Ex Machina #9 Review

Reviewer: Tim Byrne
Story Title: Tag: Part 4

Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Penciled by: Tony Harris
Inked by: Tom Feister
Colored by: Jo Mettler
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: Wildstorm > DC Comics

My teaser comment on this series is no exaggeration. It is simply magnificent.

Brian Vaughan is, by quite a margin, the premier writer in comics at the moment. His current series include Ex Machina, Y :The Last Man, Ultimate X-Men and Runaways. There is a reason that all of these series have been critical smashes, with the re-launch of Runaways resulting in a recent sell-out at the publisher.

He is just that good. Ex Machina is a series that has managed the almost-impossible task of making a super-hero who holds a political office as both believable and fascinating. Vaughan has obviously worked out a detailed time-line for this series, and the jumps backwards and forwards in the time-line of Mayor Hundred are clear and easily comprehensible.

Briefly, in this issue, the Mayor suffers a more-planned assassination attempt, further comments on the marriage of two people of the same sex, and suffers the repercussions of his politically-motivated date.

We also have a flashback to see the events of September 11, 2001, and gain a further understanding of the helplessness that even a super-hero would have felt in the face of such a tragedy (despite his comparative success on that day).

The underlying suspense and (even) horror of the incident involving the two women on the train in the last issue is not forgotten, and partially results in one of Vaughan’s trademark last-page shocks. The man writes the greatest last-pages in comics, and I still defy anyone not the catch their breath at the simply stunning conclusion of Ex Machina #1.

Tony Harris is someone whose name has been spoken of in hallowed tones, primarily for his work on Starman. Here he engages in a quasi-realistic style that is both striking and easily palatable. Facial expressions are both obvious and subtle. The women are interesting and engaging rather than purely hourglass-shaped and sexual (Michael Turner, I’m looking at you).

I’ve heart that this series is planned to last for only 40 issues, and is working to a definite timeline.

Do yourself a favour, pick up the first trade, and start reading NOW. I’ve yet to hear a reader of this series criticise it.

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