Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book 2
Previously, on Ex Machina…
In the first book of the series, we met Mayor Hundred, a man who can speak to and control electronic devices thanks to an explosion that gave him super powers. He was at one time a superhero called The Great Machine – someone New York City didn’t even want protection from until he saved one of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Now he is Mayor of New York City and is trying to do good in politics although people still seem to be trying to keep him from doing good.
Every superhero needs an arch nemesis, whether they want one or not. This is the book where we meet the arch nemesis of The Great Machine. The story starts in the past with Kremlin calling The Great Machine into action to stop someone from crashing a helicopter into the Statue of Liberty. Back in the present day, that same man gets out of prison. From there, we move into the actual story.
There are two major threats in this issue, as the first super powered foes appear, one in the present day and one in the past. In the past is Automation, a humanoid who sounds like a robot but is actually someone from Mitch’s past who wants to take up the cause and fight crime since The Great Machine retired. Of course, his actions get on the nerves of the always angry Commissioner Angotti. In typical fashion, she can’t stop the vigilante so she decides to get Bradbury and Kremlin to do her job for her so she can arrest them too for interfering with her incompetent police work.
Honestly, I can’t stand Angotti.
Interestingly, while Automation is on the loose, Mayor Hundred is called into jury duty only to face off with an unhinged man who threatens to kill everyone if Hundred doesn’t use his powers to cure him of a disease. While he can’t save the man’s life, he can use his powers to call for help over radios and that causes Angotti to head back to the courthouse while Kremlin and Bradbury deal with the Automation on their own.
That was a pretty great story and showed how problems can be solved in two different ways. It also leads into the introduction to the series of Mitch’s mother, who had been missing for years and Mitch learned what really happened to his father so many years before.
After this, there is some more politics. The Middle East believes that Mitch Hundred is a danger to them and many people are afraid that retaliation will come in the form of terrorist acts, especially when a peace march is about to take place down the streets of New York City. The fears come to life when a terrorist act does take place and one of Mitch’s closest companions in the Mayor’s office, Journal, dies as a result.
As Mitch tries to figure out if someone from his past is the cause of the attacks, he sets up checkpoints in the subway system which brings up the controversy of racial profiling. That leads to the search for the real killer before he can strike again.
Finally, the book goes off with a bang as we meet The Great Machine’s arch nemesis. It all starts with a radio show that Mayor Hundred is on that sabotages the interview and demands to know his standing on the death penalty. This gives Ex Machina the chance to flash back to when he met Jack Pherson, a man who received his powers much like Mitch did, except instead of being able to talk to machines, he can talk to and control any animal. It gives Ex Machina its first major superhero battle and it is fantastic. It also drives the point home that issues like the death penalty are not just black and white.
It also ends with a cliffhanger where the main parrot that Pherson owned is still alive and watching Mitch Hundred.
Honestly, Ex Machina really hit its stride in these issues (#12-20 and Ex Machina Special #1-2). The writing remained top notch, the politics were dealt with on a smart, clever level and the art was once again fantastic. This is what great comics strive to be.
Next Week’s Preview
The next book sees Mayor Hundred asked if he ever smoked pot while a mysterious traveler arrives to try to explain to Mitch how he got his powers and what they might mean.
As always, if you have any ideas for books you want to see reviewed in the Renegade Rack or you are an independent comic book creator with a book you would like considered, feel free to get in touch with me either in the comments or drop me an email.
Until next week, keep reading.