“This is the story of my four years in office, from the beginning of 2002 through to godforsaken 2005. It may look like a comic, but it's really a tragedy.”
–Mitchell Hundred, Ex Machina #1
Ex Machina should never have survived 50 issues.
It's high concept–West Wing political drama meets superheroics–and should never have worked in a comics marketplace more accepting of punches than politics. It was one of the first comics to incorporate 9/11 into its central story line at a time (2004) when such attempts were awkward and embarrassing. And the biggest thing the series had going against it: It didn't star Batman, Wolverine or a licensed nostalgia property.
But what it did have was Brian K. Vaughn, riding high on his success with Runaways and Y the Last Man, wielding his research-factoids-as-dialogue tics with Sorkinian bravado (but a little less fast hallway walkie-talkie). And it had Tony Harris' fluid, hyper-real art that made the everyday actions of the everyday characters populating the book feel balletic and organic. Their collaboration over 50 issues–which was their plan from the beginning–and showed that you could make a smart, engaging comic book that made policy discussions and back-room strategy sessions more thrilling than extra-dimensional invasions.
In fact, I couldn't begin to really tell you what extra-dimensional source gave Mitchell Hundred–the former superhero known as the Great Machine who makes a successful bid for mayor of New York City after stopping second plane from crashing into the World Trade Center–his technology-controlling powers. But I know the mayor's stance on school vouchers and smoking pot, and quite frankly, that intrigued me more than any alternate world invasion.
That's why, as Ex Machina's last issue hits stands this week, I've put together a list of Mitchell Hundred's political actions that would make me vote for him in a heartbeat if he were running for mayor of my city.
1. His progressive energy policy (Ex Machina Special #4)
2. Pro public breastfeeding (Ex Machina #15)
3. Commitment to political cooperation (Ex Machina #38)
4. Gay marriage (Ex Machina #9)
5. Rebuilding on Ground Zero (Ex Machina #26)
6. Results over re-election (Ex Machina #41)
WHY I WOULDN'T VOTE FOR HIM: Not hiring Vaughn and Harris (Ex Machina #40)
Other comics to check out this week
- 1 For $1: Usagi Yojimbo If you've never picked up an issue of Stan Sakai's wonderful rabbit samurai comic, now you've got no excuse. And no, saying you hate anthropomorphic animal comics is not an excuse, snob.
- Air #24 It's the last issue of G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker's fantastic little series that could. Pick up the collected editions of this unique series if you haven't read it.
- Hulk #24 Jeph Loeb wraps up his run and his Red Hulk story line. A lot of questions were answered in the previous issue; now it's time to see how they play out.
- Star Wars Legacy #50 Another series reaches the half-century mark … and ends. Sorry, fans of this comic set in the far future of the Star Wars universe. (Does that make it our present? Because the original happened a “long time ago”?)
- Wolverine: Weapon X #16 This is the last issue of this series, too? What a depressing week. Don't worry, Wolverine–along with writer Jason Aaron–will be back in September with a new series.