Saturday, July 24, 2004

Quick comics reviews!
Ex Machina #2
This is one of the more promising new titles this year, by Brian K. Vaughan, a guy who writes two of my favorite comics, "Y: The Last Man" and "Runaways." It's got a hell of a hook for a premise. "Ex Machina" is set in an alternate version of our reality, where everything is pretty similar to what happened here, right up to the 9/11 attacks. But on Sept. 11, 2001, Mitchell Hundred, a small-time aspiring superhero with the ability to control machines, stepped up and changed history. In this world, thanks to Hundred, only one tower fell on 9/11. A few weeks later, Mitchell Hundred is elected the mayor of New York City, defeating some guy named Bloomberg. Vaughan sets his story in the early days of Mayor Hundred's term.
"Ex Machina" is shaping up to a fascinating little comic, a combination between political thriller, action drama and satire with the same cutting edge Vaughan brings to his other works. Vaughan flips around in the timeline a lot here, going in #2 from an early tense meeting between Hundred and the police commissioner of New York during Hundred's "vigilante" superhero days, to shortly after he becomes mayor and dealing with an outrageous art museum controversy that wouldn't seem out of place in the real Manhattan. "Ex Machina" is still setting up its world, and it's not clear where Vaughan is going in the long run, but I love the bravado of using something as recent and sensitive as the 9/11 attacks for a springboard for speculative fiction. After all, all art comes from life somehow. Just two issues in, this series promises to be one of the more novel comics to come along in a while. Backed up by gorgeous art from Tony Harris of "Starman" fame, it's a compelling package. Grade: A-

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