Ex Machina, Vol. 6: Power Down – A Graphic Novel Review

Ex Machina is one of those titles that should never work in the comic book medium. Former and short-lived superhero abandons his super-persona to become mayor of New York. And that happens before the start of the series. Let’s be honest, if anyone but writer Vaughan and Harris were involved, this series simply wouldn’t have worked.

Ex Machina: Power Down is a return to greatness for the creative duo. The storyline deals with Mayor Hundred struggling against a city-wide power outage just as a mysterious visitor takes his mother hostage in order to deliver Hundred an important message. That message has fascinated me and worked expertly as a bit of foreshadowing. In addition, as always, we are given flashbacks to Hundred’s involvement with 9/11 as well as some back-story during his training days.

The Ex Machina series started with a bang, utterly captivating me with every panel. However, the last storyline in particular focused a little too much on Hundred’s mayoral duties and not quite enough on the more fantastic elements of the series. Power Down is back to what makes Ex Machina work best–an equal blend of the realistic world of politics and the surreal world of super heroics.

Furthermore, let’s not forget about the art! Harris’ artwork is extraordinary and this series simply wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is without him. He gets better with every issue he draws, and he was excellent to begin with! Moreover, Mettler, the often-ignored colorist, is truly responsible for giving this book in particular much of its flavor. The colors demand your attention in such an unassuming yet powerful manner; it’s astounding.

Finally, Power Down also offers a “special features” section in the back of the book with some background information given by both Vaughan and Harris. Very fun stuff if you’re into the production aspect of the book.

Ex Machina is a must-read series for all lovers of literature.

Y: The Last Man: Motherland – A Graphic Novel Review

In case you’re not familiar with Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, the premise is that a catastrophic plague has wiped every man on the planet but one, Yorick Brown. For an inexplicable reason, Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand, were spared. Now Yorick desperately wants to traverse a planet in chaos as women work to establish order once more so that he can reunite with his girlfriend. He travels with Agent 355, who has been charged with protecting Yorick, and the scientist Allison Mann, who tirelessly works to determine what made Yorick and Ampersand different from anything else with the Y chromosome.

Motherland is the ninth volume in this graphic novel series. When Y first started, it was unlike anything else I’d ever read in comic books. Action-packed with a real sense of plot and purpose, Vaughan broke barriers with every installment. However, on this volume, I feel things are starting to drag out a bit. Still an enjoyable read, but it’s definitely treading water compared to earlier volumes.

But, be that as it may, I have every faith in the world that Vaughan will regain steam as he comes to the conclusion of this series. It was understood from the get go that this was a finite title, and I really think it will be a joy to read from start to finish once it’s concluded.

For those of you unfamiliar with Brian K. Vaughan, he is a master storyteller in the world of comic books, but he’s also the guy they brought in to get the television show LOST back on track when it waned a bit last season. Did you notice a discernable improvement in LOST towards the end of last season? You can thank BKV for that.

Please realize that Y is not your mainstream comic book such as Superman or Batman. It is a comic book, yes, but it is more like the HBO of the comic book world. There is adult language at times and adult themes. However, if you’ve ever been interested in seeing sequential art at its best, give Y a try.