Review: Ex Machina #39

by

Or – “Soooo, I Finally Got My Scanner To Work…”

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Occasionally, you have a moment where life steps on your toes.

So far, December has stepped on my toes, kicked me in the shmeckle, thrown dirt at my face, stolen my girlfriend, poured salt in my gas tank, and eaten my last Oreo.

Okay… the whining is done, let’s talk ’bout comics!!!

EM2.jpgPreviously, on Ex Machina:  Mayor Mitchell Hundred is a man of many contradictions.  HIs world is one of political machinations, where a single question about legalizing marijuana can lead to a firestorm, where an art exhibit can create a swirl of controversy, where issues like gay marriage are not only more than just nebulous concepts, they’re *his* problem.  But Mitch Hundred is more than just the mayor, he was also once known as ‘The Great Machine,’ a jet-packed hero whose ability to control mechanical devices allowed him to save thosands of live, and even (in his reality) one of the Twin Towers from destruction.  Lately, a leather-clad lunatic calling herself “Trouble” has been annoying New York’s social systems with minor mayhem, going to far as to call out The Great Machine himself.  Now, Trouble has made direct contact with the Mayor, insisting that he accede to her demands.  When asked why he would even listen to her, Mitch is shocked to find that she’s RIGHT OUTSIDE his window, walking a tightrope high above the streets of New York…

This issue starts with a flashback to the events of September 11th, 2001, moments after the first tower has collapsed.  The streets are filled with with ash and paper, and a disoriented and bloody woman walks through the clouds.  She finds a man trapped under a fallen lamp, and is even more terrified to find that he is blind.  He asks about his dog, and she lies that he’s okay.  The woman tries to help him, but the man is obviously beyond help.  She looks up, and suddenly her eyes fill with tears as she sees the Great Machine swooping in to save the day.  “It’s okay,” she says, “We’re all gonna be okay.  He’s back.”  Smash-cut to the present, as we see Trouble (obviously the same woman) trying to get Mitch’s attention before she splatters on the sidewalk.  “I’m not the Great Machine,” he says in his best John Wayne voice, “and I don’t answer to threats.”  Mayor Hundred’s advisors protest that he’s been foolish even listening to the crazy woman, asking about the speech he’s supposed to give for the President.  “Tell him it would have been a doozie.”

MItch shoos away his people, and Trouble orders him to lock the door to his office.  He tries to tell her no, but she feigns a fatal fall, and he changes his mind.  While his bodyguards try to break in, the mayor and his masked stalker talk it out.  She tells him that he wouldn’t remember her, and he (amazingly) does.  “I am seriously touched,” she says.  “I KNEW I mattered to you…”  Mitch talks her in off the ledge, literally, and she gives him her demand.  “I want you to KISS me.”  Man, to have this guy’s life.  He tells her no, and she threatens to commit suicide in his office.  MItch finally gives in, kisses her within an inch of her life…  and then punches her right out.  Some time later, we see Mayor Hundred in his office, as a Presidential envoy arrives, offering him an ambassador job.  “You don’t have any skeletons in your closet we should know about, do you?” asks the envoy, and Mitch very obviously lies and says no.  We cut immediately to his old friend Kremlin (the man behind his jetpack and weapons) meeting with a reporter and handing her a classified file.  When the woman asks what it is, he responds, “Where the end begins.”

What I love so much about Bryan Vaughan’s writing on this title is how it doesn’t feel like a superhero or comic story at all, more like a television drama, with excellent pacing and dialogue throughout.  Most of this issue is just a conversation between two people, but it is filled with enough tension and conflict to really draw you in.  The realism in moments like Mitch breaking his hand punching Trouble, his advisor telling him to “hang the #&!* up,” and Mitchell’s realization that he may get a shot at political office well above mayor are all very well-done.  Tony Harris does his usual awesome job on art (nobody draws a braided hairdo better) and the overall effect is wonderful, and even with large breaks between the issues, the pacing feels dead on.  This is a great issue, and even though the story itself took only a short time, it still felt like a satisfying chunk of story for my 3 bucks.  Ex Machina #39 earns a nicely done 4 out of 5 stars, giving me drama, intrigue, foreshadowing, and even a chick in black leather, thus hitting all my necessary points for awesome.

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