trio of stuntmen hired to wear spider-like super-suits to take on our beloved Peter Parker.  It contained some of the first artwork of John Romita Jr. and to this day I still wait for those rather weak villains to make another appearance.  I must have read that issue thirty times that month.  It is strange how much I remember about that book from the venom tipped rapier to the scene with Mary Jane repeating her lines as a movie extra, "Peas and carrots.  Peas and carrots."

Another favorite of mine was Avengers Annual #9.  I picked that one up at a 7-11 in Colorado on a family vacation road trip on the way to the Grand Tetons.   The convenience store was adjacent to a KOA Campground where we stayed for a night, and my brother and I were out exploring.   This one had Don Newton art and the tale of Arsenal, a doomsday type robot, living in the sub-basements of Avengers Mansion.  I read that comic until the cover fell off.  I remember getting scolded by my Dad because I was reading in the back seat of the car instead of enjoying the majestic mountain scenery of the American west.  Decades later I replaced that issue with a much less worn copy from Doug's ebay offerings.  Others may say that the best Avengers Annual was #7 with the Thanos showdown or #10 with the Michael Golden art, but this one is all about nostalgia for me so it remains my favorite.

So here we are together yet again for another $1.00 Challenge.   Spend your money wisely as you choose just two issues this time (hey, they are double-sized after all) from the long list of selections below.  Whether you want 64 pages of humor or heroes, let us know what drove your decisions.  From Atlantis Attacks to Archie, what were your Summer Annual and seasonal memories?   Which year presented the best set of annuals?   And what were your all-time favorites?


david_b said...

Wow and WOW.. Fantastic covers on nearly all of 'em.

My favorite memory will always, ALWAYS be my 'First Summer of Marvel', yes my initial entrance into the uber-cool Marvel Universe.., when a newly minted, 10yr old Zuvembie literally stalked the quiet, quasi-rural, yet unsuspecting small town of Beaver Dam, WI (population 14,000..). FOOM was mere months away.

(Yes this is the start of a 'no sh**, there I was' story..)

My Mom and I entered the local pharmacy store on nowhere-near bustling Main Street around 9am. On the racks.... (I shudder..)

KingSize Spiderman 9 (The Goblin Lives) and KingSize Fantastic Four 10 (Reed-Sue Marriage reprint, 'Bedlam at the Baxter Building') with EVERYONE represented in these few pages of unadulterated excitement.

I shuddered yet again.

Most certainly I didn't have a buck, nor did my Mom offer one. But I could get one for 35 cents.

Thomas Paine was clearly wrong.. "THESE are the times that try men's souls....."

When "10 minutes can seem like hours..."

I went for Spidey, gratified a decision was finally worked out, yet a gentle tear formed as I waved my goodbye to the other issue, which one day would thrill me.

Lesson for me..: Life seldom ever tops the peak exuberance of our remembered and relished youths.

Anonymous said...

You were so lucky - in the UK our school Summer holidays didn't begin till around July 20th and we were back in school by early September. And we didn't get these annuals either (well, not where I lived anyway). It's really tough choosing only two but I'll go for Conan because Conan was always terrific - and Doctor Strange, who has always been one of my favourite Marvel characters.

david_b said...

Not to go off-topic, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY EDO..!!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday from me too, Edo. By the way, if anybody is interested and doesn't already know - Dark Horse comics will soon be releasing a five issue crossover of Tarzan and Planet Of The Apes,.."Tarzan On The Planet Of The Apes".

Doug said...

Anyone's birthday is certainly worth mentioning around here -- so wishes for a great day from me as well, Edo!

I have owned 11 of the comics pictured, and as others have already said, you couldn't beat the excitement of these extra-large books. I distinctly recall choosing to pass on the Cap annual pictured due to the Kirby art. Jack's second run at Marvel was not appreciated by young Doug at the time. Most annuals, however, have proven to be less than stellar. But the thrill generated when you realized that it was "about that time" for the annuals to land on the spinner rack. Fond memories...


david_b said...

Wow, Colin, whaaaaat a cryptic title.., never would have guessed.

How WILL we ever find that in the LCS's...?


Redartz said...

Ah, Martinex1- you got me in a soft spot today; thinking about Summer and about Annuals! Those extra-sized issues were always a highlight of the summer months, and still evoke memories of the time (as you so engagingly demonstrated with your Spidey annual). The first annual I recall buying was as a youngster- Spider-Man Annual 5, with the tale of Peter Parker's parents. That incredibly Romita cover with the swirling green vortex captivated my 7 year old mind and took my quarter allowance money.

Bronze-age wise, I have fond memories of Spider-Man annual 10 (the Human Fly). I was taking driver's ed in summer school at the time, and after a session in the 'simulator' my buddy and I walked downtown to check out the week's comics. Lo and behold, there was the Spidey annual, first annual since 73 (which I missed being away from Marvel at the time; good grab there david_b). The story itself was fairly unremarkable, but it had nice Kane art. And it was an Annual!

For my choices today, though: a very tough call. But...I will go with the Defenders Annual (which I had originally, seems like it was pretty good) and the Archie Annual (yes, my weakness for humor breaks out again). And hey, that will leave me a quarter for a Fanta Red Cream Soda. Yes!!!

Redartz said...

Oh, and Happy Birthday Edo!

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmm, thanks for the b-day wishes everyone...

Martinex: oh, yeah, annuals, the special summertime bonus for comics fans. Loved 'em. Still do - in fact, many (most, actually) of the rare single issues I've bothered to re-acquire in recent years are annuals, so I now have the Batman, Defenders, Dr. Strange and Avengers annuals pictured. And yes, that Avengers annual is quite good and also a personal, sentimental favorite of mine, made additionally cooler by the fact it features some of Don Newton's rare Marvel artwork (it was such a perfect fit for that moody, somber story).

Some of your closing questions have been covered here before to some extent; in fact, I know one of those DIY posts I did was about annuals, but I don't remember exactly when it was posted, so I had trouble finding it in the BAB archives. Regardless, my favorite by far is X-man Annual #3 (but also Annuals 4 and 5), Avengers Annuals 9 (obviously) and 10, and a few runners up include Fantastic Four Annuals 14 and 17, Spider-man Annuals 10 (my first annual ever), 13, 14, 15, and 16, Batman Annual 8, Hulk Annuals 7 and 8, and I could go on at length...
Since you asked about a favorite year as well, although I never really thought about it before, I realized (and double-checked) that X-men Ann. 3, Avengers Ann. 9, ASM Ann. 13, FF Ann. 14 and Hulk Ann. 8 all came out in 1979, so that's my choice.

As for your one-dollar challenge, since I can only pick two, I'll go for two I've never had: Conan Annual 5 and Superman Annual 9 - the first because, as Colin notes, you can't go wrong with an extra-sized done-in-one Conan story with great art by Big John (it also came out in that stellar year, 1979!) and the second because that's just an awesome cover, and I think the story inside was drawn by Alex Toth.

dbutler16 said...

I can't choose just two! Most of these look awesome. I'm going to concentrate on ones that I don't already have, and haven't read. Based on that, I'll go with:
Hulk #6, because it has Dr. Strange and Warlock, and looks like some good, old fashioned, turn-off-the-brain fun.
Thor #7 because aside from being a Roy Thomas joint, it has the Eternals and Celestials.
When it comes to Annuals, it's all about guest stars, baby!

Doug said...

So I never answered the question.

If I had to choose, I'd go for the Avengers and the Defenders. Runners-up would be Iron Man (because of the Champions) and Conan.

But that FF one was cool, too...


Garett said...

Annuals were always exciting to see. I never knew Sgt Rock had annuals-- nice Kubert cover!

I'll get Teen Titans, cause it was the best comic of its time, and Captain America for Kirby.

I'd take a look at Iron Man with the Champions, Avengers for the Newton art, Defenders and Dr. Strange for the exciting covers, and Madhouse cause it seemed like the wacky version of Archie. Happy Birthday Edo!

Anonymous said...

Many happy returns, Edo! As for Annuals, sometimes they're good, sometimes not; it seems like a lot of them were leftover stories or "special" stuff that had little (or nothing) to do with ongoing continuity. On the other hand, some were part of mega-crossovers, which can be good if done right, but rarely are. I have that DD Annual (which is part of Atlantis Attacks) and it's actually not bad...Spidey and Doc Strange guest star, and it ties into ongoing plotlines as well as the crossover. I think Gerry Conway wrote it (and the Spectacular Spidey Annual that immediately preceded it).

For my picks: New Teen Titans (Wolfman and Perez tended to tie their annuals into the regular storylines...and they were great storylines!) and All-Star Squadron (which I think ties together a bunch of heroes--Guardian, Wildcat, Atom, etc.--by saying they were all trained to fight by the same guy).

Mike Wilson

Martinex1 said...

Thanks all for commenting. Hope this brought back some good memories. And Happy Birthday Edo.

For me I would probably get two DC issues as I don't have many. I would get Sgt Rock; that is a nice cover perspective. And I would get Firestorm. In general, when I think of Annuals I think Marvel so I am curious about the DC content and quality.

Two notes on the cover art - I find that Batman cover to be odd and disturbing. I am curious what that story is about. The cover has a sketchy unfinished feel to it. That cover did not attract me to buy it but I do remember it.

Regarding the FF cover - I like the image but strangely to my eye the Thing really gets lost and blends in with space. It took me a couple of viewings to notice him. I focused on Reed and Johnny and somehow even though he is large the Thing fell into the background and disappeared. Did anyone else view it that way?

William said...

First off, Happy Birthday Edo! Hope it's a great one.

Martinex, what is it about Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11?? That is one of the books I most remember reading as well. Like you said, it had some pretty pedestrian villains, but for some reason that dang story has stuck with me over the years. I read it until the cover came off too. I actually purchased a new copy a few years ago.

Also, Avengers Annual #9 is another favorite of mine. (Great minds and all that). I read the heck out of that one too. Don't have a hardcopy anymore though. I do have it digitally however.

So I guess my picks would be those two. Even though there was a lot of gold to choose from in that list.

Anyway, awesome topic dude! We could definitely have another thread where we just discuss annuals in general all day long. For example, you also mentioned (but did not picture) Avengers Annual #7 which along with Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 is one of my all-time favorite stories ever. I got MTIO Ann #2 first and probably read it 20 times (again literally until the cover came off). That is another one that I bought again. Boy I miss the days when comics were all about having fun instead of whatever they're about today.

Unknown said...

Comic Annuals---excellent topic!

Of the issues depicted above, if I had to select just two, they would be Captain America Annual #4 and Eternals Annual #1. I'm just overly partial to Jack Kirby's work.

Other Annuals that I hold in high regard:


--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, featuring the Sinister Six (Dr. Ock, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, Vulture, & Mysterio.
--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5, featuring some background info on Peter Parker's parents in a conspiracy tale.
--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #12, reprinting the classic Spidey vs. Hulk clash that took place in Quebec, Canada.
--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14, guest-starring Dr. Strange in an intriguing story, and artwork by Frank Miller.
--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15, guest-starring the Punisher and Dr. Octopus. Great story and action sequences.
--Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. This is the wedding special. Peter Parker and Mary Jane get married!
--Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2. The classic Jim Starlin story. Marvel heroes vs. the mad Titan Thanos! Terrific cosmic tale.


--Superman Annual #11. Classic tale by Alan Moore featuring Mongul, who has a special gift for Superman on his birthday.
--Batman Annual #8, featuring Ra's al Ghul as a cultist. Great art by Trevor von Eeden and spectacular colors by Lynn Varley.
--Batman Annual #14, featuring a definitive Two-Face story that adds to his origin.

Marinex1 said...

William and Edo - glad to hear I'm not off my rocker in suggesting Spider-Man #11 and Avengers #9. Happy to hear others liked those as well.

Thomas F., Spider-Man Annual 14 was indeed very good. An exciting and different type of story for Spidey, with him being a bit out of his element with the mystic aspects.

I also liked X-Men #4 with the team being pulled into Dante's Inferno. And I have a soft spot for Two In One #4 with the Thing and Black Bolt fighting Graviton; I like the Jim Craig art in that one.

Anonymous said...

What i remember about the annuals was that people who didnt buy a book monthly would buy the annual. So it became a scramble to track the annuals down. The worst was buying the current issue and not realizing the story was continued in the annual (on sale now!) My pick would be the defenders #1. It was the high point of the series. Classic Gerber story when the Defenders were one of Marvels best. My second pick is the Avengers, which was a staple for me in the 70s with an honorable mention to All Star Squadron. The Avengers and All Star Squadron annuals are in my basement,actually read a friends Defenders back in the day as we didnt have $$$ to buy all the issues we wanted.

Humanbelly said...

Happy Birthday Edo, you well-preserved old fan, you!

Gosh, I have about 10 of the issues pictured (all Marvel)-- but I haven't retained many distinct memories from them. Kinda comic book cotton candy, y'know? I remember thinking the Defenders annual was GREAT, and the Hulk annual there was solidly disappointing (Herb in a rush; very dull plotline that relied too heavily on a tenuous connection to Warlock). So. . . I'm gonna turn to under-served DC and go with All-Star Squad & Justice League, yup!


Karen said...

Edo, I hope you had a great birthday.

Annuals -they really do say 'summer,' don't they? Of the ones pictured, I had the Avengers, Defenders, and Thor ones, and I have access to the Spider-man, Captain America, FF, Iron Man and Hulk ones via my DVD collections (invaluable), although I haven't read them. So I'll use my buck to get the Teen Titans and Superman ones -the covers sell them to me.

All-time favorite annuals would have to include Avengers Annual 7 and Marvel Two In One 2, Fantastic Four annuals 6 and 11, Amazing Spider-Man 15, Thor Annual 5, Marvel Two In One annual 1.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Edo! Sorry I'm a day a late, I tried to post yesterday but my computer had other ideas .... :(

Well, anyway, I have two of those annuals shown here - the Avengers one with the Arsenal robot and the Hulk annual #6 with ol' Jade Jaws teaming up with Doc Strange. The Avengers annual was OK, but I kept on thinking (as Iron Man mentions in the story) why a simple robot could give Earth's mightiest heroes such a hard time. Still, it did have a poignant subplot tying in Tony Stark's deceased mother with the robot.

Hulk Annual #6 was one of those 'mismatched buddies' teamups with Hulk and Doc Strange;I've always liked their pairing for some reason and this annual was notable for the introduction of a being who would later become a counterpart for Adam Warlock (Her).

However, one of my favourite annuals is Hulk #7 where our Gamma irradiated hero teams up with Angel and Iceman to take on the Master Mold. The revelation of Stephen Lang downloading his consciousness into the ultimate Sentinel body was a real eye opener.

-Mike 'gonna take my annual bath now' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Dougie said...

The first Legion annual with the new Invisible Kid. That Titans annual with Vigilante. I could actually go to a comics shop (!) in Glasgow and buy them on a spinner rack. They're the ones that stay with me. Also the Nightcrawler's Inferno X-Men annual a little earlier because it was one of my first mail order comics.

Pre-1981, you just didn't get Marvel annuals in the UK- well.certainly not in the Glasgow area. I did get a few King-Size Specials circa 69-70 but they were reprints and as a little boy, I didn't value them as highly as the "new" stuff.

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