Animal Man Annual #1
Both Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder started their headlining New 52 runs with epic crossover events right off the bat and both were given the opportunity of van guarding the first set of annuals with these series, but the pair diverge dramatically in the way that they spend these extra pages. Snyder chose to spend his annual introducing supplementary material for the series, giving a proper introduction to a villain who may otherwise have played as shallow within the series; his annual then is a special feature, a deleted scene. Lemire on the other hand uses his to tell a twisted sort of re-cap, re-telling ‘The Story So Far…’ but having it hidden covertly in the context of a different time and place( police men become Mounties, etc.) explaining to us again the intricacies of his inventive mythos.
Even though this book is in Animal Man continuity it lacks the main characters altogether; the framing device used to introduce and end the annual is that of the Avatar’s of the Red – Animal Man’s daughter and her cat – but cut these two scenes and the story could just as easily have passed for that of a Swamp Thing book, so tightly are the two entwined.
Though that said, unlike Snyder’s ( which has a different kind of appeal than the monthly) this annual offers all of the joys of the average issue of Animal Man, everything that you like about the epic tale that they are telling is Here: the human drama, the three color conflict, the disturbingly inventive art and the utter desperation of the drama. Hell, it even marks Lemire’s return to plaid shirt wearing protagonists.
I wonder though if this familiarity is actually something of a flaw, if Jeff couldn’t or shouldn’t have instead taken this opportunity to say something that he couldn’t in the regular comics, one with a different binary: say, a story of the Red and the Rot fighting a selfish Swamp Thing, or maybe a tale of an avatar of the Red that went rogue and the strange unity formed to take it down and restore balance. As powerful and compelling as this look into the past, present and possible future of the Rotworld crossover is the issue is ultimately pointless, more of a point one than an annual.
So I guess it depends on what you want from the book; I bought it, read it and definitely don’t regret it but if you don’t do the same don’t stress, you didn’t miss much. If there was no such thing as a trade I may well recommend this as a jump on but those actual issues are so incredible that I can’t in good conscience say you can skip them though you can this.