There are few certainties in life. We live, we die, and new comics are always released on Wednesdays. Unless there is a holiday, then we all get screwed and have to wait an extra day. Regardless, the business of comics makes a large chunk of its money from the floppies, and those of us that are there week after week to buy issues as they come out. Unfortunately, there are many cases where a book’s shipping schedule is so erratic that it’s difficult to know when a new issue is coming out, thus encouraging the new fan addage "wait for the trade".
However, those of us that have stayed true to the periodical format have weathered some trult tremultuous delays in order to keep reading the books we enjoy by the creators we adore. Or, in some cases, have weathered the delays only to decide that the book is pure shlock and should never be seen again. This week, CraveOnline takes a look at the most begrudingly delayed comic books of the past decade.
Crave Online’s Top 10 Most Delayed Modern Comics
Crave Online’s Top 10 Most Delayed Modern Comics
10. Ex Machina (DC/Wildstorm)
First Issue: August 2004
Most Recent Issue: #43, August 2009
Longest Time Between Issues: Four months – Issue #40 (February 2009) – #41 (June 2009)
Ex Machina is, without a doubt, one of the best books of the last decade. Unfortunately, it narrowly squeezes in the top 10. Though it has not been a chronic offender of massive delays, sometimes a great book that misses a month or two here and there is much worse. At best, Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ superhero political epic has had an erratic shipping schedule. Thankfully, this is one of the few books on this list that we can safely say was worth the wait every time. Plus – if you do the math – had this book shipped on its normal monthly schedule since it started, it would have finished by now, and we would be down one book to look forward to.
9. Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)
First Issue: July 2004
Most Recent Issue: #30, August 2009
Longest Time Between Issues: Seven months – Issue #12 (August 2005) – #13 (April 2006)
I have said it a thousand times, but one more won’t hurt. Astonishing X-Men is the best X-tale in existence, barnone. The only downside to Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s 25 issues, is that they were spread out over nearly five years. Of course, it was off to a good start, until slowly but surely, issues started slipping from one month to the next, and finally Marvel simply declared that the title would start shipping bi-monthly, in an effort to cover things up. Ironically, even this didn’t do much, as the title still saw constant delays.
This is a prime example of why "waiting for the trade" has become such a mantra.
8. Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas (Marvel)
First Issue: July 2008
Most Recent Issue: #2, September 2008
Longest Time Between Issues: Nine months and counting – #2 (September 2008) – #3 (still unreleased)
Most likely to capitalize on the impending success of the Iron Man film, director Jon Favreau was given a Marvel Knights mini-series, featuring Iron Man. Well, the first issue released shortly after the film, with the second following slightly delayed a couple of months later. And well, it’s been nine months, and no word on the next issue. At this point, I would consider the project dead in the water, and wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel had abandoned it completely. The issues that did release received poor reviews, and I’m not sure that there is any reader out there just dying to see the story continue. Sorry Jon.
7. Star Wars: Dark Times (Dark Horse)
First Issue: October 2006
Most Recent Issue: #13, April 2009
Longest Time Between Issues: Nine months – #12 (June 2008) – #13 (April 2009)
Dark Times was going to be the Star Wars comic book that I could get behind; the one I could buy issue after issue and read feverishly, never getting bored. Now, I wish Dark Horse had given me the chance to get bored. Debuting in October 2006, the second issue didn’t hit shelves until months later, and the publishing schedule continues in such a fashion. Instead of being put at the top of my weekly stack, Dark Times was relegated to the bottom, as I had to re-read the issue previous just to recall what was going on. And then, after a not-so-good stint of participating in the wholly unnecessary "Vector" line-wide crossover, Dark Times was put on a nine month hiatus to make room for the Clone Wars animated comic.
Though the hiatus has since ended, it has already been a couple of months since Dark Times last came out. Here’s hoping the delays plague doesn’t continue on this book for long.
6. All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder (DC)
First Issue: September 2005
Most Recent Issue: #10, August 2008
Longest Time Between Issues: Ten months and counting – #10 (August 2008) – #11 (still unreleased)
The launch of DC’s All-Star line was met with much hype, but unfortunately both titles were rife with delays. Though Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman wasn’t too bad in its release schedule, its counterpart, Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, has been officially decalred "on hiatus" by DC. Moronically met with fanboy outcry, Miller’s take on the first meeting of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson is far from the standard fare, and perhaps the delays between issues contributed to the misunderstanding of the series’ direction. The satire is not immediately apparent, and especially coming from Frank Miller – godfather of modern Batman tales – it was a drastic change of pace.
A new issue has not been seen in nearly a year, though my own personal demand for the final two issues is high. DC has also put the backburner on future All-Star series featuring Wonder Woman and Batgirl, and after the problems with Batman it’s not hard to see why. Giving high profile writers and artists what is essentially a vanity project is not always easy on the publisher’s calendar, as we’ll often see throughout the remainder of this list.
5. The Ultimates (Marvel)
First Issue: March 2002
Most Recent Issue: #13, April 2004 (final issue)
Longest Time Between Issues: It’s a tie! The wait between #8 (November 2002) and #9 (April 2003), as well as #12 (November 2003) to #13 (April 2004) were both equally long at four months each.
Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s infamously delayed The Ultimates, as well as The Ultimates 2, was a fresh and exciting take on the Avengers team, and made them politically and socially relevant for the post 9/11 world. Unfortunately, both series were plagued with heavy delays, issues coming out sporadically at best. The original thirteen issue run takes the cake on delays, though, due to two separate accounts of having to wait at least four months between issues.
4. Planetary (DC/Wildstorm)
First Issue: April 1999
Most Recent Issue: #26, December 2006
Longest Time Between Issues: Two years and six months – Issue #26 (December 2006) – #27 (still unreleased)
Planetary, by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (his second appearance on this list!) as a whole, is unique. In premise, obviously; but for our purposes, even more original in its publishing schedule. The series officially launched OVER TEN YEARS AGO, in 1999. At the time, it was billed as a twenty four issue series that was to ship bi-monthly. Obviously, it didn’t really turn out that way. After numerous shipping issues, the series finally went on official hiatus in 2001, not releasing a new issue for two years.
When it restarted in 2003, it was decided that Planetary would extend to be twenty seven issues, and we’re still waiting. Teased to be completed in 2008, it was not to be. However, according to Ellis, Cassaday has finished the last issue as of April 2009 and it should be hitting shelves soon. Maybe.
3. Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk (Marvel)
First Issue: February 2006
Most Recent Issue: #6, July 2009 (final issue)
Longest Time Between Issues: Three years and one month – #2 (April 2006) – #3 (May 2009)
Man, oh man. I remember going to the comic shop when issue #2 came out back in 2006, and a friend tried to convince me to pick it up. Citing lack of interest in both the Ultimate Universe and Wolverine has a whole, I neglected. It’s a good thing too, otherwise I would’ve had to wait over three years to pick up the next installment. Getting a hot writer like Damon Lindelof (creator of Lost) to write a comic about two of its most popular characters sounds like a great idea from Marvel. However, it’s rather ironic that the top three entries on this list are all victims of delays by Hollywood writers, likely taking on an "easy comic book gig" to add something else to their resume, only to find out that it’s not exactly like dusting crops.
Regardless, issue #3 just recently released to little fanfare or excitement, but it fascinates me to see that Marvel didn’t just give up on this book. Marvel dominates a majority of this list; but if nothing else, they are commited to finishing what they started. Most of the time.
2. Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do (Marvel)
First Issue: August 2002
Most Recent Issue: #6, March 2006 (final issue)
Longest Time Between Issues: Three years and three months – #3 (October 2002) – #4 (February 2006)
And here marks another Hollywood writer mucking up the publisher’s plans to use their name as a massive selling point for a new book with a redhot character. At the time of Spider-Man/Black Cat‘s debut issue, the first Spider-Man film had just set the box office ablaze, and Marvel recruited fan favorite Kevin Smith to pen a new Spidey mini. To be fair, Smith had comic work under his belt previous to this, all that arrived on schedule, and has done plenty since. But for this mini-series, time was simply not on his side.
After the third issue, there was a three year, three month wait. Smith has admitted to his shortcomings, offering no excuse for the delay, but suggesting that the complete story turned out better with the delay than it would have had it pumped it out on time. And after all, at least it got finished. Which leads us to number one…
1. Daredevil: The Target (Marvel)
First Issue: January 2003
Most Recent Issue: #1, January 2003
Longest Time Between Issues: …still waiting…
That’s right. Nearly six years since this series first began, and not a peep on when it will ever finish. I think that at this point, it’s safe to say never, but with Marvel’s track record, you never know. Again the handywork of Kevin Smith (who has since declared this project his most disappointing in comics), the mini-series was setto coincide with the better off forgotten Daredevil film. Though there was some buzz arounf 2005 or 2006 about the series finally returning, that was pretty much the most fans ever got.
The most important thing to consider in a book that sees a massive delay like this is, are you going to support it? Clearly, Marvel (and DC too, for that matter) has enough vested interest in projects that see delays, sometimes years between issues, that they don’t cut their losses and stop future issues. After all, they can always release the completed work as a hardcover or trade paperback, and sell them to new readers who probably have no idea about the book’s troubled history.
The point is, should Daredevil: The Target #2 ever see the light of day and appear on your local comic shop’s shelves one day, please: don’t buy it.