Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ex Machina

Courtesy of Noah Tarnow, I was recently gifted a copy of the Wildstorm trade paperback "Ex Machina," by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister. The quick synopsis is that the world's first actual superhero, The Great Machine (aka Mitchell Hundred), gives up his secret identity after a few years of misadventures in favor of channeling his energies into something much more worthwhile - politics. Homeboy runs for mayor of NYC and wins - this story supposes it was the 2002 election, so bye bye Mike Bloomberg.

This is all merely the platform the series was launched upon. When the author gets down to it, this no less a love letter to New York City and its storied lore. Vaughan takes such delight in inserting mayoral/political trivia into the narrative, giving the unconventional premise much gravity and credibility. Vaughan takes the subject matter seriously - and whether it's a winter blizzard crippling the city to an unpleasant bit of art hanging on the walls of the BMA, it all rings of truth. The supernatural aspect sits comfortably next to the terrestrial; Vaughan's great skill in dealing with this juxtaposition is estimable.

Run, don't walk to your local comic shop and look for it. If you likes it, start pulling monthly books the Vaughan reading list, including "Y: The Last Man" and "Runaways" - both highly recommended.