Raising The Stakes

"Ex Machina" #46 from Wildstorm (an imprint of DC Comics)

If I believed that Tony Harris and Brian K. Vaughan read this blog (which I don't, I'm sure they have more important things to do like writing and drawing "Ex Machina") and if I was uninformed enough to believe that writers and artists don't begin their work on a new issue until after the previous issue is in stores (which I'm not, I realize that production of an ongoing series happens on a ongoing basis) I might think that they actually read my review of the previous issue for this blog. Why, you ask? Because it's almost as if they took every word of advice I had for them. Is that possible? No. Just means we're on the same page. Or something...

Stiff figure poses? Gone. Lack of story development? Gone. In their place is some awesome work!
The confrontation between the super-powered mayor of New York City Mitchell Hundred and the newly super-powered crazy reporter Suzanne Padilla has come MUCH earlier than the last issue had me set to believe. And it was damn exciting too. She grabs Hundred and suddenly flies ("SHE FLIES!?" said the collective readership of "Ex Machina" last month) with him up and over the East River and drops him in! Cliffhanger 1! Then we see Hundred's former sidekick, Kremlin arriving at the home of Hundred's mother and announcing that she's in danger. When she informs him that she has some 'protection', Kremlin asks "You bought a gun?" to which she replies "No... My boy gave me one of his" and produces the green and purple taser-gun-thing that Padilla seems to want so bad! Cliffhanger 2!

But again, this series does not skimp on the politics! Before the confrontation, we also got further development on the 'abortion pill' question Mayor Hundred is wrestling with. Can (or should?) a mayor officially and financially support something as controversial as the 'morning after' pill? Can (or should?) a mayor do something unpopular, but healthy, on his way out of office since no one can stop him or do something unhealthy, but popular, in hopes of a future presidential campaign and thus more chances to help more people? Mayor Mitchell Hundred still has much to think about if he survives the drop to the river and the swim back to shore!

Harris' art has regained that OOMPH! that was missing (for me anyway) from last issue. The posing is smart, the framing is smart. The faces feel real again. Some of these panels are gorgeous! Dynamic tension rules the day! There's visual tension all over these pages and it works with the story wonderfully! The pose Padilla strikes as she drops Hundred into the river is all angles in her arms thrown akimbo in joy at defeating him. (The devilish smile on her face is priceless.) Those same angles are playing beautiful music in the shadows behind Mitchell Hundred's mother on the final page.

It's like a superhero comic made by Fritz Lang.
Jonny likey.

The only thing I'm missing is the resolution of that awesome flashback from last issue! We get a different and unrelated (at least by all accounts, it SEEMS to be unrelated) story of Hundred's super-hero past as The Great Machine. It sets up something VERY IMPORTANT about the aforementioned purple taser-gun-thingie, but I do hope we get to see if and how The Great Machine delivers that woman's baby on the Roosevelt Island tram.

Suffice to say, I am even more excited for the upcoming issues and the seres' conclusion! Vaughan and Harris are doing good work here for sure. As always, if you enjoyed Vaughan's "Y the Last Man", if you think superheroes and politics can and should mix, or if you just like drama, you should be reading "Ex Machina". And that's THE LONG AND SHORTBOX OF IT!

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