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Ex Machina #12

Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Fact v. Fiction, Chapter 1"

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

Plot:
As Mayor Hundred finds himself summoned for jury duty we see decides that it might do his image good to be seen performing his civic duty, and as such he agree to enter the ninth level of hell that is jury duty. Meanwhile various criminals in the fair city find their actions being brought of a halt by a new costumed hero who is a little too mechanical in his dealings with them, but as the issue closes we make a surprising discovery about this new hero.

Comments:
Not a bad issue by any stretch of the imagination, but when it's held up in comparison to the previous issues that Brian K. Vaughan has offered up on this title this one does stand out as the weakest outing. I mean the first chapter of any arc is supposed to grab the reader's attention as it's job is to offer up the big ideas that will carry the arc and as has been the case on the previous arcs this issue offers up two plot threads that will be competing for attention, as we have Mayor Hundred assigned to jury duty, while out in the crime infested streets of New York a new costumed hero makes their debut. Now the first idea could get a little more interesting once we learn the actual facts of the case he's been assigned to, and get a look at the other members of the jury, with special attention of course being paid to the mystery man who looks a little too eager to get on that jury. However, right now the simple fact of the matter is that Mayor Hundred's adventure in this issue struck me as being a little humdrum, and as a result I found the issue simply didn't grab me as much as previous issues. As for the second plot involving New York's newest super-hero the final line of the issue does offer up a surprising connection between this character and Mayor Hundred, but once again this idea left me feeling a bit flat. Still the Robocop mentality of this new hero did make me smile, as how can one not love the opening interaction that he/it has with the prostitute after it looks like her john has just been killed. In fact the most enjoyable moments in this issue are the various back and forth interactions that aren't really important to the plot, with the scene where Mayor Hundred's foul language is discussed being my personal favourite section of the issue, though the scene where the incredulous court clerk reacts to a man's attempt to volunteer for jury duty rates a very close second. This issue's flashback scene which looks at a Great Machine adventure also had a nice sense of realism about it, as he's nearly done in by a flare gun.

Tony Harris continues to bring a sense of realism to these pages that is key to this book's success, as even the more fantastic elements of the title manage to convey the sense that they are taking place very much in the real world. I mean there's a wonderful looking sequence in this issue where we see the Great Machine working to keep a suicidal man from crashing his helicopter into the Statue of Liberty, and the art perfectly captures the idea that our hero spends most of this encounter distracted by how he's going to save the day that he nearly gets himself killed. The visual design of the new hero is also quite impressive as how can one not help but be impressed by the visual impact of that final page. I also rather enjoyed the extra little details, like the little strap that keeps our new hero from losing his gun, or the bored body language of the people standing in line at the courthouse. The cover image is also pretty impressive as I love the fact that our hero looks like he's just had a very rough night.



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