From the author of Y – The Last Man comes an intelligent tale of what might happen should the world’s only superhero hang up his cloak and turn to politics. After a bizarre electrocution incident, Mitchell Hundred finds that he has the ability to talk to machines and the power to make them do what he wants. New inventions come to him in dreams and, donning a jet pack and a mask, he decides to use his powers for the good of his home city New York.
Naturally, the police don’t like such random interference and Hundred eventually decides to use his public spirit in a slightly more conventional way – by running for Mayor. While his special abilities remain in place, the jet pack’s replaced with a suit and tie, and the city of New York gets a bona fide politician in office.
Vaughan delivers most of this history through flashback, keeping the pace of the action of Hundred’s heroic past tempered with the slower-paced political issues of the present. Hundred is also imbued with a certain humanity, giving his character the feel of a good man with a gift, albeit a somewhat bizarre one.
Comparisons to the excellent Gotham Central are virtually impossible to avoid and, although this book is a great read, it falls short of Central‘s five star performance. It might be because the superhero remains at the forefront of Ex Machina, where Gotham’s obvious hero is sidelined in Gotham Central, but there’s something about the balance of power in this book that doesn’t let the plot sit quite so happily.
The artwork is great, with Harris and Feister proving as comfortable in pages of talking heads as they are drawing men flying across a convincing New York.
So although we like this book and would recommend it heartily to anyone with a thing for intelligent superhero fiction, it walks in the shadow of Gotham Central, and unless you really have a preference for politics over policemen, you should start there first.
Other titles in the Ex Machina series: