Ex Machina (comics)

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Ex Machina

Cover art for Ex Machina Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days
Art by Tony Harris
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics/Wildstorm
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Superhero, political drama
Publication date August 2004 to August 2010
Number of issues 50 (plus 4 specials)
Main character(s) Mitchell Hundred
Rick Bradbury
Ivan "Kremlin" Tereshkov
Dave Wylie
Creative team
Writer(s) Brian K. Vaughan
(Garth Ennis for 2 pages in issue #40)
Penciller(s) Tony Harris
(Chris Sprouse (Ex Machina Special #1-2)) John Paul Leon (Ex Machina Special #3-4,
Jim Lee for 2 pages in issue #40)
Inker(s) Tom Feister (#1-26)
Jim Clark (#27-46)
Tony Harris(#47-50)
Karl Story (Ex Machina Special #1-2)
Colorist(s) JD Mettler
Collected editions
The First Hundred Days ISBN 1-4012-0612-3
Tag ISBN 1401206263
Fact V, Fiction ISBN 1401209882
March to War ISBN 1401209971
Smoke Smoke ISBN 1401213227
Power Down ISBN 1401214983
Ex Cathedra ISBN 1401218598
Dirty Tricks ISBN 1401225195
Ring out the Old ISBN 1401226949
Term Limits ISBN 1401228364

Ex Machina is an American creator-owned comic book series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris, and published by DC Comics under the Wildstorm imprint.

The series details the life of Mitchell Hundred (also known as The Great Machine), the world's first and only superhero, who, in the wake of his actions on 9/11, is elected Mayor of New York City. The story is set during Hundred's term in office, and interwoven with flashbacks to his past as the Great Machine. Through this, the series explores both the political situations Hundred finds himself in, and the mysteries surrounding his superpowers.

Publication history[edit]

Writer Brian K. Vaughan signing copies of the book at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

Ex Machina launched in 2004 as part of DC Comics' Wildstorm imprint. The series ended in August 2010 with issue fifty.

The title of the comic comes from the Latin phrase 'deus ex machina', and is also a reference to Hundred's superhero persona, the Great Machine, in that he is now an 'ex-Machine'. In the first issue, Mitchell explains that he chose the name "Great Machine" based on a quote about society by Thomas Jefferson. Accordingly, one of the series' recurring themes is the tendency of citizens to become overly reliant on their government and constantly expect it to save them.

Vaughan has said that the comic was "born out of my anger with what passes for our current political leadership (on both sides of the aisle)".[1]

Vaughan has admitted seeing the series as a means to explore real-world contemporary politics as well, but states that discussing themes overtly is not something he prefers.[2]

Characters[edit]

  • Mitchell Hundred: Before becoming a superhero and mayor, Hundred was a civil engineer. His colleagues say that he knows more about the Brooklyn Bridge than anyone else alive. He was raised by a highly political single mother; this, and his being a keen reader of DC Comics, inspired his life choices. There is an "is he or isn't he" aspect to his sexuality; on several occasions, characters ask him directly if he is gay, and Hundred does not directly reply in the affirmative or the negative. As the result of an explosion from an extradimensional device at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, Hundred is permanently scarred (he has markings on the left side of his face and body reminiscent of a circuit board or electrodes); and develops the ability to communicate with and command mechanical devices. This includes anything from guns, to cellphones, to cars (but not a device as simple as a bow-and-arrow) — however, they will not necessarily obey him, and may even lie to him. As the Great Machine, Mitchell Hundred utilized many devices he designed after his accident. He wears a rocket backpack that allows him to fly, and uses ray guns and taser gloves as weapons. He has entrusted Kremlin and Rick Bradbury with possession of "jammers" which disrupt his powers. He built them based on dreams (along with some of his crime-fighting weapons), and expects them to be used as a contingency measure in case he ever goes mad with power. Hundred is visually based on a real-life friend of Tony Harris.[3]
  • Rick Bradbury: Mitchell's best friend, retired Marine (he claims to have fought in "one and a half wars"); and head of security. As a lieutenant on the Harbor Patrol he witnesses the incident that gives Mitchell his amazing abilities and goes on to assist his career as a crime fighter and politician.
  • Ivan "Kremlin" Tereshkov: A mechanic on Coney Island and family friend. He acts as mentor for Mitchell, inspiring him to don the Great Machine costume. The Russian immigrant is not pleased that Mitchell gave up his superhero career to pursue a profession he does not think highly of. Though disillusioned by the Soviet Union, he still believes in the dream of communism. Kremlin believes that it was Mitchell's cosmic purpose to become the Great Machine, and he is covertly working to ensure that Hundred is not re-elected.
  • Commissioner Angotti: As police commissioner of New York City, Amy Angotti often finds herself dealing with bizarre cases linked to Mitchell Hundred and his powers.
  • Dave Wylie: Mitchell Hundred's deputy mayor and good friend is a lowly councilman who got talked into running with that "nut." Thinking he was only going to help the Republican party spoil the democratic candidate he was treated to a surprise landslide victory and now finds himself the recipient of complaints by many critics of the administration.
  • Journal Moore: A former City Hall intern, she was promoted to "Special Advisor on Youth Affairs" by Hundred and is now seen frequently assisting him in many of his duties. She is hospitalized after a ricin gas attack during an anti-war demonstration and succumbs to her injuries.
  • Candice Watts: Mayor Hundred's fourth Chief of Staff after the former three resigned after only two weeks of Hundred in office.
  • Jack Pherson: Mitchell Hundred's nemesis as the Great Machine, first appears in the Ex Machina Special. Pherson is a sound technician who tries to figure out the secret of the Great Machine's power so that he can make money from it. He captures a sound bite of Hundred in action, and studies it carefully to determine the source of the power of the Great Machine's "voice." After Pherson hears his pet African Grey parrot repeat the recorded phrase (duplicating frequency and timbre in a manner Pherson's audio gear cannot) he suddenly (and violently) gains the ability to hear and talk to animals. He learns a means for disrupting Hundred's powers and utilizes it in pursuit of his cause of extremist animal rights. He goes on to draw out Hundred; however, Hundred turns his powers against him, resulting in his death by mauling by a pack of dogs, followed by an explosion which brings part of a building down on him. Despite this, Kremlin asserts that Pherson is still alive. Pherson's parrot, which has been seen in the present time of the book, also appears to have both an increased intellect and some of the same powers.
  • Trip: An employee of the governor of New York. At his employer's behest, he tries to blackmail Hundred into subordinating himself to the governor; knowing that the blackmail was false, Hundred confiscates it and threatens to stop Trip's pacemaker if he ever tries something similar again.
  • Jackson Georges: An NSA cryptologist who works with Hundred to try and better understand his powers. Prolonged exposure to the fragment that gave Hundred his power, as well as the shock of the September 11 attacks, makes Georges lose his mind.
  • Connie Georges: Jackson's wife. Driven insane by exposure to the fragment, she stabs herself with it and gains Hundred-esque powers. She goes on a killing/mutilating spree in the subway before Hundred kills her in Gracie Mansion.
  • Leto: Owns the comic book store that Hundred went to as a kid. After seeing Hundred's success, he decides that he could be a superhero too. He dons insectoid-like full body armor and a government surplus jetpack and begins prowling the streets as "Automaton", leading people to speculate that he is a robot built by Hundred. He is shot by Kremlin after violently reacting to Bradbury and Kremlin's discovery of his secret; over a year later, he is seen to have become homeless.
  • January Moore: Journal Moore's sister. After her sister's death, she becomes an intern for Hundred's office at the invitation of Wylie. Along with Kremlin, January is actively working to subvert Hundred's administration and ensure that his re-election will fail.
  • Trouble (Monica): A tour guide who becomes a masked adventurer after interacting with Great Machine, and becoming infatuated with him. Her actions prove increasingly troublesome to Mitchell and his administration.

Fictional timeline[edit]

[volume & issue needed]

  • 1968 - Mitchell Hundred is born to Thomas and Martha Hundred.
  • December 15, 1969 - Martha Hundred kills Thomas Hundred in self-defense. (#16)
  • October 18, 1999 - Mitchell Hundred, now a civil engineer, is caught in an explosion from an unknown device at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. He discovers that he is able to control and communicate with machinery in the hospital. (#1, #25)
  • October 31, 1999 - Mitchell Hundred is robbed in a convenience store right after being released from the hospital. He begins to experiment with the use of his powers. (Special #3)

2000[edit]

  • February 4, 2000 - Ivan "Kremlin" Tereshkov talks Mitchell Hundred into becoming the world's first superhero. (#1)
  • April 10, 2000 - Mitchell Hundred starts his superhero life, calling himself "The Great Machine." (#1)
  • April 17, 2000 - The Great Machine has his first fight; a bystander accidentally gains the ability to communicate with plant life. (Special #4)
  • October 13, 2000 - The Great Machine saves a fireman. (#4)
  • December 24, 2000 - The Great Machine tries to deliver toys to an orphanage on Christmas Eve but crashes, destroying his jetpack. (#30)

2001[edit]

  • March 4, 2001 - Jack Pherson gains the ability to control and communicate with animals. (Special #1)
  • March 10, 2001 - The Great Machine uses his homemade ray gun in a fight; instead of producing a blast of energy, the ray gun opens an inter-dimensional portal (terrifying the Great Machine's opponent into surrendering). (#46)
  • March 10, 2001 - Jack Pherson meets the Great Machine and learns he is Mitchell Hundred. (Special #1)
  • March 27, 2001 - Jack Pherson and the Great Machine fight each other in a rooftop apiary. (#41)
  • May 8, 2001 - Jack Pherson unleashes a multi-pronged attack against The Great Machine. Pherson and Hundred meet for the last time as Pherson is apparently killed when an exploding building collapses on him. (Special #2)
  • May 19, 2001 - Monica first sees the Great Machine as he chases after a criminal in a jetpack. (#36)
  • June 2, 2001 - Monica chases after the Great Machine as he is being chased by the NYPD. (#37)
  • June 30, 2001 - Mitchell Hundred talks to Dave Wylie about retiring The Great Machine and running for mayor. (#1)
  • July 4, 2001 - Mitchell Hundred unmasks in Central Park and announces his candidacy for mayor. (#38)
  • July 24, 2001 - Mitchell Hundred meets Jackson Georges, an NSA cryptologist, for the first time. (#6)
  • August 11, 2001 - Mitchell Hundred tells Jackson Georges that he gave up his helmet and jetpack to the NSA. (#7)
  • September 11, 2001 - The Great Machine stops United Flight 175 before it crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center. (#7, #11, #26, #29, #39)
  • November 6, 2001 - Mitchell Hundred is elected Mayor of New York City. Hundred spends the day in a sensory deprivation tank overseen by government officials to ensure he does not use his powers to fix the election. (#44)

2002[edit]

  • January 9, 2002 - Mitchell Hundred is inaugurated as Mayor of New York City. (#1)
  • March 23, 2002 - Jackson Georges and his wife Connie develop psychosis due to exposure to the fragment of circuit board that gave Mitchell Hundred his powers as well as increasing emotional stress in their marital life. Connie stabs herself with the fragment and cuts her left arm off, then kills Jackson, their dog and their daughter Emily. She gains Hundred-esque powers. Over the next several days, Connie Georges moves to the Manhattan sewers, wearing a hazard protection suit and spray-painting glyphs that resemble the one found on the fragment. (#10)
  • March 26, 2002 - A commuter views several of the glyphs and goes into seizures before killing herself. (#7)
  • March 28, 2002 - During an assassination attempt, Mitchell Hundred discovers that a bow-and-arrow is too simple for him to command. Later that night, Connie Georges infiltrates Gracie Mansion and confronts Mitchell Hundred. She makes several coded references to string theory and Edward Witten, and implies that Hundred is a Christ-figure, calling him 'carpenter' and saying he should 'spread the gospel' before he is forced to kill her in self-defense. (#10)
  • March 30, 2002 - Mitchell Hundred presides over a gay marriage ceremony. (#10)
  • October 9, 2002 - Leto starts his superhero career in full body armor, calling himself "Automaton". (#12)
  • October 10, 2002 - Kremlin attacks Leto and destroys his armor. (#14)
  • November 7, 2002 - Martha Hundred tells her son the truth about his father's death; he had previously been told that his father died in a cave-in. (#15-16)

2003[edit]

  • February 15, 2003 - Journal Moore is hospitalized after a ricin gas attack during an anti-war demonstration. (#17)
  • February 18, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred (disguised) & Commissioner Angotti apprehend Sammir Hallouda, the man responsible for the attacks. Journal Moore dies as a result of the ricin attack. (#20)
  • March 4, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred gives an open Q&A on New York Public Radio where he is ambushed by the moderator. (Special #1-2)
  • July 15, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred meets January Moore for the first time. (#21)
  • August 14, 2003 - Augustyn Zeller, a traveler from an alternate timeline, accidentally causes the Northeast Blackout of 2003; for the duration of the blackout, Mitchell Hundred is unable to use his powers. (#26)
  • August 15, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred confronts Zeller, who manages to give him a cryptic warning before being forcibly returned to his own timeline. (#28-29)
  • October 28, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred resolves the issue of the KKK wanting to hold a rally in Central Park. (Special #3)
  • December 9, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred is invited to meet Pope John Paul II in Vatican City. (#30)
  • December 13, 2003 - Hundred and Bradbury fly to Italy. (#31)
  • December 15, 2003 - Mitchell Hundred has a private audience with Pope John Paul II, during which foreign agents attempt to mind-control him into murdering the pope. The pope helps Mitchell have an epiphany with "God", helping him overcome his conditioning. After the ordeal, Mitchell tells the pope that "God" told him he will be the President of the United States. (#32-33)

2004[edit]

  • July 29, 2004 - Mitchell Hundred is asked to give the keynote address at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Trouble (Monica) BASE jumps off of the remaining World Trade Center tower. (#36)
  • July 30, 2004 - Trouble defaces the Empire State Building with graffiti. (#37)
  • August 30, 2004 - Trouble breaks into City Hall to meet Mitchell Hundred. (#38-39)
  • October 6, 2004 - Mitchell Hundred interviews Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris about writing and drawing his biography. He decides on Garth Ennis and Jim Lee instead. (#40)
  • December 29, 2004 - Mitchell Hundred announces that he will not be running for re-election as Mayor of New York. (#41)
  • December 30, 2004 - As a result of a rash of animal attacks, Mitchell Hundred becomes concerned that Jack Pherson is back. He puts on a mask and enters the sewers to hunt for Pherson. In the sewers, Hundred encounters an automaton. The automaton criticizes him for misusing his powers, which it states were intended to prepare the Earth for invasion. Meanwhile, journalist Suzanne Padilla is exposed to a "white box" built by Hundred; she gains the ability to influence and control human minds and memories, as well as enhanced strength, speed, and the ability to fly. (#42-44)

2005[edit]

  • April 11, 2005 - Suzanne Padilla attacks Mitchell Hundred and dumps him in the East River. She then steals the dimensional portal-opening device from Martha Hundred and kills her in the process. (#46-47)
  • April 12, 2005 - Suzanne activates the portal-opening device where a hell-like dimension is seen & attempts to throw January into the portal to make sure the forces of hell can come safely. Hundred dons the Great Machine costume for the last time to battle Suzanne, revealing that the supposed "jammer" for his powers never really worked. He pushes her through the inter-dimensional portal before it closes, killing her. Before the police arrive, he and Bradbury switch places. Bradbury claims that he wanted to protect the mayor, and takes the fall for all his actions. (#49-50)

2006[edit]

  • September 1, 2006 - Now the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Hundred reveals his final act as Mayor: the rebuilding of the Twin Towers to show the world New York is not afraid and ready to come back. (#50)

2007[edit]

  • March 4, 2007 - Mitchell has a horrifying vision revealing that there are multiple versions of him having conquered several realities & and will never stop trying ways to invade his, as they are all "together". Later, having spent a year in prison and with his family abandoning him, a drunken and disheveled Bradbury comes to Hundred, revealing that he's always been in love with him. When a stunned Hundred pushes him away, noting that his friend is drunk, a furious Bradbury punches him and leaves him for good. (#50)

2008[edit]

  • January 17, 2008 - Kremlin summons Hundred to his home, threatening to release Suzanne's files indicating Hundred used his powers to fix the mayoral election, determined to keep Mitchell a hero to New York. Mitchell refuses, saying he can do more to help the world as President. Kremlin initially threatens to shoot Mitchell, but then turns his gun on himself. Instead of trying to stop him, Mitchell uses his powers to make the gun go off, killing Kremlin (whether this was accidentally or not is never revealed, it is unknown if Mitchell's powers went off accidentally or if he deliberately chose to murder Kremlin). (#50)

Post-2008[edit]

  • Hundred recounts his story "... my four years in office, from the beginning of 2002 through godforsaken 2005." He is shown sitting in an unknown location, looking dejected. It is revealed on the final issue that he was actually talking to the jetpack he used to wear during his time as The Great Machine. On the final pages, we learn that Hundred is in Number One Observatory Circle and is now Vice President of the United States under President John McCain. As he looks at a picture of his former friends, he pronounces the last words of the series: "Fade to black". (#1, #50)

Collected editions[edit]

Ex Machina has been collected in the following trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected ISBN
Ex Machina Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days Ex Machina #1-5 ISBN 1-4012-0612-3
Ex Machina Vol. 2: Tag Ex Machina #6-10 ISBN 1-4012-0626-3
Ex Machina Vol. 3: Fact V. Fiction Ex Machina #11-16 ISBN 1-4012-0988-2
Ex Machina Vol. 4: March to War Ex Machina #17-20 and Ex Machina Special #1-2 ISBN 1-4012-0997-1
Ex Machina Vol. 5: Smoke Smoke Ex Machina #21-25 ISBN 1-4012-1322-7
Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down Ex Machina #26-29 and Inside the Machine Special ISBN 1-4012-1498-3
Ex Machina Vol. 7: Ex Cathedra Ex Machina #30-34 ISBN 1-4012-1859-8
Ex Machina Vol. 8: Dirty Tricks Ex Machina #35-39 and Ex Machina Special #3 ISBN 1-4012-2519-5
Ex Machina vol. 9: Ring Out the Old Ex Machina #40-44 and Ex Machina Special #4 ISBN 1-4012-2694-9
Ex Machina Vol. 10: Term Limits Ex Machina #45-50 ISBN 1-4012-2836-4

In addition, the series is being released in deluxe hardcovers, the first of which was released on July 15, 2008.[4]

Title Material collected ISBN
Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book One Ex Machina #1-11 ISBN 1-4012-1814-8
Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book Two Ex Machina #12-20 and Ex Machina Special #1-2 ISBN 1-4012-2677-9
Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book Three Ex Machina #21-29, Ex Machina Special #3 and Inside the Machine Special ISBN 1-4012-2800-3
Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book Four Ex Machina #30-40 ISBN 1-4012-2845-3
Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition Book Five Ex Machina #41-50 and Ex Machina Special #4 ISBN 1-4012-2999-9

Awards[edit]

Ex Machina won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best New Series.

Film[edit]

On 14 July 2005, New Line Cinema announced that they picked up the rights to make a film adaptation.[5]

On 17 August 2012, Tony Harris stated that the rights to the film adaptation had been reacquired by himself and Brian K. Vaughan. [6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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