Mitchell Hundred, when he began his mayoral career, weathered a schoolkid blowing up snow plows, a politically correct art scandal, and questioning the loyalty of old friends. Of course, his life is not going to get any easier, but at least he can pick some of his battles. After officiating over the umpteenth marriage as one of the apparently fun but often tiresome duties required as Mayor of New York, he decides to shake things up a bit by marrying a hero of 9/11, a firefighter, to his boyfriend. As his staff scrambles to deal with the potential fallout of such a ceremony, Hundred shows that there’s a reason he’s a politician and that the apparent spur of the moment decision does not mean he’s not prepared to manipulate the publicity and poise the political challenge very carefully. As he’s single and, as one staffer puts it, dresses suspiciously well, he’s not above manipulating a friend into a date in order to preempt rumors that he himself is gay (never mind whether those rumors might be true).

Of course, since this is Ex Machina we’re talking about, the gay marriage debacle is just one part of the story. More fragments of Hundred’s superhero past come back to haunt him as whatever that technology that gifted him with his powers now seems to be activating in an old CIA friend, and not for the side of the angels. Gruesome discoveries in subway tunnels show this no longer human foe to be no idle threat, but with no rhyme or reason to the incidents, no one can quite figure out what to expect next. This volume ends with more questions than answers, but the progression in both the characters and the complexity of issues tackled show this series is only getting better as it goes. Tony Harris’s art remains vivid with excellent expressions marking each character’s face, a fine match for Vaughan’s quick banter.

Ex Machina, vol. 2: Tag
By Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Tony Harris
ISBN: 9781401206260
DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2005

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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