Or – “Something, Something, Something Daaaaarrrrk Siiiiide…”

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Doesn’t that image look like the Emperor from Star Wars is using the Force to spy on the half-dressed secretary who lives next door?

 

No?  Just me?  Bygones…

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Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art and cover by Tony Harris

Previously, on Ex Machina:  Mayor Mitchell Hundred has always had an inherent edge over the criminals and malcontents that he faced as the Great Machine:  He was the ONLY one with powers.  When a man called Pherson arrived with the ability to speak to animals the way Mitch did to machines, the Great Machine took the worst beating of his career.  Now, as mayor, Mitchell doesn’t realize that ANOTHER superhuman has arisen; as a reporter named Suzanne Padilla has been possessed by otherworldly forced like Mitch and Pherson.  Worse still, Padilla is a crusading reporter who is absolutely certain that Hundred used his powers to tamper with the election and become mayor of New York City by unethical means.  Working with Mitch’s former mentor, the man called Kremlin, she has focused on seeking out a device that Hundred created years ago, a device that could render him powerless.  Last issue, it was revealed that the mystical weapon is in the hands of Hundred’s mother, to protect her against attack from Pherson or loonies like him…  So, what happens when Padilla goes looking for the gun?

We open with a flashback to 1980, the day when a young Mitch Hundred first finds out about the concept of Earth-Two, a world where Batman is dead.  (Hundred’s backstory is filled with real comics’ history and ephemera, including a love of the Legion of Super-Heroes…)  His mom is moving the family downstate to help with Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign, but Kremlin warns her dourly that her man can’t take the White House with his history.  Cut to present day (or, at least, contemporary to the story) as Mitchell confronts a being who claims to be his creator.  “Our world used to be a lot like yours, until pollution, war, and disease all but destroyed it completely,” says teh being.  Mitch isn’t interested in yet another explanation about his powers and accuses “Dad” of wrecking world after world, seconds before returning to consciousness in a tugboat on the East River.  His bodyguard, Bradbury, has dragged his carcass out of the river, where Suzanne THREW him last issue, and brought him back with some practiced CPR…  They aren’t sure what it is that Padilla is working towards, only that she wants “The Opener,” but neither of them know what that is.

As for Suzanne, she is FLYING under her own power across the skyline of New York, possessed by unearthly forces, assessing the remaining tower of the World Trade Center (saved by The Great Machine in this reality.)  She gets a phone call, which turns out to be Kremlin, who arranges a meeting with her at Hundred’s moms house.  Kremlin thinks that Mitch is the threat, and tells  his mother so, but she replies that her boy is the gentlest soul in New York City.  Back at Gracie Mansion, Hundred and Bradbury return to find Hundred’s lawyer on the grounds, with questions about policy, specifically policy about the ‘morning-after abortion pill.’  Mitch sets things in motion to set up his Deputy Mayor as the good guy and himself as the bad, and the lawyer reminds him that there’s no good pizza in Washington.  Heh.  That’s a great line…  Back at Martha Hundred’s, Suzanne arrives, puts Kremlin to sleep with only a single word, and confronts Mama.  Realizing that the device Martha has is the Closer she’s searching for, she tells her that it’s time to punish her son, taking Martha in her arms… AND CRUSHING HER SKULL WITH HER BARE HANDS.  As Suzanne desperately tries to keep herself on task, reminding herself that she’s doing the right thing, Mitch returns to his vault under Gracie Mansion, where his last remaining Great Machine armor sits in storage…

The story has been kind of sagging a bit in recent months, as Suzanne Padilla has moved into place to be a credible threat, but this issue sets her up as the true villain of this arc, and possibly even the second half of the series.  I didn’t care for the reveal that his powers were designed to soften up Earth for invasion during the last arc, so I’m glad to see this story moving more towards the political maneuverings that brought me onboard so long ago.  With the end of the series seemingly close (writer Bryan K. Vaughan has stated that the book will run fifty issues) I’m wondering how the wrap-up will go.  It’s been a subtle point, almost missed, that the series so far has been told by a bitter Mitch Hundred in flashback, so I’m wondering if he will make it to the White House, or even if he’ll make the end of his term as Mayor.  It’s weird for me to realize that this book that I picked up as a lark has been ongoing for five years, and has been near the top of the read stack most of that time.  It’s good to see Hundred’s story picking up steam again, and Ex Machina #47 brings me back in with a shocking loss and the promise of great conflict to come.  Ex Machina #47 earns 3.5 out of 5 stars overall, and I’m looking forward to the big finale.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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