Ex Machina #14 (2005)

There’s just something special about Tony Harris’s art. It’s hard to put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the art deco inspiration I see in his line work, or the interesting ways he draws people’s faces. Or maybe it’s the fact that his characters seem to have depth and heft and seem to carry their histories around with them like shadows on a sunny day. Whatever the key, Harris’s art is just perfect for the world of Ex Machina. This comic is at its heart a story about people. It’s about relationships and personal battles as much as it’s about enemies and larger battles. Mayor Hundred’s New York feels like our real New York. Only a very few details have changed. Harris captures that world perfectly.

This is the final issue of the "Fact v. Fiction" arc, another solid Ex Machina story from Harris and writer Brian Vaughan. Mayor Hundred gets caught in a hostage situation at the New York City Courthouse, while the truth behind New York’s second flying man is revealed. The hostage storyline is spooky. As readers, we feel the odd predicament of Hundred well. How does he protect his fellow jurors while also saving the man who keeps them all hostage? Mayor Hundred’s decision surprised me, and the ending revelation about the cause of the hostage situation coolly undercut the more cliched comic book elements of the story.

In fact, the whole issue seems a bit of a meta-commentary on comics. The other flying hero has roots in comics, and there’s an interesting twist on that story as well. I was actually a bit disappointed that the flying hero story took center stage over the hostage story, as the latter seemed more compelling to me. But that may be one of those complaints that disappear when the whole arc is collected in TPB format and can be easily read in one sitting.

This is yet another solid issue of a consistently solid series.


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