Written by Brian K. Vaughn
Art by Tony Harris
This is eighth issue and counting until Brian K. Vaughn ends his drama about Mitchell Hundred’s term as mayor of New York City, struggling with all the problems that entails in addition to his little ability to talk to machines.
This issue, chapter three of the Ring Out the Old story line, deals with a growing problem of murderous rats infesting NYC right as New Year’s Eve and the big ball drop in time square approaches. Out will go 2004 and in comes 2005 and Mayor Hundred’s last year in office. Hundred is struggling on how to fix this problem. Hundred has flash backs of his old nemesis Pherson. All the while, Hundred’s friend and bodyguard Bradbury is sent on a secret mission to get rid of a mysterious “white box” Hundred had been keeping in storage. What does it do? That’ll probably be revealed in a later issue, if at all.
We seem to be speeding up to the finale, but we’re not there yet. This issue is mostly build up for the events to come. By the end of the issue, both Hundred and the readers are ready to face the end head on, and it’s sure to be one heck of a ride. Hundred is gearing up to do something he doesn’t want to do, which may very will lead to the “godforsaken” 2005 Hundred mentions in the first issue when looking back on his term. We have a year to go through in merely seven issues, so some preparedness before a pace pick up may be a good thing.
That said, if you are new, pick another issue to start on. Ex Machina is a great title to get away from the convoluted spandex of super hero comics. For a more realistic look at a person with super powers, this is a great title, especially if you like some politics and social commentary. The problem with this issue is that there’s not really any of that. Issues in running New Your City that would come up in light of the events of the issue are only lightly touched upon, if that.
This issue is a transition from one event to another, one that’s less political in nature. There’s nothing to grasp onto if you don’t know what’s already going on. That’s not bad though. It’s a natural flow, and there should be implications that fit in with the title. However, it’s not made of what makes Ex Machina great, which is Hundred, this super-powered individual, dealing with being the mayor of one of the most important cities in the world.
Harris’ art makes his characters look like real people. There isn’t any of the exaggerated perfection typically found in more super-heroic comics. Characters have pudgy guts, wrinkly faces, scraggly facial hair and saggy cheeks.
The characters are the focus of Harris’ work. The people are what stand out right now, as they often do. This book is about how these characters deal in this political and supernatural climate. Backgrounds often become simplified, sometimes even just a color or two with some shading and shadowing. Speaking of shadowing, when it’s used, it’s fairly strong. Deep blacks are possibly showing how much the current events are looming over characters, especially in the one scene in the issue with Hundred and his Deputy Mayor Dave Wylie.
There’s not really anything in this particular issue that stands out artistically though. If you like the art in the rest of this series, it’s more of the same, which tends to happen when a title has mostly the same art staff throughout the bulk of the series.
This issue is mostly a lead in for the events to come for the end of Hundred’s term in office, particularly for the next issue after what we see on the last page of this one. It’s a good read, as most of the series has been. The art is on par with the entire series. If you’ve been keeping up with Ex Machina this far, keep it going. If you’re new, start elsewhere to get a feel for the series before jumping into the final few issues.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10