Review: Ex Machina #43

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The penultimate storyline of this title continues with New York City Mayor Mitchell Hundred taking time to clear up some personal and political matters before covertly embarking on what could turn out to be a suicide mission against a killer who is using the rats in the sewer system as a weapon against the city populace. To confound the problems His Honor is having; it appears that the unknown assailant is adopting the exact same variation of Hundreds own communication powers that his supposedly deceased nemesis Jack Pherson previously used to control the actions of several animal species. Plus, Mitchell’s trifecta of troubles is complete when his head of security Rick Bradbury botches a vital mission to prevent potentially damaging facts being revealed about what actually happened the day the Great Machine became the national hero who saved one of the Twin Towers.


EXM_Cv43.jpgThe main strength of the Hundred personality throughout this impressive series has been the way that he has faced every issue with a strong intelligence, an instinctive heroism and the wisdom to try a new direction when the current plan was obviously not working. This particular episode takes these qualities to a higher level because Mitchell knows that the only way to defeat the so-far anonymous enemy is to re-imagine his Great Machine persona and covertly use his superhero powers to stop the bad guys plan no matter what it costs him personally. Ongoing events have forced him onto this hazardous course of action and although he could still use his Mayoral authority to try and chart a less risky path, he ultimately still does the right thing.

Brian K. Vaughan has always written his main character as if he was a real human being who was valiantly striving to cope with godlike capabilities. Over the years there have been several plot hints suggesting Hundred has a higher purpose and the comparisons to a Messiah-like figure were manifold. However, in this issue we have what I believe is a more overt connection to Christian lore. In the pages where Mitchell records his possible last thoughts for the father figure in his life, Kremlin, it felt very reminiscent to me of Jesus conversation in the garden of Gethsemane. A task needed to be done and only one person could do it. The outcome was uncertain but there was no question that the attempt was going to be made anyway. The whole scene elegantly conveys an impression of impending doom and it was probably the most powerful scripting that I read in any of this weeks comic book output. Over the course of the whole several years’ worth of endeavour, Mr Vaughan words and respect for his main protagonist transcend their Bande Dessinee origins and reach for the status of literary prose.

The art of co-creator Mr Tony Harris is an integral part of this series and is of such a consistently high quality that I sometimes just forget to examine it in any close or analytical detail because I am just enjoying the visual experience of reading his work. His panel layouts and character design are first rate and in particular this time, the dream sequence pages at the beginning of the book were really quite superb.

There was a lot to like in this in this story and you can genuinely feel the momentum building towards this titles final fiftieth issue, where hopefully all the dangling plotlines will all be wrapped up successfully. I have no idea how this impressive artistic team plan to finish their overall story arc but I am sure that I am not the only reader who secretly hopes that they leave a way for Mitchell Hundred to return sometime in the future.

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