Ex Machina#1: The First Hundred Days
by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris (WildStorm, 2005)

In the world of Mitchell Hundred, there are no superheroes -- until a freak accident grants him the power to talk to machines and, as the Great Machine, he tackles crime in New York in a semi-successful way. But this book isn't about that.

No, Hundred has hung up his mask and run for mayor of New York City, a post he won by a landslide. And Ex Machina is about that.

Born from the fertile mind of Y: The Last Man creator Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina is a tight, edgy look at modern politics in a post-9/11 world. Sure, Hundred still has his powers -- as well as a couple of former sidekicks to boot -- but he's worried now about the public relations nightmare of a racist painting on exhibit that was funded with public money. And the snowstorm that's crippling the city. And the killer who's knocking off snowplow drivers, making a bad situation much, much worse.

If Hundred were a Superman-like character, he'd tackle these issues in a much different way. But he isn't that kind of superhero, and Ex Machina isn't that kind of book. Much more than a story about powers and colorful costumes, it's a story about people in difficult times.

Vaughan has proven time and again how well he can write that kind of story, and it's frosting on the cake that he comes up with such inventive settings in which to stage them. Ex Machina is a very human story with a twist, but it's the people, more than the superhero twist, that will make me pick up the second volume.

review by
Tom Knapp

29 September 2007

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