Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days

(2005) Brian K Vaughan, Tony Harris & Tom Feister, Titan Books, 9.99, trdpbk, 136pp, ISBN 1-845-76025-5

This collects issues 1-5 of the title begun last year. Vaughan is probably best-known for the title Y: The Last Man (extremely overrated in my opinion) and Harris for Starman (which, aside from the odd nostalgic nod to comics long departed, I have found ignorable). This book purports to look at politics in a post 9/11 world, by making this (fictional) world's only superhero 'The Great Machine' into the mayor of New York. Mitchell Hundred is the hero in question; in this world's 9/11 he was able to save one of the two towers of the WTC, having the power to command machines to obey his will following an explosion near an alien (we assume) device. Talked out of superhero-dom by the police commissioner, Hundred runs for office to "make a real difference". Sort of The Rocketeer meets The West Wing in a downmarket stylie. Hundred has to face the furore created when a museum (which receives city funding) displays a portrait of Lincoln under the word "Nigger", while during an on-going blizzard a serial killer seems to be targeting snow plow drivers, and a shadowy government (we assume) agency attempts to blackmail him. Believe me, it sounds more exciting than it is. The only really intriguing plot elements are courtesy of the opening page, which implies bad news for 2005, and the acquisition of Hundred's powers (what was the device, etc.). The rest of the book just reads like bad TV script writing, with gratuitous bad language ("cunt", it seems, is coming back into vogue), and nothing to paticularly recommend the art (which is competent, but cluttered). If this were a TV show, I would have stopped watching by now. But I am probably in the minority here: Vaughan's Y: The Last Man seemed to be well-liked and this book has attracted the praise of Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post, so what do I know?

Tony Chester

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