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Ex Machina, Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days Paperback – February 1, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews
Book 1 of 10 in the Ex Machina Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set somewhere between The West Wing and an alternative future, this taleasks the question: What if the mayor of New York was a superhero? Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and Harris (Starman) answer with intelligence and dash. In classic superhero origin, Mitchell Hundred is just another civil engineer until an encounter with a glowing light under the Brooklyn Bridge gives him the power to talk to machines. Fast forward three years: after a famed stint as a superhero, Hundred has just been elected mayor of New York and must deal with not only the colorful cast of characters that make up his staff but also a host of crises: a PR disaster set off by an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum; a crippling blizzard; and, most worryingly, a serial killer who's bumping off the city's snow plow drivers. Vaughan cleverly adapts real news stories—New York mayoral politics, the Sensations art scandal—and plausibly fits them into a world where superheroes exist, but are forbidden by the NSA to talk about their powers, while adding surprising twists and turns. Harris's gritty, charismatic characters give the story further appeal. This vastly entertaining first collection should have readers eager to read future volumes. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"If millionaire playboys and nerdy highschoolers can be superheroes, why not the mayor of New York? ... Terrifically intriguing."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: WildStorm; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401206123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401206123
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Guy L. Gonzalez on December 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Brian K. Vaughan has crafted a parallel New York City that feels absolutely real and populated it with 3-dimensional human beings that go far beyond comic book stereotypes - a legitimate spiritual descendant of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Summarizing the plot would be selling it short, because there are multiple layers at work here - superheroing, politics, the human condition - and Vaughan's barely scratched the surface so far. If there was ever a comic book that could seamlessly transition to traditional fiction, this is it. Unfortunately, that would mean missing out on Tony Harris' eye-popping artwork.

For anyone that thinks comics are about men in tights and cartoonish "BIFF! POW!" visuals, Ex Machina will set them straight. As a native-New Yorker, I'm jealous that there's no Mitchell Hundred for me to vote for mayor. As a comic book fan, I'm glad to see a book like Ex Machina being published regularly, and to much-deserved critical acclaim.
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Pronounced mah-kin-ah, this little ditty I picked up only because I saw it had recently earned an Eisner Award, which in the world of comic books, is a very big deal. The story is about a former hero turned politician. Not the stuff of captivating reads, in my opinion. On top of that, the writer, Brian K. Vaughan, was someone I was previously unfamiliar with. But, the buzz was big, the accolades were huge, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The result was quite shocking.

I loved it. If you'd told me I would enjoy a book whose main character was the mayor of New York City, I'd have told you that you were nutso. It's simply the writing and the artistry. I honestly think Vaughan and his artist, Tony Harris, could put out a comic book about an agoraphobic farmer and it would still win awards.

Mitchell Hundred is a civil servant of NYC who happens across a strange device at the base of a bridge's, er, base. It explodes literally in his face, thus granting him the singular ability to converse with machinery of almost any magnitude, the utterly simplistic to the drastically complex. For instance, he can command a gun to jam, preventing its detonation. Eventually, he dreams of a rocket pack allowing him to fly. His older friend and role model, Kremlin, helps him build it. He becomes a hero, calling himself The Great Machine. However, after only a year, he gives up the hero business, deciding that he's causing more harm than good. Instead, he runs for mayor. And he wins.

The arc of The First Hundred Days deals with a portrait of Lincoln with the n-word written across it debuted in a museum funded by the tax payers, someone killing off snow plow drivers, as well as many flashbacks to Hundred's days as The Great Machine.
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Format: Paperback
Ex Machina is the post 9/11 story of Mitchell Hundred, who left his life as a masked super hero to make a difference in politics, becoming the mayor of NYC. This premise may sound boring, but it's definitely not. Mitchell has the ability to speak to machines and tell them what to do--aiding him in and out of office. We get glimpses of his former hero exploits and origins, but Mitchell's job as mayor gives him more intimate access to the dangers facing the city--making for some unique and intriguing storylines. I had several "wow" moments as I read, stopping to gawk at an image or contemplate a new idea.

Vaughan's writing is excellent--realistic, entertaining, character driven, thoughtful--and the art is also top notch. It is easy to see why this title won multiple Eisner awards. Its realism also brings some adult content with it that potential reader should be aware of. There are a few instances of blood and sexual content, but my main concern was language. There is a large amount of profanity (which may be an accurate depiction of how many people speak), but I found it excessive to the point of distracting from the story at times. Maybe if all the characters didn't speak that way it would make more sense to me. Also note that this volume only contains part of the story, so some plot threads are left to be resolved in later collections. This just left me wanting more, but if you're looking for a short read, you may want to look elsewhere. This book collects issues 1-5 of Ex Machina, and the total story is 50 issues long. I don't know if I'll read the entire series, but I will definitely read at least one more book.

Despite any flaws, the art and story are very compelling, providing a unique and current look at super heroes and current events. If you like comics and graphic novels, are comfortable with the mature content, and want to read one of the more interesting and relevant modern series, this one's a must!
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Format: Paperback
I'm a huge Brian K. Vaughan fan, I loved both Y: The Last Man and Runaways, but I was shocked at how little I enjoyed Ex Machina. As others have pointed out, the lead characters are surprisingly two dimensional and uninvolving, and, as I read on, I found the plot to be exactly the same. However, I don't think Vaughan is to blame, but rather think that the artwork kills any subtlety or wit in the dialogue.

Tony Harris's artwork is, without doubt, technically impressive, but unfortunately it's also completely unsubtle. Throwaway witticisms in Vaughan's script are given slapstick treatment by Harris. Off the cuff remarks are turned into exaggerated moments of human reaction. Every bit of the dialogue is delivered by the characters in the most extreme example of human emotion. Saying something slightly amusing? Put a big smile on their face. A bit more serious? Make them look like their at a funeral. It's as if Harris doesn't understand anything about tonality or nuance.

You can even see this for yourself with Amazon's "LookInside" feature on this very page; there isn't a single subtle facial expression and, believe me, as the characters start to interact, it only gets worse. Much worse. So bad, in fact, that I think it's the reason I felt so uninvolved in the characters and story, and ultimately gave up part way through volume two.

It's odd because Harris is clearly a very talented artist and, if you removed the speech bubbles, you could rightly marvel at his skill, but sadly a comic book artist needs more than just technical skills, he also needs storytelling skills.
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