Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Ex Machina, Vol. 9: Ring Out the Old

Ex Machina, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughan
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Feb 09, 2011

bookshelves: 2011-goal-list, cuy-co-pub-lib, finished
Read on January 22, 2011 , read count: 1

Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina vol. 9: Ring Out the Old (Wildstorm, 2010)

One of the blurbs on the cover of this book says, essentially (I don't have it to hand, sorry), “I can't believe this series is coming to an end.” I am totally down with that sentiment. Vaughan has shown repeatedly over the years that he can take the most ludicrous, sappy crap and turn it into absolute gold (witness Pride of Baghdad, which in the hands of hundreds of lesser authors would have been a sappy new-age mess). To date, earlier volumes in this series have comprised the only 9/11-based fiction I've been able to stomach. I am at this point willing to believe Brian K. Vaughn (whom, I should mention, I had no idea was from Cleveland) can do damn near anything. And he tested that hypothesis twice in this volume...and came up a winner both times.

First off, there's a mini-story arc where the powers that be have decided that Hundred needs a biographer. Hundred holds out for a comic version. Guess who we get to see a lot of in that arc. (Which is where I found out Vaughan is from Cleveland.) It's just as friggin' ludicrous as Stephen King writing himself into the Dark Tower books. But here... it works a lot better. Maybe because Vaughan's vision of New York cleaves so much closer to the original than King's Maine? I don't know, but it does. And then comes the main story, where we find out, basically, everything about everything. Why Hundred got his powers in the first place, what it's all supposed to mean, why an old nemesis seems to be back from the dead, the works. And it's so, so cheesy, and yet just as he did with some of the touchier subjects in Runaways and Y: The Last Man, he makes it all work like gangbusters. I have no idea how, but I've seen other authors try to do this sort of thing before and have it come off just as cheesy as it sounds (or would sound were I to spoil, you know, the entire series for you). You explain it, I can't. There's more than just raw talent at work here. An awesome series, highly recommended from first page to last... or at least the end of book 9, and I'll tell you about the final one as soon as I get my grubby little paws on it. ****

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