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Ex Machina, Vol. 4: March to War Paperback – December 6, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: WildStorm (December 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401209971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401209971
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.3 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Mitch Hundred, aka the Great Machine, saved the second tower from falling on 9/11 by communicating directly with the airplane heading toward it. His heroics convinced the citizens of New York to elect him mayor, and March to War opens with Mayor Hundred dealing with unrest in the city. Political cartoons display him as a caped superhero unable to handle the daily needs of the city, and a protest against the war in Iraq has it divided. Advisors warn him not to approve the protest, and staff member Journal Moore resigns because her boyfriend is a veteran and she wants to support him by attending it. As predicted, chaos ensues, sarin gas is thrown into the crowd, four die immediately, and dozens more are rushed to the hospital, including Journal Moore. In an effort to regain his political clout and to find out who hurt her, Hundred initiates mandatory searches at every subway station. Even this may not prove enough to stop the terrorists and the mayor may revive his alter ego in order to save New York once again. The graphics seem a mix of World War II-era propaganda posters and edgy graphic novels like Sin City. With the exception of a few characters with superpowers, this is one of the most realistic comics available. With advanced political content and some raunchy language, it's most appropriate for older teens.—Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

One of the most successful attempts to set a superhero into a "real world" milieu, Ex Machina follows New York mayor Mitchell Hundred, who parlayed a brief career as a costumed crime fighter into a political career. In this collection, an apparent terrorist attack kills four people at a rally protesting the Iraq war. As anti-Muslim violence rends the city, Hundred is forced to use his power to control machines to track down the perpetrators. Despite the series' high-concept premise and plot-driven nature, its most notable aspects are Vaughan's compelling characterizations and adroit dialogue, aided immeasurably by the ramped-up realism of Tony Harris' artwork. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
I love good art.
All in all, volume four of "Ex Machina" is a good read that is a bit weaker early on than the rest of the books.
Pat Shand
Almost impossible to tear yourself away from this series once you've started reading it.
Paul Polonskiy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on December 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ex Machina seems like it can do no wrong, and is constantly improving. In the fourth volume of Brian K. Vaughan's political superhero tale, Mayor Mitchell Hundred has to deal with controversy over a protest over the Iraqi war. After he gave the protestors a marching license, he immediately became the target of conservative backlash. However, none of that really matters after someone releases ricin gas at the protest, killing and injuring many demonstrators, and landing a friend of Hundred's in the hospital.

Hundred and Angotti work closely together to find the person who released the gas, and though we don't see too many flashbacks to Hundred's days as the Great Machine, we see a new side to Hundred and Angotti's relationship.

The second story is the two-issue special that introduces Hundred's old nemesis, Jack Pherson. While doing a radio show, Mitch is reminded of his final showdown with Pherson, and we learn his origins. Pherson was a sound technician who was working with someone who wanted to replicate Hundred's ability and market it. A freak accident caused Pherson to gain the ability to talk to animals, much the same way Hundred talks to machines.

Having Pherson communicate with animals is, in my opinion, the perfect mirror to Hundred's ability to talk to machines. Each represents one extreme side of human consciousness; machines are cold, calculating, and logical, while animals are instinctual and wild.

The political stories and superhero events are expertly intertwined; Vaughan is able to masterfully blend these two genres and create something unique. Ex Machina is always great, and this volume is no exception.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Ortman on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book has never been able to fully engage me, yet I always pick up the trades. While the writing has never really sold me, there has always been obvious potential and the art by Tony Harris is very nice. So even if the book has failed to live up to expectations set by others, it is still better than a large number of other books that I buy (I'm not a very hard guy to sell a comic book to), so I continue to support the book.

This volume experienced a noticeable and substantial improvement - particularly over the third volume (which I didn't care for). There are essentially two stories in this trade. The first deals with Mayor Hundred trying to support the rights of protesters of the Iraqi war while at the same time trying to keep them safe from terrorist themed attacks. I thought Vaughn did a fine job of playing with the balance between these two sometimes conflicting goals (political freedom and physical security) without sinking to the use of clichés.

The second story gives us some back story on Hundred's nemesis. This portion of the trade was not as strong as the prior story arc, but still did an excellent job of tying together Hundred's super-hero exploits with his subsequent political career.

Either the book spiked in quality, or I'm just finally coming around - but I really enjoyed this trade paperback. I hope the next volume continues in the same direction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tufnel1780 on February 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
After a disappointing volume 3 'Ex Machina' is back in top form with Volume 4 'The March to War'. The Iraq war was a subject that Vaughan would have to tackle eventually in this series and here he does it with a fine even-handed approach.

One of Mayor Hundred's staff resigns to participate in an anti-war demonstration and Hundred is left to figure out how to provide security for the city while not trampling on the rights of free speech of the protestors. The ending of this story leaves Hundred at his most disheartened about his ability to change the world through public service.

A second story that includes the 'Ex Machina' special flashes back to Hundred as he is campaigning for the Mayor's office. In an interview he is asked about the death penalty which prompts a flashback to a fight with a super villian who Hundred is locked in a battle to the death with. Both stories together make for the best trade so far for this series and a must read for fans of intellegent and sophisticated comics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pat Shand VINE VOICE on December 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
The volume includes the four part "March to War" story arc and a two-parter called "Life or Death." Overall, it's a not as gripping a read as the last few volumes, but it's still good throughout. Brian K. Vaughan is undoubtedly one of the best writers in comics today, and he takes big brave risks here, centering the first four issues in this volume on an almost strictly political matter that only slightly ties into Mitchell Hundred's life as the superhero the Great Machine. Vaughan has a Whedonesque ability to keep the plot insanely interesting without deviating from the character driven structure all of his stories have. What I wasn't as pleased with this time around was the art. Tony Harris is a wonderful artist and has provided some great, realistic work with this title, which is very appropriate given the subject matter. But in this volume, everything seems very stiff--there is no movement to the characters, and they're often posed in gestures that I could never see happening in a real conversation.

Guest artist Chris Sprouse fills in for Harris on the "Life or Death" two-parter, which is by and large a "Great Machine" story, framed only by a few pages of Mitchell Hundred's current life as the Mayor. The flashback, cleverly lead into by Hundred buckling under the question if some criminals deserve to die, reveals the mysterious Pherson, the arch-enemy of the Great Machine. He's creepy, working both as a realistic villain that is believable in the Ex Machina world and also as a comic book villain, both from his powers and his character design. I wish they had a bit more time to play with the dynamic between the two characters, but the two-parter did function as an introduction to Pherson, who, knowing Brian K.
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