I feel a little bad for “Ex Machina.” After all, it’s Brian K. Vaughan’s one remaining regular series, post-“Y: The Last Man,” and it’s also Tony Harris’s return to a regular series. These days, though, it seems to have fallen off the cultural radar. When “Y: The Last Man” neared its conclusion, I remember people going fairly nuts over that upcoming moment and interest in the series having a resurgence. So why isn’t that happening with “Ex Machina” now that it has just six issues to go?
Reading “Ex Machina” #44, the one thing I’m fairly certain of is that it’s not for a lack of talent. Vaughan is laying everything on the line now, with previous events and characters starting to all line up to reveal what seems pretty self-evident in hindsight. The purpose of Mayor Hundred’s machine powers is revealed, and it’s a nasty piece of information for both Hundred and the readers. From the very first issue of “Ex Machina” we’ve been told that Hundred’s term as mayor would end badly, and now we’re starting to see just how badly things can truly go.
It’s also nice to see that Vaughan isn’t afraid to bring back and reuse characters. I just recently decided to splurge and convert my collections to the oversized, deluxe hardcovers, and part of the joy of doing so involved re-reading those first eleven issues. I’d forgotten that Suzanne is in those issues, and it feels like the book in some ways is coming full circle. “Ex Machina” from the beginning has been promised to run fifty issues in length, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that Vaughan’s had the basic steps from one moment to the next plotted out all this time.
I’m always impressed at how Harris makes photo-referenced art look lively and fluid. Maybe it’s because he sets up his own photo shoots for scenes that he needs and wants, but in an industry where “photo-referenced” is often a bad word because of the number of stiff and lifeless jobs out there, Harris is one of the exceptions. When one of the main characters is struck in the head, that range of motion as the head snaps backwards looks lively and fluid. It’s a creepy moment that Harris plays up perfectly, bringing Vaughan’s script just that extra edge of nastiness. That’s the kind of work I’ve come to expect from Harris in “Ex Machina” and he doesn’t disappoint.
So why isn’t there more hoopla over the impending end of “Ex Machina?” I’m still not sure. Maybe it’s because everyone’s in collected mode, maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places. What I do know, though, is that Vaughan and Harris are charging full-speed ahead towards the finale, and it looks to be a thrill ride from here to the finish. It’s a good time to be an “Ex Machina” fan.