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Ex Machina #4

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



"State of Emergency, Chapter Three"

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

Publisher: Wildstorm Comics

Plot:
After looking back on the Great Machine in action where the camaraderie between him and his support crew is well established, we jump to the present day where we see Hundred is deeply troubled by the string of murders that are keeping the snowplow drivers off the roads and this has left the city buried in snow. However, his concerns are heighten when the clues about the killer's identity point to a person that Hundred knows.

Comments:
I have to say this title is quickly emerging as my favourite title, as it's a wonderful example of a writer who has taken a concept that I didn't see as being a source of entertaining stories and not only proving me wrong but also opening my eyes to the expansive nature of this setting for stories to take place. I mean civic politics has never really grabbed my attention, and frankly the only element of interest that I was able to draw from SimCity was my desire to construct the worst city in existence. However, Brian K. Vaughan has crafted an amazing platform for his story of a costumed hero who decided to hang up his cape and become the Mayor of New York City. Now to tell the truth I'm not sure I trust myself enough to sell the virtues of this title, as frankly as I look up at what I've written so far, it seems woefully inadequate to the task of explaining how good this title is, so I'll simply cut my losses by saying that this title has my highest recommendation, and I urge all comic readers to give this book a chance. As for the issue in question this book continues the trend of building on the previous issue, so that this month's effort becomes my favourite issue of the series. We open with a great look back at the Great Machine in action, and while it serves as a solid display of his power, it also manages to establish the supporting cast that our hero interacted with, which makes their return in the present day all the more powerful. The plot involving the murdered snowplow drivers also deftly moves in a very engaging direction, though I can't but feel there's a missing piece to the puzzle.

Tony Harris helps to bring a sense of realism to the material that helps to sell the key elements of this series, as the Great Machine's heroics have a wonderful down-to-earth quality to them that helps to make one understand why some people would view him as an annoyance rather than one of the bright, shiny super-heroes that we've become accustomed to. The art also does some fantastic work selling the emotional responses of the characters, as Hundred is allowed to look flustered, and his reaction to the photo of the killer does a wonderful job of showing readers the character is seeing important information. There's also a great little moment where we see the discussion that Hundred is having with Bradbury is not as private as he had hoped, and the visual impact of that final page makes for a great hook to carry us into what looks to be a killer final issue of this opening arc.



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