Unfortunately the annuals I've read aren't very good for the series. The Joker, so well-written in the series, is given emotion and reason in his little one-off. It's a big turnoff if you know...well ANYTHING about the character. So just stick with the standard continuity and you should find yourself pretty blown away by the series.
I started rewatching my favorite episodes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer so that drew me to the season 8 comic, which I'm about halfway through. It goes a little too far at times. And sometimes it's just the writer being a sexually frustrated male (Really, did you have to add the Buffy goes Lesbian for a couple issues plotline?) Otherwise the story is strong enough, just very comic booky. I've heard that season 9 takes that away and goes back to the series roots, so I really look forward to it. It's just hard, being a diehard fan of the show, to see them in castles in Scotland and flying around the globe. It's just not Buffy. But viewing it as solely a comic book universe, it's rather satisfying.
What really helps me is that I know which characters are being played by what actors so hearing their voice while reading really helps me to see how the movie will be and I can't say I'm disappointed with the casting decisions. They all seem to be right on the money and, as has been confirmed with the past Marvel movies, casting is close to everything. I'm only a few issues into the 2008 series and after that I'll move onto the reboot, both of which I've heard good things about.
Did you know that Doc Ock is Spider-man? No, I'm serious, Doc Ock is fucking Spiderman in The Superior Spider-man. I'll admit, my reaction was mostly likely similar to yours. "What the hell is going on?" But actually, it really adds a much needed dynamic to the character of both Peter Parker and Spider-man. Suddenly Spider-man is doing things he never would have before. He's efficient and won't waste his time on petty crimes, characteristics not usually present in a superhero. I particularly loved his interactions with Mary Jane. I mean, just think, you're an old man suddenly in a young body with a hot red-head all over you. To say it leads to some funny moments are an understatement. You just have to see.
Before I end, what is the deal with most artwork nowadays? Everything looks so much different from comics of the 90's and prior. Advancements in technology has allowed for much more detail and shading techniques but unfortunately it makes all comics look the same. New 52 Batman looks the same as Superior Spider-man because of this and it takes a little of the uniqueness out of it. The more independent comics are still drawn old school but, unfortunately, it's only a matter of time before all current comics have this polished over look. Damn.
Anyway, it's just been genuinely nice to get back into comics again. I feel like I'm getting back in touch with a part I lost. I look forward to continuing on with these various series.