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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 11 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Ex Machina Book 1 TP (Paperback)
I missed out on this series the 1st time around, having read the excellent Saga and Y the Last Man by Brian K Vaughan I was eager to devour more of his work. Picking up this new book 1 has opened by eyes to a series full of fantastic character writing and story telling.

Formally collected as 2 seperate volumes, this books collects issues 1 to 11 of the limited series. While the protagonist depicted in these books is a former super hero the stories touched on in the pages of this volume cover a broad range of subjects you would not normally see in a traditional super hero volume.

As a self-outed ex superhero who has the ability to control machines our main character has retired and run successfully for mayor of New York. The book weaves some of the super origin story, campaign history and current political struggles into the mix. we see race and gender politics considered as well as examinations of the media.

Set in a world very soon after 911 in New York it's hard to define this book as any one thing, other than brilliant. It's a modern take on the ramifications of super heroics as a well as a political drama in the style of the west wing. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Vaughan's other work and to anyone with a interest in great story telling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superhero political thriller? Why, yes - If the retired superhero becomes mayor of NYC!, 28 Aug. 2010
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Hadourien68 (Langen (Hessen), Deutschland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ex Machina Deluxe Edition HC Vol 01 (Hardcover)
This book collects the first 11 issues of Y The Last Man/Lost writer and executive producer Brian K. Vaughan's second ajor comics work: Political thriller Ex Machina.
Mitchell Hundred is a 13th generation New Yorker, working as a civil engineer for his town until a freak accident involving a seemingly alien artifact gives him the power to telepathically talk to machines of al kinds. Inspired by comics and by his very passionate father figure, Coney Island technician "Kremlin", he becomes the first costumed hero ever, The Great Machine. Until he realises he could do ore good as a public servant than as a vigilante, s he goes public and runs for Mayor as an indipendent, eventually winning by a landslide because on September 11th he stopped the second plane from destroying the second of the Twin Towers.
Life as an indipendent Mayor, as well as a retired superhero with a dark, horrible secret, is not easy. Glamourous and dangerous and successful as Hundred may seem, the book actually starts with him telling us this is the story of his rise and fall during his 4 year term...
And you know it won't end up well, you see him being as much a naive idealist as an arrogant prick, but still: There you are, roting for him! Mayor Hundred is a most human figure, despite all this science fiction, fanta-political setting. Human and life-like are also all of his supporting cast, frm the young and soon promoted intern, to his police Commissioner, to his Deputy and to his Chief Of Security... All in different ways strongheaded and indipendent just as much as their boss, and so dedictaed to him that you feel for them much more than for him, as they ultimately are more the victims of Hundred's not-guilt-free past and present than the mayor himself.
The thrilling stories contained here (the volume an be easily read on its own, in case you end up not liking it enough to go on) are multilayered epics, which deal with politica issues as well as science fiction ones and bring you deep into the stories and characters. Honestly, unless you hate it from the start I bet you'll want to know more.
Vaughan is aconsumed writer and I can see him using some of the tricks that made his previous opus, Y The Last Man, such an engaging read. Still, they are adapted here to the different subject matter and tone of the book. Though bot works are political, although on different levels, YTLS is more high-adventure, while Ex Machina is more explicitly a political thriller. The secrets, the intrigue, the obvious fact that the main charater is a Mayor... Combined with Vaughan being a television writer as well, make Ex machina work like a TV show, slightly reminding of 24 in the change constant change of setting (which obliges the reader to pay extra attention, while rewarding him with deeper and more entertatining storytelling) which is also change of time here, as the story bounces back and forth between Hundred's politicam present and his pre-Mayor superhero and retired superhero days.
Every issue ends in an emotional and/or suspence charged splash page, though you will find more inside for narrative impact and teaser/misdirection - as the real blow always is at the end nonetheless. A notable exception is issue 10, the endof the second major arc in this collection, as this is sort of a wrap-up and a bit of a subdued, private moment for our main character...
Speaking of whom, it must indeed be said that it's kind of hard to make up your mind about a man who behaves as a master tactician, a clever and sometimes ruthless politician, while also being such an idealist and a non-conformist. He and this series may not be the most original things ever, but their story is masterfully, engagingly told...
... and drawn as well! Tony Harris is well deservedly a multi-award winner artist, and he is also a very integral part of the book's success. If the characters come so strongly to life, it's also in huge part due to his skills at visual characterisation and depicting facial expressions, for one. His page layouts and pure drwaing technique is enhanced by the lavish and always poignant palette of colour-god JD Mettler too.
In closing, a few comments on the collection itself.
It is a beautifully bound book, ad abeautifully designed one too.
The artwork for the non-comics pages is well chosen, chapter art pages are very poignant chapter headngs, and splitting the book into chapters corresponding to the story arcs (be they single issue ones or mulitple issues ones) is a very good idea for such an hardcover edition.
Novelist Brad Meltzer's introduction is also vry well written, and including the series' original proposal at the end of the book is the icing on the cake! Only minus point: The covers to the original issues are only reprinted when at the beginning of a chapter, when at least a gallery featuring them in smaler size would have also been nice... but maybe only for completists, so that is not really a big problem.
The bottom line is quite simple: if you lke wll written, well thought, emotion charged political thriller, yu can't really afford to miss this one sitting atop the genre with the very best!
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Ex Machina Deluxe Edition HC Vol 01
Ex Machina Deluxe Edition HC Vol 01 by Brian K. Vaughan (Hardcover - 25 Jun. 2008)
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