Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Ex Machina v5 Smoke Smoke

In this 5th volume of Brian K. Vaughn's and Tony Harris' Ex Machina series, Mayor Mitchell Hundred has recently committed a political blunder; he admitted to having smoked pot in the past.  This admission sparks a long series of debates and creates a lot of unnecessary political drama that distracts Hundred from issues that are actually important. 

The first pressing issue is that someone has been posing as a New York City firefighter in full on official fire fighting gear to do some serious assault and robbery hits on New York citizens.  Adding even further distraction is the fact that a women committed a rather flamboyant act of suicide on the steps of City Hall by lighting herself on fire.

Amidst all the confusion and chaos, Hundred takes on a new intern, January Jones, who is the sister to his recently deceased intern Journal Jones.  From the little clues that this story arc provides, it looks like she has it in for Mayor Hundred and is looking to cause some damage to his political career.

As usual, mixed in with all the political drama, Vaughn interweaves some of Hundred's earlier adventures/misadventures as The Great Machine.

I've started to notice a trend with the Ex Machina series.  Each story arc will present a set of political dilemmas that Hundred has to face, combined with some related issue that has to do with the safety and security of New York citizens.  Though I feel like it makes for content that is slightly predictable, so far, the stories have been good enough that I don't mind the overall predictability of the Ex Machina formula.  Hopefully this will hold true for the second half of the series.

The political issues tackled in Smoke Smoke are kinda silly, but I guess if you are gonna do a story about a politician, you gotta do something about drugs.  The things I found most interesting in this story arc were January Jones' introduction and the little hints as to what Hundred's old buddy, Kremlin is up to behind the scenes.  I get the sense that these two will be key players in what the series is building up to, so I'm looking forward to not only seeing if my predictions are right, but also just what those two are all about.

I've praised both the writing and art of the Ex Machina comics before, and the writing and art in Smoke Smoke is par for the course...that is to say, exceptionally good.  Added to this collection is a standalone story titled, err...Standalone about Rick Bradbury, Hundred's bodyguard.  It is essentially his "origin" story, but it is pretty fun, and provides some good insight into the character. 

Now that I've reached the halfway point I feel like I'm fully invested in the series.  At this point I feel like I wanna read through the remaining trades in fairly rapid succession so that I can find out where everything is going.  Even though I thought Smoke Smoke was one of the less entertaining volumes so far, big things to come are hinted at and I wanna see what is up.  I own all but the final volume, so more Ex Machina is in my near future.

Grade: B-

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