In my 14 years of reading and collecting comics, as well as work in a comic  book store, one of the most common complaints I’ve heard (and sometimes delivered myself) is lateness in comics. Whether it’s an intentional pushing back of the title, a late page, a late script or a last second disaster, comic book fans deal with lateness all of the time, yet still the clarion call is delivered “OFF WITH (Enter Creator’s Name)’S HEAD!” “THEY SHOULDN’T DO COMICS!” “THEY SHOULD WRITE/DRAW FASTER!” This debate could rage on for days, weeks even. What I’d like to do, is just draw your attention to some books that have been late, have had huge names work on them, and decide for yourself if the wait was worth it.

One of my favorite Superman stories ever, All-Star Superman, debuted in November of 2005. With writing by the fantastic Grant Morrison (Final Crisis, New X-Men) and art by the spectacular Frank Quitely (WE3, JLA: Earth 2), All-Star Superman went on until October 2008. It was twelve issues long, but also took nearly 3 years to produce. Superman, his cells supercharged to the extreme, is dying. He must perform 12 monumental tasks before his time is up, which include defeating Solaris the Evil Sun and restoring the Bottled City of Kandor. It is a must-read for fans of Superman, and even people who don’t like Superman. It’s set out of continuity and can be picked up and read with little knowledge of Superman.

One of the most successful line launches in recent history, The Ultimate Universe has done really well for the House of Ideas, but these books are not immune to delays. The Ultimates, by the in-your-face Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick Ass) and hyper-detailed Bryan Hitch (The Authority, Captain America: Reborn) suffered delays of months at a time, but the king of Ultimate delays was Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine. Written by Damon Lindelof (LOST) with art by Leineil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion, Superman: Birthright), Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine was supposed to be a showdown between, well, Ultimate Hulk and Ultimate Wolverine. The first two issues were full of non-stop action… and then it disappeared for a few years. I found myself thoroughly enjoying Ultimates, but was lukewarm towards Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine.

There are so many books that have been delayed… and still ARE delayed (All-Star Batman, Daredevil: Target… will you ever get finished?), and there are many reasons for delays: family or personal illness, other commitments, or even just plain dropping the ball. There are books I enjoyed, and books I asked myself “I waited for this?!?”. Ultimately, comics are a form of entertainment, but also an art form, and art takes time to come into place. If you love something enough, you can wait. If not, buy something else. There are so many comics coming out on a monthly basis, you can live without Ultimate X for now… right?

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