Graphic Novel A Day: Ex Machina Vol. 4: March to War
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Tony Harris, Tom Feister, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & JD Mettler
Price: $12.99 ($10.39 on Amazon)
OK, technically this is cheating, since I wrote it on Thursday morning and back-dated the time. But end result is I didn't miss a day, so it counts. Anyway, this is the latest volume of Vaughan's political/superhero series about a New York Mayor who also happens to have gained the ability to talk to machines via an encounter with some strange alien technology. Previous volumes have focused on 9-11, free speech issues, serial murders, severe weather procedures, gay marriage and a variety of other issues involved in running New York City. This time out, it's the story of protests and the lead-up to the Iraq War, with a new terrorist attack giving Mayor Mitchell Hundred the chance to show off his skills in handling the kind of crisis his predecessor had to deal with. It's a good mystery, good political storytelling as always and great art by Harris, Feister and Mettler. Only shame of it? I thought the character killed in this arc was interesting, and the death didn't contribute so much to the story that I thought it was worth losing the character. This also contains the two-part special, with guest art by Chris Sprouse, showing the origin and full story of Mitchell's "nemesis" Jack Pherson, who gained the ability to talk to animals and a desire to help them at the cost of humanity. It's an interesting flashback to Mitchell's days as the Great Machine, and an interesting change of tone and style for the book, focusing on those superhero elements but with a more realistic style. Good as always.