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Ex Machina #1

Posted: Saturday, June 26, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Tony Harris and Tom Feister

Publisher: DC/Wildstorm

I'm a little late getting a review out on this title, and this is largely my fault for not paying closer attention to the previous week's shipping list, as I wasn't aware this book had even arrived in stores until I started seeing other reviewers commenting on it. In any event the late review should allowed me a little more freedom when it comes to discussing this book's surprise ending, and while I'm not going to spoil it outright, I will say that I wasn't as stunned as I expected to be, though I suspect part of it stems from the simple fact that enough time has passed that the impact of the tragedy isn't as immediate. Now I'm sure there will be readers who will be upset, but truth be told I think Brian K. Vaughan did a solid job of balancing the needs of his story with the real world emotions that could've derailed the story if he had taken a more sensationalistic approach. I also like the fact that there is a nice unspoken element to the issue as one has to assume that one of the primary reasons why our hero is currently in the position of power that he currently holds is due largely to his actions on September 11th.

The book also does an effective job of developing its lead character, as we have a good idea of his abilities, how he got them, and in one of the book's more amusing sequences we see that his decision to becomes a costumed hero was not exactly packed full of public adoration. I also like the fact that the character comes across as a bit of a Joe Average, as I enjoyed the scene where he's upset that the first person he rescued is not blown away by the fact that he's just been rescued by a man with a jet pack. There's also a nice little flashback scene where we see our hero was a bit of a comic book geek when he was kid, and I had to smile at his interaction with the reporter, as it shows he hasn't exactly gotten the idea that reporters love it when public figures speak before thinking how it'll be perceived by the reading public.

Tony Harris was one half of the creative team that created "Starman", one of my favourite series to emerge out of the 1990s, and as such he's amassed a great deal of good will in my books. However, it also doesn't hurt that he's a very sound artist with a solid grasp on all the fundamentals of good art, as his characters are quite expressive, and they never look like they are posing, but rather they move about the panels with a seeming effortless grace. Plus, the opening and closing images make for powerful images, with the impact of the opening page gaining far more importance when we get a look at the final page.



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