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Not-So-Lame Duck Mayor

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The always great Ex Machina is coming to an end. We say goodbye.   

I have a lot of things to thank Rich Drees for. I have to thank him for allowing me to write about movies on his website, FilmBuff Online, I have to thank him for attending my wedding and making it a special time, and I also have to thank him for introducing me to Ex Machina.

Here’s the situation. At the time the series first came out, we were both living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He would get his comic books in Wilkes-Barre and I would get mine in Scranton, the two largest towns in the area.

Rich started reading Ex Machina about issue #4, and needed issues one through three. None of the stores in Wilkes-Barre had copies of these issues, so he asked if the shop I went to in Scranton, Comics on the Green, had any copies.

During this conversation, I casually asked Rich how the series was. I can’t say that I was put off by the idea of a comic about an ex-superhero who becomes mayor of New York City, but I wasn’t intrigued enough to chance it.

Rich gave the series the highest marks and strongly recommended I try it. I don’t remember if I read the copies I got for Rich or bought copies for myself, but after reading those issues, I was hooked. The series earned a permanent place on my hold list. I kicked myself for not picking it up from the get-go and was thankful that Comics on the Green is well stocked enough to have copies when I needed them.

My life has undergone a lot of changes since that time. I’ve relocated from Pennsylvania to New York. I’ve gotten married to a wonderful woman. We have had an awesome baby girl. The comics world has changed as well. Titles have started, have ended and have had many changes in creators. Artists and writers have switched companies and companies have gone out of business. But Ex Machina has remained a constant.

If you asked me back then that a title focused mostly on the political wheeling and dealing of a major metropolitan city would be not only one of my favorite books on the market, but also one of the best books of all time, I would have laughed. But it was true.

It has become one of the few series I would recommend to friends who do not read comics. I thought so much of the series that I bought a copy of the first trade for my wife to read, to show her how good it was.

However, the series was designed to be finite. It was made clear from the very first issue. But that still doesn’t help me not being sad to see it go. I’ll be sorry not to see a new issue of the series in my comic order anymore. It was one of the few series that was a joy to read. It was filled with drama and humor, action and suspense. It was one of the best comics of all time.

Ex Machina will probably live on in trade paperback, so if you missed out on the series up to now, I can’t recommend highly enough to pick up those trades and start reading. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up the phone and thank a friend of mine.

Also out this week:

Fear Agent #28:

Before Rick Remender had Frank Castle chopped to pieces and sewed back together into a Frankenstein version of himself, he created one of the better sci-fi books around. Fear Agent is a space western of the highest order where the last protector of Earth goes about trying to keep his home planet from being destroyed, and doesn’t really do all that good a job of it.

This latest arc has the look of being the last arc of the series. “Out of Step” promises to present the “final tale of the Last Fear Agent.” Could this be the end of the road for the franchise? Maybe. While time travel often plays a part in the series, all signs point to this arc being the last. But never say never in comics.

Rick Remender (W), Mike Hawthorne & Tony Moore (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

Time Bomb  #1:

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are two creators that have yet to really steer me wrong. Even at its worst, their work is readable and at its best it’s great fun and a thrilling read. So, having them paired with one of the best, if somewhat underrated, artists in comic book history on a story that redefines “high concept” is almost like Radical taking the money from my wallet directly.

The artist is Master of Kung-Fu’s Paul Gulacy and the concept deals with a hidden Nazi weapon activated in the future. A team of specialists are gathered and sent back in time to stop the activation but overshoot their target a little bit. Instead of arriving at the day the weapon was found and set off, they go all the way back to Hitler’s Germany. Can they defuse the bomb before it’s even created?

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (W), Paul Gulacy (A), Radical Publishing, $4.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Life With Archie: The Married Life #1:

The whole “Archie gets married” event of several months back, where a future Archie marries Veronica and then starts over and marries Betty, got a lot of mainstream press and attention. But did it result in good sales? Apparently so, as we are now getting a new ongoing series spinning off from that event.

It appears each issue will feature two stories—one from each potential future. The one where he married Betty looks like it’s a case of starving artists struggling with finances yet living happily in NYC. The one where he married Veronica appears to be one where the couple has no financial difficulty while living in Riverdale unhappily. Michael Uslan, who wrote the original event, returns for the series.

Michael Uslan (W), Various (A), Archie Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Ultimate Comics Mystery #1:

The purple cloud creature that attacked the Richards’ household, The Baxter Building, and other strategic locations in the Ultimate universe has revealed its motives—to rid the Earth of all its corruptive influences and create a clean world. The only chance the heroes have is to find out the true identity of the monster.

The Ultimate universe has used the trilogy miniseries format before, most notably in the storyline that introduced the Ultimate Galactus on the scene. This series is the second of three miniseries telling this story, following closely after Ultimate Enemy. So, if you are just jumping on, realize you’ve jumped on in the middle of the story, there was a miniseries before it, and one to come after it.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), Rafa Sandoval (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6:

Kevin Smith got a lot of people’s hopes up when Batman: Cacophony came out just about on time. But the first installment of this twelve-issue series took just over ten months for all six issues to arrive. This, based on Smith’s prior history of lateness, is relatively minor, but still a cause for concern. The six month hiatus should give Smith and company time to catch up, but if the wait is longer than half a year, be afraid—be very afraid!

This series has introduced a new Gotham vigilante named Baphomet, someone who the usually stand-offish Batman has taken a liking to. But can Bats really trust him? Or is his judgment clouded by the love triangle he has found himself in between Catwoman and Silver St. Cloud. Could he be making a mistake by trusting this newcomer? Or is this a new ally in his fight against crime?
 
Kevin Smith (W), Walt Flanagan (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Driver for the Dead  #1:

Snakes on a Plane was a high-concept film that was able to generate a plethora of Internet buzz for itself simply for the way it was titled. Now one of the writers of the film, John Heffernan, is coming to comics with a concept that might just have that film beat.

Alabaster Graves is a hearse driver and he has become quite skilled at driving dead bodies from one location to another. Of course, it is a relatively easy job, because his passengers never give him any trouble and there is really no rush to get to his destination. But this all changes when he has to bring a dead voodoo priest from Shreveport to New Orleans. A rival voodoo lord wants Graves’ corpse for his own nefarious uses. So, what should have been a quiet ride on the interstate becomes a ride for survival. If Graves fails, there is likely to be more than one dead guy in that hearse.   

John Heffernan (W), Leonardo Manco (A), Radical Publishing, $4.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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