(TOP) Batman Inc #3
(Original Date: Jan '11, Current Date: 3/9/11)
(BOTTOM)"The Dark Knight #2"
(Original Date: December '10, Current Date: 3/23/11)
Those two books right there are just a couple examples of what I feel has become an inexcusable (yet unfortunately incurable) epidemic in comic books today, something I don't recall experiencing...certainly not to this degree...in my early years of collecting.
Those 2 titles were marketed as the foundations of the new "Batman Inc." initiative, spearheaded by Grant Morrison, that would effect every book within the Bat-Family. Bruce Wayne would star in the above two books, Dick Grayson would be featured in Tony Daniel's "Batman", Scott Snyder's "Detective Comics", as well as Peter Tomasi's "Batman & Robin", while the other books would showcase how the incorporation of Batman would impact the lives of Red Robin, Batgirl, Oracle, so on and so forth. DC heavily pushed the debuts of Scott Snyder of "American Vampire" fame on 'Tec, Tomasi returning to the Bat-family as a writer (as opposed to his editorial stint), as well as David Finch's writer/artist work on DK and the February launch of Batwoman finally in her own book.
With all of the in-house advertisement pushing the "Batman Inc." for a November launch (with Batwoman getting a #0 issue), it seemed like it was going to be huge month for the Bat-family of books. Well everything went great with "Batman", "Detective Comics", "Batman Inc.", and "Batwoman #0" and that's basically where it all ended for the major pushes.
Shortly before shipping it was announced that Peter Tomasi was behind (the blame falling on "Brightest Day")and would now start his B&R run 4 months later than intended (see the recently released "Batman & Robin #20). David Finch's "The Dark Knight #1" kept getting bumped farther and farther back in November's schedule until it eventually became part of December's solicits, and even then was not shipped until the very last week of 2010. Two of the major selling points of the "Batman Inc" intitative were already way behind from jump street. And unfortunately this ship has not been righted since...
Grant Morrison's "Batman Inc", the core of the whole idea, had two timely months and is now 2 months behind schedule with NO books shipping in January or February. In fact, DC's official homepage has 2 issues slated for March but I highly doubt that will be the case. As a matter of fact what prompted this entire blog was seeing "Batman Inc. #7" in the May DC solicits and realizing..."Shit they haven't even put out issue 3 yet and they expect to get 4, 5, and 6 out between March & April! Hilarious." I mean, it's not like Grant has ever been known for his timely nature when it comes too books. Hell, "Joe the Barbarian" has been totally removed from any upcoming Vertigo solicits. I'm expecting to read the last part of that story when it's included in the HC and never see an actual issue. "Final Crisis", "Batman & Robin", "Return of Bruce Wayne", "The Invisibles", all of those books suffered delays of varying lengths. The first part of "The Road Home" came out before the last part of "Return of Bruce Wayne", and the delay on his "Superman 3D" Final Crisis story also had post-3D books on the shelf before the second issue. The comic book world as a whole is still waiting for news on "Multiversity" or for the 2nd issue of the Morrison/Jim Lee "WildCats" story arc.
Yet I don't recall "Batman" really suffering during Grant's monthly run, nor do I remember "New X-Men" falling victim to the dreaded deadline doom either. It had its problems with artists getting the work done obviously, but it was still timely. So why the delays on those books? Does he have too much on his plate? Does DC not give a damn (which seems to be the case since the company never bothers to address these delays) as long as the books sell? I say this as a huge fan of Grant's writing. It's frustrating as hell to really get into a story when you get it so sporadically. Then again, a friend of mine pointed out that it doesn't really matter because Grant's stories only make sense when you read them collected in a trade anyway.
Finch's "The Dark Knight" started a month late and hasn't come anywhere near recovering. I mean when the second issue is slated for March 23 as it is, I can easily see that book not hitting shelves until the first week of April. Which, of course, leaves me with a lot of doubt that he will hit the April & May dates for ishs 3 & 4 either. To me, Finch was always a cover artist or a one-shot guy. I don't know if he's ever tackled a monthly book before, especially all on his own, so I don't know if lateness is in his blood, but this book has not been a great indication of his reliability.
"Batwoman", less than a month away from its scheduled February start, also got bumped to an April start with JH Williams actually laying the blame on DC comics by saying "February had been decided on the launch date by the company with reservations about that from me. I felt that was a bit too soon in a realistic look at work progression." He also went on to say things about making appearances costing him about 3 months of work time. Obviously I don't know the whole story, the inner workings and what not, but what I do know is that, aside from the Batwoman #0 issue, Williams hadn't done a book since 'Tec #860 (at #875 in March) and the "Batwoman" on-going got announced in April '10. Make of it what you will, but as a fan I just see excuses.
Tomasi's "Batman & Robin" run, which had been as strongly marketed as "The Dark Knight" and "Batman Inc.", finally began on Feb. 9th with ish #20 to mixed reviews (and one stellar opening sequence). The only things is fans were led to believe he was coming on the book full-time but the May solicits come out the following week only to reveal that Judd Winick is coming on to write a Jason Todd arc with ish #23. I'm not complaining, I love JT & JW both, but it was certainly a shock to see Tomasi come on for only 3 issues after all this hype. I suppose "War of the Green Lanterns" takes precedent???
It's not as if comic book delays are exclusive to the world of Batman, I just think they haven't done any favors to the whole concept of "Batman Inc". The stories being told in all of the books thus far could have been told without ever going public because the crux of the international movement has all been slated to take place in the Morrison book. We have the annuals that introduced Night Runner, and the two issues of Inc. that have come so far, and nothing else is set up to push the expansion idea....which was the whole basis for going public in the first place.
I firmly believe the story will play out wonderfully when all is said and done, but as a reader who grew up on comics generally making their deadlines, with creators occasionally churning out two books a month during Marvel's summer months, I find it disruptive (not to mention disappointing) that creators nowadays seem to find it increasingly difficult to get things done on time.
Both "Blackest Night" and "Final Crisis" had a delay month scheduled in and yet neither book was on-time. I feel like DC telling fans that every issue of the "Flashpoint" mini is going to be 48 pages is basically akin to screaming "EXPECT DELAYS". And it isn't just DC that's guilty of this with their mega events. "Civil War", "Secret Invasion", even "Siege" (which was only four issues) all suffered from various delays that hurt the story. "SI" was too damn long as it was and shoving in delays made it feel that much more laborious. Even non-event stories like "Old Man Logan" suffered from delays after months of hype and anticipation, and those hold-ups certainly hurt the story. Most fans I discussed it with didn't really care by the time the conclusion came around because they forgot what happened in the previous issues.
When is "Kick-Ass II #2" coming out? George Perez's "Teen Titans: Games" (I'm surprised we're not still waiting for "Legion of the 3 Worlds" to finish)? Delays effect comic books across the board. I know this, and I know sometimes it is unavoidable (Perez having surgery for example). But I also know that it effects the way I, as a reader, look back on these titles. "Civil War" is a great example of a book that, when I was able to read it as a whole, I actually enjoyed. Unfortunately reading it so sporadically as it was being released really ruined my enjoyment of the story initially (I still feel too much story was told in the tie-ins instead of the main book but that's a different blog). Same goes for "Captain America: Rebirth".
Based on the track record of Geoff Johns when it comes to these things ("Infinite Crisis", "Blackest Night", and "Flash: Rebirth" for example), I am fully expecting "Flashpoint" to suffer a similar fate with unfortunate delays that hurt the impact of the story. Hopefully the reports of Andy Kubert starting the book early to get ahead are true and we don't suffer delays caused by either the written or artistic ends.
Unfortunately I don't think this is something we, as readers, will every get away from. Quite honestly, I think it's a lose-lose situation for the publisher as well. If they use a fill-in artist(s) to get the work done, we complain about how it will look in the collected trade. If a fill-in story is used to insure we get a book every month (like with "Streets of Gotham" recently) we complain about that. Nobody is going to win in this situation, especially in the case of event books, and we as consumers only speak with our almighty dollar.
For better or worse, because of who the creators are, we are willing to suck it up and continue to buy the product despite delays and hold-ups. I myself am guilty a hundred-times over and will admit it freely. It's just something you either have to accept as a comic book buyer, or something that causes you to quit. Movie releases get delayed, TV shows take numerous breaks throughout a season, and comic books consistently get pushed back. That's just the way it is...somethings will never change....
Still, I would just love to ask a duo like Chris Claremont/Mark Silvestri how they managed to pump out two quality issues a month of "Uncanny X-Men" for 3 months out of the year during the late 80's. Maybe that strategy needs to be passed on down to future generations...