Monday, April 25, 2011

Ex Machina, Volume 1: The First Hundred Days

This first volume (of ten) sets up philosophical questions about superhero comics, including, What good can one man do? and How much does vigilante justice help? The title character here, Mitchell Hundred, was a civil engineer who was working on a bridge when he found a strange device that exploded, leaving him both scarred and able to communicate with and control any machine. Using his powers as the world's first and only superhero, The Great Machine, he fights crime and confronts the terrorist attacks during 9/11.

Parallel to that narrative is one set in the near future when Hundred has decided to hang up his costume and run and serve as mayor of New York City. He finds that he can do more good within the political system and promises to serve only one term. In many ways, political maneuvering proves more difficult and time consuming, and Hundred's diverse political views spark some debates. Hundred's decision does not sit well with some of his past associates, and much of the series is a dynamic interplay of present situations interspersed with past events that inform and color what happens.

This series is the creation of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Tony Harris. Vaughan is a well regarded, award winning author who is known for his work on the comics series Y: The Last Man, the graphic novel Pride of Baghdad, and the television series Lost. Harris is a 20 year comics veteran who has been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards and is known for his extended runs on Starman and Iron Man. This interview with the book's art team provides insights into their work.

Ex Machina is a celebrated series and the winner of the 2005 Eisner Award for Best New Series. Reviewers have been largely positive as well. Shawn commented that there is not much in the way of typical superhero fight scenes but that he was left wanting to follow more of this story. Hilary Goldstein wrote that it "should not be missed."

A preview is available here from DC Comics, the parent company of the book's publisher Wildstorm.

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