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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/13/2005 Archived Entry: "Comic review: Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days"

Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days
by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Tom Feister
Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

Review by Tom Good

Mitchell Hundred is an ex-superhero who gave up his costume to go into politics. Now the unmasked Mayor of New York City, he has to deal with an assassination attempt, a series of bombings, and even a controversial art installation involving Abraham Lincoln. The Mayor's superpower allows him to "talk" to machines and give them orders, so he has no fear of guns, because he can tell them to jam. But one adversary neatly bypasses Hundred's power by hitting him on the head with a club.

Hundred acquired his powers through the aftereffects of an explosion, one caused by a terrorist bomb. And speaking of terrorism, it seems that enough time has passed since 9/11 that comics can include that day as a piece of history, without having to try to explain it, or directly address the emotional fallout of those events. Without spoiling the plot, all I can say is that in Ex Machina's world the events of 9/11 unfolded in a slightly different way.

Ex Machina is a superhero comic about the essential impracticality of being a superhero. That aspect of it reminds me of Rising Stars. But where Rising Stars had a very large cast of characters, Ex Machina is definitely one man's story. And by making Hundred a politician first and a superhero second, the book adds a new twist to the typical Big Apple crime-fighter plot.

Some bonus pages at the end of the book show names and photographs of the real people who "played" the characters in the comic. Though the comic was drawn by hand, the art was based on reference photos of people acting out the scenes. The bonus material shows how these photographs were turned into sketches, then inked and colored. I liked this behind-the-scenes look at how the art was created.

If you enjoyed Rising Stars or Watchmen, you will probably like Ex Machina. It is off to a good start, and I am interested to see where the story is going.

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