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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – August 18: Farewell to the Great Machine

Savage Critic and “Reading Comics” author Douglas Wolk runs down the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out this week.

KEY
@ Omission
* Commission
& Mortal
¥ Original

@ & AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #640
Part 3 of 4 of Joe Quesada and Paolo Rivera’s “One Moment in Time,” despite what all the solicitations say; as bitter continuity pills go, this actually isn’t going down too painfully. Preview. If you can’t get enough of Spider-Man and redheads, this week also features “Web of Spider-Man” #11, in which Mary Jane and Jackpot both appear. Preview.
& ¥ BULLETPROOF COFFIN #3
David Hine and Shaky Kane’s metacomics miniseries about freaky old comics and the anti-freakiness forces of modernity continues.

* DC UNIVERSE LEGACIES #4
At Comic-Con, Len Wein told me he thought the second feature in this issue (in which DC’s World War II characters remember Sgt. Frank Rock, who as I recall Robert Kanigher always maintained was killed by the final bullet fired in the war) was the best story he’d ever written. Also credited on this issue: José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dave Gibbons and Joe Kubert. You can’t accuse it of being the work of talentless tyros, anyway.

& ¥ EX MACHINA #50
The oversized final issue of Bryan K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’s superheroics-as-politics series, in which we apparently find out what the awful thing mentioned at the beginning of the first issue was. This series never made the kind of dead-on conceptual connection that “Runaways” or “Y: The Last Man” did, but I liked the fact that Vaughan actually made it stick to the formal conventions of superhero stories–as someone recently pointed out, even though it rarely seemed like the kind of series that has supervillains in it, there is in fact one in every plot arc.

* ¥ HARLAN ELLISON’S PHOENIX WITHOUT ASHES #1
Let me see if I have this straight: back in 1973, Ellison developed a TV show called “The Starlost,” and his original title for the pilot episode was “Phoenix Without Ashes.” He was unhappy with how the show turned out, and chose to be credited as “Cordwainer Bird.” In 1975, Edward Bryant wrote a novelization of Ellison’s original script, as “Phoenix Without Ashes.” Now there’s this 4-issue miniseries, credited to Ellison and artist Alan Robinson. Also available for a lot of money: an “incentive prose chapbook.” Hurm.

* LITTLE LULU’S PAL TUBBY VOL. 1: THE CASTAWAY AND OTHER STORIES
Fans of vintage comics now have it so good that there are not just reprints of John Stanley’s “Tubby” stories but COMPETING reprints of John Stanley’s “Tubby” stories. This is the Dark Horse incarnation.

* NEW AVENGERS #3
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. I’m pretty much loving that “oral history of the Avengers” backup feature. Preview.

& ¥ SAMMY THE MOUSE #3
The long-awaited new issue of Zak Sally’s bleak, meticulous series, which I think is the only Ignatz title about an actual cartoon mouse. Preview.

& ¥ SET TO SEA
I think the entirety of Drew Weing’s wonderfully drawn comic about a frustrated would-be poet who basically becomes Popeye against his will is still online, but this little hardcover edition (one panel per page) is awfully handsome. Preview.

* S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 DIRECTOR’S CUT
This is, what, the fifth printing of Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s first issue of their science-and-Marvel-history comic? Sixth, if you count the black-and-white variant the first time around? Good! It’s a really gorgeous piece of work, and getting more people on board for this series is a fine idea.

& ¥ SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE DOOM PATROL VOL. 2
The dark, bitter end of Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s original 1963-1968 incarnation of this series. I’m pretty sure there’d never been an earlier superhero series that ended with the entire cast getting blown up.

* THE SPIRIT #5
The backup feature this time is by the surprising team of David Lapham and Michael Wm. Kaluta, both of whose work bears a significant Eisner influence, although they’ve taken it in very different directions.

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