Ex Machina Special #1 (Brian K. Vaughan/Chris Sprouse, DC/Wildstorm)
I don't know if it's using the same colorist or if he's trying to change his style, but Sprouse's artwork looked so much like Tony Harris's that it wasn't until halfway through this issue that I realized it wasn't by the book's regular artist. Labeling it a "special" is really just a way to do fill-in issues without breaking Harris's run on the main title, and thus this is pretty much just a new Ex Machina arc, although it's mostly flashbacks. Vaughan once again shows his flair for the creepy with this story of the Great Machine's animal-controlling nemesis. It's a good story, although I wonder about the wisdom of giving Mitchell too many super-powered enemies, since one of the appeals of this book has always been his uniqueness as a superhero in his world, and I wouldn't want to see it become just another alternate superhero universe.
Nextwave #4 (Warren Ellis/Stuart Immonen, Marvel)
This is probably the least entertaining issue yet, I think partly because of the absence of Dirk Anger and partly because this arc's villain didn't have the great combination of humor and pathos that Fin Fang Foom did. Even a slightly off issue of this book is better than most of Marvel's other output, though, and Ellis gives us a hilarious and concise origin for the Captain, along with his usual humorous one-liners. The advantage of the two-part arcs is that next issue will already bring a new villain and a new chance for amusing ridiculousness.
Notes on last week's books: I thought Desolation Jones #6 offered a very satisfying and appropriately bleak conclusion to the first arc, even if I still couldn't follow all the plot mechanics. It was disappointing, then, to read that J.H. Williams III has signed on to be the new Detective Comics artist, and to see that there are as of yet no solicitations for a seventh issue. Warren Ellis promises an explanation soon, and I hope the book doesn't just fade away. Also, the second issue of American Virgin, while still not providing a clear narrative direction, definitely kept my interest enough to stick around a little longer. It's a solid book so far, but it's yet to blow me away.