Ex Machina #11 Review

REVIEWER: JAMES HATTON
STORY TITLE: Fortune Favors

WRITER: Brian K. Vaughan
PENCILER: Tony Harris
INKERS: Tom Feister & Karl Story
COLORIST: JD Mettler
EDITOR: Ben Abernathy
PUBLISHER: Wildstorm > DC Comics

I’d like to think that if I was mayor of New York that I would be godawful at the job. Why? I’m way to egotistical. I mean seriously, look at me – I write comic and wrestling reviews for one of the biggest websites ever, I am currently scripting what will be viewed by the world as ‘The best thing since Watchmen’, I live in a luxury apartment building with a couple of guys who are like the MIT braintrust, and I am engaged to a sex machine that puts Angelina Jolee to shame.

Then again, due to my ability to spin bullshit, I could probably be pretty good at it.

Ex Machina, when taken away from it’s superhero bits, is a story about how a man deals with New York. His powers and abilities, along with the idea that they live in a high-tech world, add to this, but this book is about the social issues with the occasional action-oriented bit.

STORY!

This issue starts like many storylines have in the past, with a big splash to make you feel drawn into the story. In this case, it involves THE GREAT MACHINE (our Mayor Hundred’s former superhero identity) daydreaming about that time his friend Gwen Stacy died. (No, it’s not Gwen, but it’s a girl falling off of a structure). Why, well read on dear friend.

Hundred wants to stop the charlatans, the con artists, not to mention the scallywags, and ne’er-do-wells. Specifically, those that bilk tourists out of their life savings at the hope of savaltion.

Time-share salesmen.

Actually, it’s gypsies and fortune tellers. It is a bit odd that out of nowhere he just decides to get rid of them at the beginning of the story, but it seems to be a bit of a veiled political statement against Giuliani’s war against porno in Times Square. See, porn booths aren’t illegal, yet they were kicked out of NY quicker than you can say ‘Sploogemopper’. Fortune telling apparently is illegal because it doesn’t feature boobies. (Who knew?!)

Anyway, he is asked by one of his junior staff to NOT do this, as a fortune teller told her not to go to work the day after September 10th. This is where things get a bit odd. I understand that there is an underlying political tone to this book, and dealing with New York will bring you right back to 9/11, but the later half of this book is quite literally Mayor Hundred crying over it. It doesn’t come across as exploitive to such a tragedy, but it does feel a bit forced. It does though, put an exclamation point to this issue, but I don’t think it needed to be such a severe one.

I’m sure if I was more political, I might find the whole thing distasteful, but when it comes down to it – Vaughan is telling a story about saving one life, and using 9/11 as the historical backdrop. At least that’s what this issue is about.

I’m sure there will be more.

ART!

Geez I talked a lot in the story section. That’s because it’s a damn good story, and I just had a chocolate cream donut with my coffee. Damn sugar! So, the art.

The art team of Ex Machina has been more than consistent since the beginning, and this issue is no exception. The periods of the past blend into the periods of today seamlessly. The use of color choices and palettes is a perfect example of how to let color define your tone and setting.

All of this AND! Mayor Hundred’s facial expression is always perfect. He could be cursing someone off and telling an off color joke in one panel – and his face would reflect both acceptably. Harris outdoes himself with making sure that Hundred isn’t just a character, but an interactive person who, like any good politico, can charm you with his smile.

OVERALL!

Who knew I liked this book so much… oh wait… EVERYONE likes this book. Brian Vaughan is a god amongst comic books right now – and as far as I’m concerned, he is Bendis 4 years ago. Sitting on one or two high profile books (Ex Machina is to Powers as Ult. X-Men is to Ult. Spidey – use that on your SATs) and awaiting the day Marvel or DC hand him the keys to the universe.

I think if Bendis and Vaughan had to fight… Vaughan would win… unless Bendis pulled that bald head trick from Diggstown. Sorry, sugar again, go buy this book.

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