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Seeing as I'm still relatively new at comic-collecting, Animal Man and Batman will be my first annuals. I'm quite excited about them, especially since they seem to relate to the bigger ongoing stories in each.
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Like everyone above said, theyre bigger more expensive yearly issues. Sometimes they are worth it, some times they are not.
For many years Marvel shipped and extra issue a year instead of an annual because people stopped buying annuals in great number. Annuals use the year instead of continuing the regular issue numbers, so you can skip an annual without missing a number in your collection. 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. Sadly the skipping of annuals and just releasing more individual issues in a year has lead to double shipping, more than one issue coming out in a month. Like Amazing Spiderman and deadpool for instance.
I always pick up annuals for my favorite comics. If im just getting into a title or if the art looks crappy i usually skip em.
There are other annuals that do take place in the character's canon, but nothing that happens there is likely to ever be referenced again. This is probaby the majority.
Then there are those few times when annuals are actually presented as Elseworlds and literally involve non-canon versions of the characters.
On the other hand, I would think Annuals would be great for getting people interested, because so many of them are done-in-one stories.