Disclaimer: This isn’t an annual. It’s a published love letter to the Bat-Verse.
Annuals have long held the stigma of being that end-of-the-year offering that doesn’t really connect with what happened before, they are rarely critical to the main storyline and usually fans are left staring at the wall of comics at their local shop thinking “Man, do I really want to buy this?”
This is how Annuals should be done! Take a handful of successful writers and artist and them let them tell their own stories, with their own unique approach and have it all tie together with one simple theme; Christmas. That’s it. This equals magic. How else would you describe an issue that opens with a story about Ace the Bat-Dog and have it play out in a way that hits you in the gut? The Batman Annual actually pulled off an Ace story that made me tear up! And that’s just the first story!
We get to see Batman ride through the snowy streets of Gotham with Harley Quinn in the passenger seat. In a story where Batman sings a Christmas carol. (Yes, it sounds like blasphemy, but Paul Dini pulls it off with his usual expert level of craftsmanship) There is Batman enjoying a break in the Chaos of Gotham. There is the emergence of a new villain that might have a huge impact in the upcoming year. Then there is a jail break at Arkham to top it all off.
There is so much goodness packed into this title that you wish this was every bat-book, every month. The stories are all self-contained, complete works, that stand alone; yet when woven together they give the reader a sense of perspective of not only of Batman, but the city of Gotham during the yuletide, leaving the reader feeling that there is even hope in the darkest and most dangerous of cities.
Final Thoughts: This title comes with my full seal of approval. A must read for Bat-fans young and old.
Final Grade: 5 Stars
Batman Annual #1
Story: Scott Bryan Wilson, Steve Orlando, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King
Art: Bilquis Evely, David Finch, Declan Shalvey, Neal Adams, Riley Rossmo, David Finch