This Week’s Haul

A very light week right before Christmas. I guess comics ill arrive on Friday for the next two weeks.

  • Countdown to Final Crisis #19 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Tony Bedard, Keith Giffen, Jesus Saiz & Rodney Ramos (DC)
  • Ex Machina #33, by Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris & Jim Clark (DC/Wildstorm)
  • The Umbrella Academy #4 of 6, by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
  • Primordia #2 of 3, by John R. Fultz & Roel Wielinga (Archaia)
Ex Machina #33 I don’t think I’ve written much about Ex Machina since I started FP. I originally started picking it up because of Tony Harris’ artwork (having enjoyed it on Starman and JSA: The Liberty Files), and it’s consistently been just interesting enough to keep reading. But it’s never nudged its way to the top of my list.

The premise is that Mitchell Hundred had an accident which gave him the ability to talk to and command machines. He had a brief career as the only superhero, The Great Machine, but gave it up after saving one of the World Trade Towers on 9/11. He subsequently ran for Mayor of New York City and won. The series is a chronicle of his tenure as an iconoclastic leader and public figure.

Vaughan’s story is told in 4-issue increments, usually based around a single theme or even. This latest issue is the final part of “Ex Cathedra”, in which in late 2003 – Mitchell visits the Pope and ends up as a pawn in someone’s plan, as well as under the scrutiny of the Vatican due to his abilities. Like most of the story arcs, this one feels like it ends with more questions than answers, although this one does have a couple of big bangs that it goes out on; some arcs end with an anticlimax.

Vaughan has a very understated writing style, both here and in his more celebrated series, Y The Last Man. There’s always the sense that the story is going somewhere, but not a feeling of a whole lot of progress. There are little kernels of information that someone in Mitchell’s world knows what happened to him, or why it happened to him, but I don’t feel like I really know more about Mitchell’s situation than I did at the beginning. I think that’s what frustrates me the most, and I guess it’s just a mismatch between Vaughan’s writing style and what I prefer to read. Maybe I ought to go back and read the whole thing so far at once. and see if it reads better at one shot.

Harris’ art is still terrific, and he’s an artist very well suited to a book which as many “talking heads” scenes as this one. On the other hand I think the script could push him harder, especially in rendering some more amazing pictures. (This issue does have one pretty good scene in that regard, though.)

After three years’ worth of issues, the jury’s still out on Ex Machina, which is a long time for me to stick with a series with that feeling. But I do want to know what’s going on, so I keep reading; I wish Vaughan would speed things up, though.