GRAPHIC NOVEL
Ex Machina
The First Hundred Days

Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Tony Harris and Tom Feister
Titan Books
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84576 025 5
Available 25 March 2005


When a strange accident gives civil engineer Mitchell Hundred amazing powers, he becomes America's first living, breathing super-hero. Eventually, tiring of risking his life merely to help maintain the status quo, Mitch retires from masked crime-fighting and runs for Mayor of New York, winning by a landslide. And that's when his real adventure begins...

The First Hundred Days collects together the first five issues of the Ex Machina comic book. This charts the origins of Mitchell Hundred's transition from engineer to super-hero to Major of New York City.

It's interesting the way the narrative unfolds as the story jumps between all three segments of Hundred's life. Can he stop himself from strapping on that rocket pack and S&M style flying helmet when his mentor, Kremlin, attempts to persuade him to to fight the good fight, not from behind a desk, but back on the streets as a masked vigilante? Hundred doesn't work like that any more, but when bodies start piling up Kremlin believes that Hundred's old arch enemy is still alive.

Brian K. Vaughan's writing skills are really pushed to the limit here as he squeezes out some serious creative juices in a very short space. I really would have liked to have seen the origins of this collection stretched a little more. It felt a little too rushed. That's not really a complaint, I just suppose I was warming to the characters and didn't want the tale to be over quite as soon as it was.

Sadly, I found the whole 9/11 thing to be a bit pointless. I suppose though, that we've got that to look forward to in USA books and comics for years to come. While this collection is supposed to be set in the real world (hence Hundred being the first real superhero) did they really have to use 9/11 as crutch for united grief? As a way to make you feel closer to the character? "Look! He's a hero because he went into one of the burning towers and saved a man!"

That slight niggle aside, this is a damn fine collection.

Nick Smithson

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