Ex Machina #8


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Ex Machina #8


  • Words: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Art: Tony Harris
  • Inks: Tom Feister
  • Colors: JD Mettler
  • Story Title: Tag - Chapter 3
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Feb 16, 2005

Brain Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Superhero turned Mayor of New York City epic continues in this superb issue that provides some answers but even more questions.

Mayor Mitch Hundred is still striving to make New York the place he always dreamed it could be. He has yet to back off of any issue, no matter what controversy it may cause. Formerly this included the 1st Amendment and the rights of an artist, now he is tackling the concept of gay marriage. Hundred has set up for the brother of one of his aides to wed his lover in an officially sanctioned marriage. To make that even more fun, Vaughan has made the couple interracial, with one member being a very proud Republican. Aside from that, issues and questions continue to arise about Hundred’s past and the mysterious fragment that gave him his powers as a symbol seen around the city has caused some very strange reactions. To top it all off, Mitchell Hundred finally goes on a date and, not to shortchange his story possibilities, Vaughan has the object of Hundred’s affection be a news reporter.

Vaughan has decided to tell this story in a strange way. From the first pages of issue #1, the reader already knows everything that is set to come is going to be a flashback. This allows Vaughan to create his story in the semblance of a puzzle, giving his audience the pieces of his choosing whenever he deems the moment appropriate. He ties together past history of Mitch as The Great Machine with his attempt to become Mayor, and then combines it with his actions as Mayor. This allows him to give the reader enough exposition to further the story without telling too much and always leaving the reader wanting more. His characters are all uniquely interesting and he captures all their ideals in his witty and often humorous dialogue. From the young Mayor’s optimism to a reporter’s curiosity and his young aide’s apprehension, nothing is every shortchanged. The reader truly understands each of the characters and their motivation.

It becomes harder and harder to find new ways to heap praise on Tony Harris. Neal Adams once said, “If superheroes really existed, they would look the way I draw them.”  Well, the same can be said for Tony Harris. His characters all look believable. He is without peer in terms of capturing facial expressions and emotion, everything from the surprise of a child to the aforementioned optimism of Mayor Hundred. The few action scenes in each issue are drawn with exquisite flair, displaying Harris’ ability to turn a perfect looking face into a beaten down bloody pulp. Most importantly though, is Harris’ straightforward storytelling. In a series told in flashbacks, Harris keeps everything simple enough that his art style never confuses the reader. Something must also be said for colorist JD Mettler, who brings the whole story to life with his vibrant colors and exceptional shading techniques.

This is easily one of the premier books on the market right now. Vaughan and Harris have combined superheroes with the real world in an incredibly fun post modern romp that includes ample doses of humor, action, mystery, intrigue, and even a little bit of horror; all the while, never losing focus on the incredibly complex and entertaining story they are telling.

- Sam Moyerman

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