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Ex Machina, Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days – Comic Review

Ex Machina Vol. 1

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils by Tony Harris
Inks by Tom Feister
Colors by J.D. Mettler

Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics (U.S.); Titan Books (U.K.)

My Advice: Read it monthly.

Mitchell Hundred was a civil engineer in the Big Apple, just a regular guy like anybody else. Then something bizarre happens, and next thing he knows he’s gained the ability to talk to machines. He does what anybody in such a position would do: he becomes a real-life super hero, complete with crazy outfit. He does a lot of good, yes, but he feels like he can do more. So he runs for mayor of New York City…and wins. Thus begins Mitchell’s story of his term in office, and there’s no telling what kind of ending we’re headed for…only that it’s probably not too happy.

[ad#longpost]Vaughan manages to prove with this series that Y: The Last Man (at least the first few story arcs) were not a fluke. He can take a seemingly simple idea (What if all the guys in the world dropped dead but one, what if a superhero decided to become mayor of New York) and wring it out thoroughly, taking it in directions you never considered. As a result, what could have been a pervert suit book in lesser hands becomes a fascinating drama filled with political intrigue, wheels within wheels, and…oh, yeah, by the way our lead guy’s a meta.

Also commendable is how this book becomes one of the first to deal with 9/11 in a smart way. This is probably simply because it’s not at Marvel, but also because it’s handled without hoopla and is fairly straightforward. The blurb on the back of the book plays it up more than the book itself, so that’s refreshing. Again, we’re not at Marvel. Hundred’s also a compelling protagonist because he’s got the streak in him that we seldom see anymore in comics: he’s just an average guy who’s trying to do the right thing. And it’s wild that in the story arc we have here, he’s not only facing somebody offing snow plow drivers in his city, but Hundred is also having to deal with a controversial painting dealing with racism. What a villain, eh?

Tony Harris’ artwork is even smoother than what I saw of his Starman work. He’s got the kind of facial expressions and detail you expect from somebody like Kevin Maguire, and a sampling of the photos Harris used for reference are included in the back, a nice addition. There’s also a cast of characters giving credit to the main models. Nice. Basically the art is crisp and there’s no doubt as to what you’re looking at on the page.

The book is good. I’m hoping it stays sharp and doesn’t waver like Y has seemed to do recently, but the book’s good enough in this arc so I can tell you to pick the damn thing up and then grab the individual issues as they hit. It’s one of the few books on stands these days worth selling out the coin for.