Sunday, May 22, 2005

EX MACHINA #11

Fortune favors the bold, but randomness certainly favors Ex Machina this month.

For better or for worse, this felt like a filler issue. Mostly for worse and that, for this title, is saying a lot. Gone is the tightness and brisk pace, nowhere is the complicated network of plot threads, and the Mayor Hundred who shows up has a moment of... extreme emotional diarrhea, which on the one hand is completely understandable considering the context, but on the other hand seemed too histrionic for who Brian Vaughan has established Hundred to be, too rehearsed and too wordy. Mitchell Hundred has won countless verbal battles, even on close-cutting issues, and to see him lose it in front of a fortune teller? I know Vaughan prefers the didn't-see-it-coming approach, but... *shrugs* Not to my taste.

Part of my dislike of the issue is that not only does it feel divorced from all that has come before it, but that it also feels separated from Vaughan's sense of Mitchell Hundred's governance. Is fortune telling illegal? Yes, it is -- by the very statute referenced (and dollars to knishes that Vaughan cut out this article and saved it for reference). But it's such a non-issue that building a story around it feels especially pointless. And I say this as someone who twice a workday passes a woman parked on the sidewalk in a lawn chair with a crystal ball on a TV tray while her assistant hands out flyers.

Quality-of-life law enforcement, a part of the Broken Windows policy of the Rudolf Giuliani administration, annoyed everyone until it started working. But there was a purpose to it that everyone could see -- getting rid of squeegee guys, nailing drivers for triple-parking, rousting the homeless out of the subway, curtailing jaywalking (okay, so that failed miserably) and fining folks for drinking booze in public all had an effect because they were all actually things we knew shouldn't be going on anyway. Fortune telling is not in the same class. Persecuting it is too rinky-dink to pass the believability test and Vaughan's (Hundred's) logic fails to convince me -- as it should fail to convince anyone, even those who have never been to New York. It may have been acceptable story-making as far as getting Hundred to a place where he could angst, but it was poor governing and that is a fatal flaw in this title because Vaughan has put so much effort and interest into getting it right.

Tony Harris's art is ever lovely, though.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Rhyo said...

This is still one of the better-written titles on the market, even when it has it's "huh?" moments, as did this issue. For me, those moments that worked best were the scenes showing Hundred's complicated personality. I like this guy, but he can be a first-class jerk.

What didn't work were the too-convenient flashback to the falling woman and then the fortune-teller bringing it up again and the emotional melt-down Hundred has. He's been established as a very reserved, private person with a quirky sense of humor/honor and for him to bare all to this woman he's just met, whom he doesn't trust, seemed... unlikely.

I guess, if I had to fan wank it, Hundred's emotional reserve means there are so many issues he's never discussed with anyone and the fortune teller pushed all the buttons at the right (wrong?) time for him.

And what went on with Padilla after the close of the last issue? We never got to hear his answer or see what happened next. Grrr. Suspense.

Mon May 23, 09:42:00 AM EDT  

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