Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ex Machina #50

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Tony Harris

When Ex Machina started back in 2004, it really stood out on the comics stands.  On the surface, it was a superhero book, telling of the adventures of The Great Machine, the hero of 9/11 (he stopped one of the airplanes, thereby saving one of the twin towers, although the other still collapsed).  The thing is, by the time the story opened, The Great Machine had hung up the jetpack, and was instead taking office as Mayor of New York.

What followed, over a stellar fifty-issue run, was what could be the first truly political comic.  As Mayor, Mitchell Hundred sounded off on any number of controversial issues, such as gay marriage, abortion, terrorism, and others.  The book was squarely grounded in New York City, and incredibly smart.  In the background, there were always hints of a threat from the interdimensional beings that gave him his powers, but this book was about city politics first, and Hundred's relationships with friends, family, and employees second.  And I think that's why I've enjoyed this book as much as I have over the years.

The last few issues, where Vaughan was rushing to get the Suzanne Padilla threat from beyond plot over with, kind of lost their focus on Hundred and his people, so this issue was a huge treat.  In it, Mitchell basically deals with the consequences of the craziness that happened, including the legal ramifications of his putting his superhero suit back on.  Hundred's one of those teflon kind of politicians, so in no time, he's back on his feet serving as Ambassador to the UN, something that had been hinted at before.

This issue is full of surprising character moments, from Bradbury's drunken revelation to Kremlin and Mitchell's last conversation.  Some of the biggest surprises of all come from seeing where Hundred's political career takes him, which I'm sure will have lots of fans talking, but I found it made perfect sense, as well as giving the book one last jolt.

In the end, this was a pretty experimental book, which can be considered a huge success.  Vaughan's writing has been great, and Tony Harris, who was an amazing artist when the series began, has become even better.  This issue is absolutely gorgeous.  I can't wait to see what these two are going to be up to next (hopefully soon).

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