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Ex Machina #11

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Fortune Favors"

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister and Karl Story
Colors: J.D. Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Wildstorm Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.00 CAN

Plot:
After the issue opens with Mayor Hundred recounting a nightmarish moment from his past, we rejoin him in the present as he looks to be pushing the police commissioner to start cracking down on the fortune tellers who operate in his city, as he views them as frauds who are fleecing the tourists that visit his city. We than see him pay a visit to a genuine psychic and during this meeting we discover the true source of his seeming vendetta.

Comments:
While this series has been constantly entertaining I have to say this standalone issue has me hoping Brian K. Vaughan has more done-in-one issues in the pipeline, as this is far and away my favourite issue that he's offered up thus far. I mean truth be told it's a rather simple story, as Mayor Hundred decides that he's going to crack down on the various fortune tellers around his city who are bilking the tourists out of their money, and when one of his underlings begs him to reconsider this course of action, he decides to pay a visit to one of the so-called genuine mystics to ask a very important question. However, while the basic premise is quite simple, the idea that drives Mayor Hundred's actions in this issue makes for a very powerful examination of the character, as we see he's forever haunted by his failures on what many consider to be his greatest success. In fact the opening pages of this issue has to be some of the most unsettling visuals that I've come across in quite some time, and if nothing else they serve to show us that our lead character is still in a very unsettling place. This issue also deserves full marks for actually addressing the idea of precognition as it makes a pretty strong case for the idea that these people are simply modern day shysters who are preying upon the gullible, but at the same time it also manages to offer up a pretty compelling case that there might be something there. In fact, the highlight of the issue would have to be the back and forth exchange between Hundred and the fortune teller as the two discuss the events of September 11th, and this conversation makes it pretty clear what is driving his vendetta against fortune tellers. This is a great issue, and it currently has my vote for the best comic of the year as nothing else I've read this year has even come close to matching the emotional intensity of that conversation.

Tony Harris deserves the lion's share of the credit for the sheer impact of this issue's opening pages, as the nightmarish quality of this sequence is perfectly captured by the art, and it makes it quite easy to understand why Mayor Hundred is extremely reluctant to look back on the events of that day. The art also manages to sell the emotions of the dialogue scenes, as I loved the expression on the police commissioner's face as she backs away from her argument about the bad vibes that come with taking on the fortune tellers. The art also does a nice job of capturing the mystical quality of the fortune teller's inner chamber, as the place actually looks like the type of setting where the spirits would reside. There's also a interesting moment where we get a sneak preview of a future storyline as Tony Harris gives readers an intriguing one panel shot of a moment from Mayor Hundred's future. However, the highlight image of the issue would have to be the page where the art captures the crushing sense of guilt as he recounts his actions from that day.



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