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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – June 16: Triple Doses of Spider-Man, Eric Shanower and J.H. Williams III

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

KEY
* Animals
^ Vegetables
% Minerals
¢ Kings of England
¥ Fights historical

% ¥ AGE OF BRONZE #30
Eric Shanower’s phenomenal Trojan War epic rolls on like a catalogue of ships. There are days when I think this might be my favorite serial comic. Preview. If that’s not enough Shanower for one week, Marvel’s “The Marvelous Land of Oz” #7 (which he writes) is coming out too, and so is the second volume of “Little Adventures in Oz,” reprinting three standalone Oz graphic novels that Shanower drew a few decades ago.
* AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #633 and #634
Yes, that’s right: two issues of the thrice-monthly “Amazing” are appearing the same day. I’d grouse, but honestly I’m pretty excited about both of these. #633 is the end of Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo’s “Shed,” of which David Uzumeri recently wrote an appreciation here; here’s a preview. Then Joe Kelly and Michael Lark’s long-teased “Grim Hunt” begins in #634, with a backup story by J.M. DeMatteis and Max Fiumara, as well as the first installment of Stan Lee and the mighty Marcos Martin’s two-page “Spidey Sunday strip.” Preview. On top of that, there’s the first issue of the “Spider-Man Presents Black Cat” miniseries (preview), and #9 of the now-cancelled “Web of Spider-Man,” featuring J. Jonah Jameson and whatever’s left of Jackpot after her gory recent miniseries (preview).

^ ¥ ARTICHOKE TALES
I absolutely loved this Megan Kelso graphic novel–a kind of anthropological/fictional-historical fantasy/love story thing involving a fractured culture of people with artichoke leaves for hair–and I’m not afraid to say so. Different versions of a few chapters of it appeared in various anthologies close to a decade ago (there was a considerably more explicit version of one of its final sequences in Fantagraphics’ “Dirty Stories,” in fact), but I didn’t really grasp the scope of Kelso’s achievement until I got to read the whole thing. There are links to two different previews here.

* ¢ ¥ BATMAN: R.I.P.
The paperback edition: eight particularly good issues of “Batman,” for fifteen bucks. I recall that this baffled a lot of people at the time, not least because it’s a story in which Grant Morrison makes it clear that Batman does not even appear to die at any point, but I went back and re-read the whole thing last week, and it holds up amazingly well, despite some hiccups with Tony Daniel’s art. (And the last page of “R.I.P.” proper is one of Morrison’s great end-of-story whammies.) In additional Morrison-reprint news, this week sees a forty-dollar hardcover edition of “Seven Soldiers, Volume 1,” reprinting the first half of his phenomenal mid-’00s project, and a one-dollar reprint of “New X-Men” #114, the first issue of his and Frank Quitely’s late-’90s run.

* ^ ¢ BILLY HAZELNUTS AND THE CRAZY BIRD
“Maakies” cartoonist Tony Millionaire’s “all-ages” sequel to “Billy Hazelnuts,” and by “all-ages” he apparently means that it’s the kind of grotesque slapstick farce that could potentially entertain small children while creeping the living heck out of their parents (let’s just say the main running gag in this story involves the protagonist being eaten alive). Preview.

¥ DC UNIVERSE LEGACIES #2
Len Wein’s history of superheroics in the DCU continues with art by Andy and Joe Kubert, all-purpose utility infielder Scott Kolins, and the mighty J.H. Williams III–I hope Williams gets to draw the sequence involving the Seven Soldiers of Victory, who Wein memorably revived in the early ’70s and Williams even more memorably revived a few years ago (see below). Speaking of Williams, this week also sees a $1 reprint of “Detective Comics” #854, the first episode of his and Greg Rucka’s kick-ass “Batwoman” serial.

% ¢ HELLBLAZER #268
It’s been a while since Vertigo’s done an internal crossover (other than the Fables mini-line), but apparently this issue involves Shade the Changing Man. Written by Peter Milligan (who wrote Vertigo’s “Shade” series); drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli.

¥ HERALDS #3
Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic’s thoroughly nifty weekly miniseries about various superheroines–part character comedy, part high-Marvel Cosmic–continues. Preview.

% ¢ THE JOKER’S ASYLUM: MAD HATTER
The great Bill Sienkiewicz apparently drew this entire issue–the first time he’s done the interior artwork for a full comic since, I believe, 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow in 2007, and I think it’d been a long time for that. Also out this week: another “Joker’s Asylum” one-shot, “Harley Quinn,” drawn by Joe Quinones, whose work is worth keeping an eye on too (he drew that Green Lantern serial in “Wednesday Comics”).

% NEW AVENGERS #1
I don’t understand why Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen don’t simply call this series “New New Avengers,” along the lines of “New New Minglewood Blues.” Preview.

^ ¥ TEMPERANCE
Russ Manning Award winner Cathy Malkasian’s new graphic novel is a sprawling, splendidly grotesque-looking fable about the kinds of lies that preserve patriarchy and perpetuate war, set in and around a city called Blessedbowl whose inhabitants believe that they’re afloat on a sea of fire and at war with evil forces from outside, neither of which are true. It’s worth a look for sure. Preview.

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