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Ex Machina: A Retrospective Look

Written by Steven Harris on Tuesday, October 19 2010 and posted in Reviews

Porcelain38 takes a look back on the best series of the decade, Ex Machina. 

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:


Ex Machina was a book started in 2004 by Brain K. Vaughen (Runaways, Y:The Last Man) and Tony Harris (Starman). The series ran for a total of fifty-four issues and is most likely the greatest comic written in the past decade. While some of you might declare a book like Fables, The Walking Dead or even  Y: The Last Man as the best, and that's fine , this all opinion based anyways, but none of them have the same emotional journey that Ex Machina does.

Ex Machina focuses the journey of Mitchell Hundred from  an aspiring young boy to a bitter angry old man. Hundred started out as an architect who was exposed to an unknown artifact that left him disfigured , but granted him the ability to converse with machines. Deciding to put his abilities to good use, Mitchell Hundred  and his father like figure Kremlin and best friend Ray formed an alliance. Putting their minds together, they created The Great Machine, the world's first and only superhero. Hundred's career as a masked crusader was short lived as he gave up his identity to run for mayor of New York City. However Mitchell dawned his helmet and jet-pack for one last time on September 11th to stop terrorist from crashing a plane into Tower Two of the World Trade Center. This selfless act of heroism is what gave Hundred a boast in the public polls as the people elected him into the mayor's office.

The premise alone separates Ex Machina apart from it's peers, however it's BKV's masterful blend of politics and super-heroics that puts it above the rest. This series perfectly captures what it meant to live in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Each arc focused in on a controversial topic at the time whether it be censorship and the First Amendment, gay marriage,  the war in Iraq, the legalization of marijuana to abortion in an adult way. The creators of the series presented both sides of the argument with making it obvious what their personal beliefs were. When people look back on this series, they will be able to understand what life was like in the post 9/11 world; That's how well written this series is.

On the other side of the coin, the book focused the trials and difficulties of being a superhero in the modern world. The issues of how to operate in the modern world and deal with local law enforcement is brought up on a constant basis. Science fiction ideas of parallel universes and sentient technology provide a backdrop for the origins of the Great Machine and follow the series until it's climax. Even though it's not directly brought up the conflict of national government involvement using super-heroes in a war-zone is an idea that is strung through the background of the entire series. Mitchell Hundred even brings up the idea that it might be better to help society by giving up the superhero game and devoting himself to government.

At the end of the day, Ex Machina brings up the issue of how far someone will go "for the greater good". Mitchell Hundred is the perfect protagonist for series because he sacrifices so much in his life for the advancement of society. The man gives up a personal life, a superhero career, and damages personal friendships forever so that at the end of the day he can be put in a position he believes he can do the most good. And the tragedy of it all? Wh en all is said and done, Mitchell is transformed into an angry bitter man who risked it all and in the end sold out his dreams and ambitions for a little bit of power. Seeing how Mitchell Hundred, Ray and Kremlin start the series and where they end is absolutely heart wrenching.

Every gut wreching scene in Ex Machina, is perfectly presented by Tony Harris. When people look back on Harris's career, this series will be his masterpiece. The style of art used (taking photographs and directing actors/models) is something unseen in comics today. Using human models for each scene makes the story feel that much more grounded in reality, and gives it a more lively feeling.

Ex Machina can best be described as a modern day Julius Caesar, a terrific blend of politics, friendship and betrayals. No book on the stands today comes close to the level of emotion and power that Ex Machina possessed, and I doubt we will see a book of this caliber for some time, if not every again. So here's to Brain K. Vaughen and Tony Harris for creating the greatest comic of the decade!

So long Ex Machina, it was a fun ride while it lasted....

Review by: Porcelain38

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