These days, comics are late all the time. But some late-shipping titles stand out, due to their extreme lateness, frequncy of lateness, or their impact. For those titles, we are creating the Late Shipping Hall of Shame!
Here are our nominees:
Camelot 3000 - The granddaddy of them all. Back in the days of newsstand distribution, comics just weren't late. If a story wasn't ready to go in time, the editor would pull an inventory story from the drawer and run it instead. Because the newsstand distribution wasn't going to wait for the next issue of X-Men or Batman. But Camelot 3000 was one of DC's first direct-only titles, so the newsstand rules didn't apply. Brian Bolland is a wonderful artist, but these days editors know that to give the man a monthly book would be crazy talk. A number of delays plagued the book, with the result that the final isuse of the twelve-issue series came out more than a year later than originally planned. Not the worst delay ever, but certainly a harbinger of things to come...
Action Comics, Superman & Wonder Woman ca. late 2006/early 2007 - 2006 was to be a big year for Superman & Wonder Woman, with high-profile creative teams coming on board to give these stalwarts a needed boost. But small delays became longer delays, resulting in issues being published out-of-order and causing much embarassment for DC editorial.
All-Star Batman & Robin - Hey, let's get Frank Miller and Jim Lee to do a Batman comic together! Of course, Frank is busy becoming the latest darling of Hollywood, and Jim is also a VP in the company. Sure they'll sell a lot of Batman comics, but what made the powers-that-be think that this would come out monthly? The result was a comic that shipped just one issue during all of 2006, and saw a sixteen-month gap between issues #4 & 5.
Civil War - The delays weren't super terrible during Marvel's Civil War; but with so many other spin-off books tieing in tightly to the plot, delays of a few weeks in the core title saw a ripple effect that devestated a large chunk of Marvel's line-up. Sure Civil War sold like gangbusters, but how much money was lost because issues of Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America didn't ship?
Spider-Man "One More Day" - Remember how the big ending to JMS's Spider-Man was to come out weekly? But rewrites and other delays meant that it came out less-than-monthly, and pushed back the debut of the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man, leaving one of Marvel's best-selling books on the sidelines for several months.
The Ultimates - The first Ultimates series saw many long delays, but they were going to not have that problem with Ultimates 2, as artist Brian Hitch would work far enough ahead that it wouldn't be a problem. Right? But series 2 saw the same type of delays in the back half that plagued series 1. But all would be well with series 3, as the delays on series 2 meant that the new creative team would have plenty of lead time to get issues in the can. Oops...
Powers - It seems like not a week goes by when the Diamond Shipping Updates don't include a shift of one or two weeks on a Powers comic. And yet, they still pretend that this will be a monthly, and even recently decided to increase the page count! It's time for Marvel to get real and admit that Powers will always be a bi-monthly-at-best book.
Astonishing X-Men - Debuting in 2004, this seemed like a match in heaven, with Joss Whedon & John Cassady taking on everyone's favorite mutants. Sure, a decompressed story lasting 24-issues might seem to take a bit long, but that would also mean a new top-selling trade collection every six months for those who prefer to wait for the trade. Alas, Whedon has Hollywood fish to fry, and Cassady, while a superb artist, has never been known for his speed. As a result, this slow-moving story has dragged on and on, and any surprises from the final (double-sized--wait twice as long!) issue are pretty much moot as the rest of the X-Men line has decided to move along without it. Theoretically this means that the new creative team of Ellis & Bianchi have plenty of time to work ahead, but we saw how well that worked with Ultimates...
Planetary - A comic that gets written whenever Warren Ellis gets around to it, and then John Cassady tries to squeeze in drawing it if he's waiting for an X-Men script from Whedon. Fine, we know what we're getting into. But there's just one issue remaining in the series, which means that the final trade collection is being held up as well. One might think that the potential paycheck for finishing just one more issue would spur the creators to finish the darn thing.
American Flagg hardcover collections - Image announced these way back in 2004, but they still haven't seen the light of day. They promise a Summer 2008 release for the first volume at the San Diego Comic Con; Howard Chaykin has reportedly said that he won't believe it until someone actually hands him one to sign.
Those are my choices for the Late Shipping Hall of Shame. Agree? Disagree? What other comics would you add?