Is <i>Justice League</i> #5 the first late book of DC's New 52? [Updated]

During the promotional push for DC Comics' "New 52" relaunch, executives stressed steps were being taken to prevent late-shipping titles. We've already seen evidence of that commitment in the use of fill-in artists and some creative assists, but now it looks as if one of its titles is missing a beat -- and it's the biggest title the company has.

Justice League #5 was scheduled for release Jan. 18, according to the Previews catalog as well as the publisher's own website, but recent information from Diamond Comic Distributors suggests it won't make that date.

Issue 5 isn't among the titles the distributor has scheduled to ship Wednesday ... or the week after. Robot 6 emailed DC comment and a revised release date, but has yet to receive a response.

Although a late title clearly isn't unheard of, this one is intriguing for two reasons: first, because it's the flagship of DC's "New 52," and second, because the creators involved, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, are also company executives who, at least indirectly, oversee the line editors whose responsibility it is to make sure books ship on time. It's important to note the reason for the lateness can't be connected to Johns or Lee; the blame could fall on any step of the production chain.

While DC hasn't responded to our earlier inquiry, we did find a comment made by Co-Publisher Dan DiDio during the lead-up to New 52 regarding this this potential issue.

"[Timeliness is] more hard-line than in the past for several reasons, and one is that it's the largest concern we've heard from retailers on a continual basis," he said in an interview with Newsarama. "They've been concerned in the past about our inability to put out books on a consistent basis, especially the books that people are looking for."

DiDio stressed that DC has a "contract with the retailers" and the fans for consistent releases, and admitted that sales have suffered when the publisher released late books in the past.

He specifically guaranteed "100 percent delivery," which this delayed Justice League #5 would break from, saying, "There's nothing more frustrating for me or any of the fans, I'm sure, to be excited about something then not be really sure when it's coming out."

Update (11:17 a.m. PT): A DC spokesperson responded that Justice League #5 is now scheduled for release on Jan. 25, just one week after its original date. The Diamond's tentative shipping for Jan. 25 list doesn't yet reflect that information.

Update (3: 38 p.m. PT): A DC representative has since tweeted: "We can confirm that Justice League #5 from @jimlee and @geoffjohns is indeed hitting shelves next week."

Update (5:19 p.m. PT): DC has clarified its previous statement, tweeting: "Sorry for the confusion: Justice League 5 will hit shelves on January 25th."

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