Ex Machina by Brian K Vaughan is another comic book series that sounds ridiclous when you spell it out on paper. Mitch Hundred is an ex-superhero. On 9/11, when he was flying around as “The Great Machine”, he managed to stop the second plane from crashing into the tower with his power to talk to machines. A few years later, he ran for mayor of New York City and won. The comic book series flashes back and forth between his political and superhero career.
In ‘Dirty Tricks’, the 8th trade paperback collection in the series, contains 2 one-shot stories and a 4 issue arc. In the first story, ‘The Race’, Hundred attempt to convince Wylie to run for office. There is a somewhat cheesy poltergeist story mixed in but it’s designed to make the reader think about race and politics more than function as a story. ‘Dirty Tricks’ is a 4 issue arc that focused on a crazed Great Machine fan who threatens the 2004 GOP visit to NYC. ‘Masquerade’ is a Halloween issue, flashing back to before Hundred was the Great Machine, and just the days when he was recovering from his injury that created his powers.
‘Ring Out the Old’ is the 9th volume of the series. It opens with a stand alone issue with a guest appearance by Brian K Vaughan and artist Tony Harris. Instead of just being a silly interlude, the issue felt like a personal statement from BKV about 9/11 and what inspired him to write the story. As ‘Ex Machina’ draws to a close (The series ended earlier in 2010 and the final collected issue will be out in November), Vaughan begins to wrap up the story of Hundred. In the next issue, Hundred pushes for windpower, but also brings up some interesting points about how green our society can ever be. And the final collection is the begining of the end. Hundred announces that he does not plan on running for re-election and he begins to suspect that his powers were not just the result of an accident.
I will be so very sad to see this series go, but one of the reasons that BKV manages to have such a solid catalog is because he knows when to wrap it up. Y The Last Man and Ex Machina have always had end dates that were not so far off and I think that helped keep the story focused. I’m sure however the story of Mitch Hundred ends, it will be just as satisfying as the final installment of Y.