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Ex Machina #3

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



"State of Emergency"

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Tony Harris (p), Tom Feister (i)

Publisher: Wildstorm Comics

Plot:
As the press has a field day with the publicly funded controversy at the Brooklyn Museum, we get a look at a slightly unsettling aspect of our hero's abilities, as we learn he's in constant communication with all manner of technology and has to retreat far below the city for a moment of calm. Meanwhile the snowplow killer targets a second victim.

Comments:
There's nothing wrong with this issue as it manages to nicely capture the juggling act that our hero has to pull off as he tries to run the city, while dealing with the added complications that come with his abilities, and the suggestion that the snowplow killer might be a villain that our hero encountered when he was a costumed vigilante. However, the simple truth of the matter is that unlike the previous issues this one didn't leave me as overwhelmed, as there's a sense that the character is simply reacting to the problems that are piled before him rather than taking steps to deal with them. Now I can see people e-mailing me to tell me that the character took a step to resolve the n-word controversy by sending one of his aids to persuade the artist to withdraw the painting, but from an entertainment standpoint this is a less than engaging solution, and frankly it left me concerned, as the opening issues had left me with the sense that our hero’s main problem was that he was prone to act without putting much thought into his actions, and this scenario felt like the ideal moment for the character to display this quality. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that his soft solution to the problem felt a little too much like one that a seasoned politician would attempt which dampens the character's everyman appeal. Still, his conversations in the briefing room manage to maintain this element of the character, and the encounter that he has with Journal was a solid character moment.

Tony Harris brings a nice sense of realism to the title as this book is largely free of super-heroics, and yet the book manages to bring a sense of visual importance to the simple moments where the character is dealing with the mundane reality that comes with running the city. There's also a solid sequence where the art essentially takes us inside the head of the character, and the readers are barraged by a flood of interconnected moments, that manages to perfectly convey the chaos and confusion that exists inside the character. There's also a nice ominous vibe set up during the scene where the snowplow killer makes his second attack, as that final page shot is a great visual to carry readers into the next issue.



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