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Ex Machina, Vol. 5: Smoke, Smoke

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Set in the modern-day real world, Ex Machina tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing superhero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Recommended for mature readers. Collects Ex Machina issue #21-25 Set in the modern-day real world, Ex Machina tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing superhero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Recommended for mature readers. Collects Ex Machina issue #21-25


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Set in the modern-day real world, Ex Machina tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing superhero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Recommended for mature readers. Collects Ex Machina issue #21-25 Set in the modern-day real world, Ex Machina tells the story of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who becomes America's first living, breathing superhero after a strange accident gives him amazing powers. Recommended for mature readers. Collects Ex Machina issue #21-25

30 review for Ex Machina, Vol. 5: Smoke, Smoke

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donovan

    This series is killing it. Marijuana, terrorism, psychopathy, gay marriage, assassination, capital punishment. It's comic book violent while tackling serious issues. And wonderfully illustrated. A fantastic series. This series is killing it. Marijuana, terrorism, psychopathy, gay marriage, assassination, capital punishment. It's comic book violent while tackling serious issues. And wonderfully illustrated. A fantastic series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Punk

    Graphic Novel. Mayor Hundred takes on marijuana. At this rate we'll be having a very special episode about abortion next. I just don't feel like Vaughan's saying anything with these hot button topics of his, though he did make a few nods to past events in the series, so there was a hint of continuity. Also some intrigue as he sets things up for the next big conflict. Still, Vaughan seems to be having trouble striking a balance between stories about being a mayor and stories about being a superhe Graphic Novel. Mayor Hundred takes on marijuana. At this rate we'll be having a very special episode about abortion next. I just don't feel like Vaughan's saying anything with these hot button topics of his, though he did make a few nods to past events in the series, so there was a hint of continuity. Also some intrigue as he sets things up for the next big conflict. Still, Vaughan seems to be having trouble striking a balance between stories about being a mayor and stories about being a superhero, and he's really falling short in the areas they intersect. The things I loved about the first trade -- the consequences involved with being a superhero -- have mostly dribbled away. There are still consequences, but they're trivial to the story. They don't serve to advance anything but Hundred's manpain. This series is really suffering for having no cohesive mytharc. Bring back the mysterious chip-thingy, Vaughan! You got some splainin' to do. Three stars. I'll keep reading, but the things that made this title special are slipping away, and we're left with a mayor with superpowers and no attempt to explain them. This trade was short on awesome women, too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    All the chickens... All the subplots are finally coming to a head. The weird one about some dirty secret, the Russian frenemy who wants Hundred to fly again, even the "what will he do after mayor?" will-he-or-won't-he silliness. And what happened to that ranting dude from an alternate timeline? Doesn't matter. Good ending. Not great, but good. Like we went through something together, got a little dirty, maybe learned more than we wanted to about each other, and won't be able to look them in the ey All the chickens... All the subplots are finally coming to a head. The weird one about some dirty secret, the Russian frenemy who wants Hundred to fly again, even the "what will he do after mayor?" will-he-or-won't-he silliness. And what happened to that ranting dude from an alternate timeline? Doesn't matter. Good ending. Not great, but good. Like we went through something together, got a little dirty, maybe learned more than we wanted to about each other, and won't be able to look them in the eye squarely any more. Like it said, good. There's a like somewhere in this last collection about superheroes and primary colours, and that the most respectable ones are dressed that way - that the Hulk wore purple and green. And then I notice this cover and it clicks into place: Vaughan didn't want to write about a "good" guy, a superficial Boy Scout. Something about this reminds me of the anti-hero hero worship we got out of Preacher. A stand up guy who doesn't deserve to stand tall, exactly, but who we need to count among us because they seem a little more like us, flawed and puzzling hairless apes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Eh, okay collection, this one: faux firefighter breaking into homes, legalization of marijuana stuff, a standalone on the deputy mayor… okay.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Griffin Youngstrum

    I love this series so much. It continues to impress me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chad Jordahl

    I continue to like this title much more than I originally expected to. For a book with super-powered characters, it's very real, down-to-earth. The characters react believably to generally plausible situations. Smart dialog. The realistic art fits very well and is quite well done. (Now that I think of it, I could say the same for Saga, BKV's current ongoing series. Although it's full-on Sci-Fi with all the crazy characters and settings that you could imagine, emotionally it's deeply real.) I continue to like this title much more than I originally expected to. For a book with super-powered characters, it's very real, down-to-earth. The characters react believably to generally plausible situations. Smart dialog. The realistic art fits very well and is quite well done. (Now that I think of it, I could say the same for Saga, BKV's current ongoing series. Although it's full-on Sci-Fi with all the crazy characters and settings that you could imagine, emotionally it's deeply real.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Williams

    Grown man topics is something you gotta deal with, No matter how many super powers you love it ain’t gonna equal up to this real shit.... Let me just start by saying this is the best “Graphic Novel” I have ever read. I wouldn’t even call this a comic. I know that there is a difference between a comic and a graphic novel but I’ve also seen the terms use interchangeably but this piece of work is too great to be called anything else. I read “Y The Last Man” so I was a fan of Brian K Vaughn (Although Grown man topics is something you gotta deal with, No matter how many super powers you love it ain’t gonna equal up to this real shit.... Let me just start by saying this is the best “Graphic Novel” I have ever read. I wouldn’t even call this a comic. I know that there is a difference between a comic and a graphic novel but I’ve also seen the terms use interchangeably but this piece of work is too great to be called anything else. I read “Y The Last Man” so I was a fan of Brian K Vaughn (Although Under The Dome is terrible). Ex Machina exceeded my expectations. I love reading about super powers and the fight between good and evil and all that good shit but I also love seeing real issues discussed. Ex Machina does this perfectly. The parallel NYC was amazing and Mitchell Hundred is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen. Vol 5 was a little crazy with a criminal dressing up as a fireman and using the gas mask for something I didn’t know was possible. It also discusses how marijuana is criminalized. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just say that I highly recommend Ex Machina FYI: I’ll leave a review for all ten volumes but only change the last paragraph because the first three paragraphs were so powerful that they are relevant to all ten volumes.. LOL

  8. 5 out of 5

    Licha

    Vol. 5 of 10 This one was all about weed, smoking it and making it legal. Recap to remind me what this was about. ****Possible spoilers ahead****: --Mayor Hundred is considering legalizing smoking weed. --A mother of a criminal The Great Machine once helped put in jail, self-immolates on the steps of city hall. --Journal's sister, January, joins the team but seems to have ulterior motives. --There's an FDNY impostor going around the city knocking on people's doors and killing them when they open the d Vol. 5 of 10 This one was all about weed, smoking it and making it legal. Recap to remind me what this was about. ****Possible spoilers ahead****: --Mayor Hundred is considering legalizing smoking weed. --A mother of a criminal The Great Machine once helped put in jail, self-immolates on the steps of city hall. --Journal's sister, January, joins the team but seems to have ulterior motives. --There's an FDNY impostor going around the city knocking on people's doors and killing them when they open the door. --Something is going haywire in Mitch's head and he's starts getting painfu headaches. --A little glimpse of Bradbury's story but not much. A bit of nudity going on in this one. What hot isue will they tackle next volume? That's what this series has been so far and how I'm afraid it will continue.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina: Smoke, Smoke (DC Comics, 2007) Vaughan continues to impress with everything he puts out. The most recent Ex Machina collection takes on the thorny (well, where legislators are concerned) topic of drug legalization. A new character pops up: January Moore, the departed Journal's sister, who Hundred appoints to step into Journal's shoes. As usual, there's a relatively dismissable mystery arc, but they're starting to tie in much better with the overarching themes found i Brian K. Vaughan, Ex Machina: Smoke, Smoke (DC Comics, 2007) Vaughan continues to impress with everything he puts out. The most recent Ex Machina collection takes on the thorny (well, where legislators are concerned) topic of drug legalization. A new character pops up: January Moore, the departed Journal's sister, who Hundred appoints to step into Journal's shoes. As usual, there's a relatively dismissable mystery arc, but they're starting to tie in much better with the overarching themes found in each book. I wasn't entirely sure about this series to start, but it's getting better with each release. ****

  10. 4 out of 5

    RB

    Mayor Hundred tokes up, a colleague is working against him, and a man posing as a firefighter is slaughtering people and in all this is the theme, this go round, and that is drug legalization, in particular, marijuana - yes I am lucky to be a Canadian right now, for even doing drugs as light as weed when illegal still makes people feel like criminals when they are not and that, and many other points are brought up in the pages of Brian k. Vaughan's reliably consistent series "Ex Machina" and the Mayor Hundred tokes up, a colleague is working against him, and a man posing as a firefighter is slaughtering people and in all this is the theme, this go round, and that is drug legalization, in particular, marijuana - yes I am lucky to be a Canadian right now, for even doing drugs as light as weed when illegal still makes people feel like criminals when they are not and that, and many other points are brought up in the pages of Brian k. Vaughan's reliably consistent series "Ex Machina" and the artwork only improves as a bonus. Great work that can be consumed quickly but leaves a lasting impression and you will not regret reading it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Jones

    Another great volume in the Ex Machina series. This one felt a little less multi-dimensional. Mayor Hundred lets slip that he has, in his past, smoked pot once or twice. Then a woman immolates herself on City Hall steps. Then a guy dressed as a fireman is breaking, entering, assaulting, and robbing. In the midst of all this, a new team member appears, January (Journal's sister), and she may not have Mayor Hundred's best interests in mind. A lot of stuff is happening, but I didn't feel a lot of c Another great volume in the Ex Machina series. This one felt a little less multi-dimensional. Mayor Hundred lets slip that he has, in his past, smoked pot once or twice. Then a woman immolates herself on City Hall steps. Then a guy dressed as a fireman is breaking, entering, assaulting, and robbing. In the midst of all this, a new team member appears, January (Journal's sister), and she may not have Mayor Hundred's best interests in mind. A lot of stuff is happening, but I didn't feel a lot of character growth or story progression in this book. And where is his mom?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    (view spoiler)[ A woman self-immolates herself on City Hall's front steps. Hundred admits to prior marijuana use, which starts yet another media circus. Also, Journal's sister January comes to work for the team. Meanwhile, a man who impersonates a firefighter is going around killing people in their apartments. We learn that January is working with Kremlin to try and take down Hundred in some way. We learn that the woman who self-immolated herself was doing it because her son (a pot dealer) was ca (view spoiler)[ A woman self-immolates herself on City Hall's front steps. Hundred admits to prior marijuana use, which starts yet another media circus. Also, Journal's sister January comes to work for the team. Meanwhile, a man who impersonates a firefighter is going around killing people in their apartments. We learn that January is working with Kremlin to try and take down Hundred in some way. We learn that the woman who self-immolated herself was doing it because her son (a pot dealer) was caught by the Great Machine years ago and was just killed in prison. (hide spoiler)]

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Lawless

    I don't think I'll be continuing this series. I just find it quite dull and am very ambivalent about it. Usually within the first 5 volumes you can tell if a series is good and this just isn't it for me. Like my reviews of the previous volumes, there's a lot of potential here, but it never really gets developed. I'm quite disappointed. I don't think I'll be continuing this series. I just find it quite dull and am very ambivalent about it. Usually within the first 5 volumes you can tell if a series is good and this just isn't it for me. Like my reviews of the previous volumes, there's a lot of potential here, but it never really gets developed. I'm quite disappointed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Another fun volume in this series. Maybe I liked it better than the last one? I don’t remember. I think I need to settle down and just read the series to get through it. I think it’s more enjoyable to read this in one setting instead of how I do it – whenever I randomly have time…

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Riedesel

    A little outdated in terms of progressive political ideas, but still relevant in grappling with real-world problems from the middle. Stories are interesting and the long arc has kept me reading through all the volumes I can find oncomixology.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I am a HUGE Brian K. Vaughan fan, but... I don't know. I'm just not feeling this series so far. Still seeing it through to the end though. I am a HUGE Brian K. Vaughan fan, but... I don't know. I'm just not feeling this series so far. Still seeing it through to the end though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    PvOberstein

    Good, if comparably "safe". Discussed drug law reform but doesn't quite push it as far as the subject could go. Average superhero antics. Good, if comparably "safe". Discussed drug law reform but doesn't quite push it as far as the subject could go. Average superhero antics.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This is the first volume that I can safely say that I enjoyed. It's still disjointed at times, but the author does a fine job of showing how no decision can be absent of political consequences. This is the first volume that I can safely say that I enjoyed. It's still disjointed at times, but the author does a fine job of showing how no decision can be absent of political consequences.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Pankau

    The continuation of super hero struggling with politics. In this volume, marijuana & fire fighters are the focus. Compared to previous volumes, it's a little bit dull. The continuation of super hero struggling with politics. In this volume, marijuana & fire fighters are the focus. Compared to previous volumes, it's a little bit dull.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Neville Ridley-smith

    It was ok but nothing special. That is all.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steven Werber

    Always terrific!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    So far this series has been alternating in quality. I really enjoyed Volume 4; Volume 5 started off interesting enough by picking legalized pot as its topic du jour but Vaughn never really does much with it. The best Ex Machina stories tie the political hot button issue to Hundred's heroics and weave them together seamlessly. In Volume 5 the legalization of pot is only marginally tied to other parts of the story and there are a few other subplots that don't amount to much. Pages are devoted to J So far this series has been alternating in quality. I really enjoyed Volume 4; Volume 5 started off interesting enough by picking legalized pot as its topic du jour but Vaughn never really does much with it. The best Ex Machina stories tie the political hot button issue to Hundred's heroics and weave them together seamlessly. In Volume 5 the legalization of pot is only marginally tied to other parts of the story and there are a few other subplots that don't amount to much. Pages are devoted to Journal's sister and her ulterior motives but it never really picks up and it's mostly table setting for later issues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah T.

    Argh! I'm pretty sure I've already read this volume as part of a larger work. :/ It's annoying how I can't seem to keep the stand alone volumes straight from the larger collections, but I guess I don't mind a re-read of this series. I still love it (I'd still vote for Hundred to be my mayor)! Argh! I'm pretty sure I've already read this volume as part of a larger work. :/ It's annoying how I can't seem to keep the stand alone volumes straight from the larger collections, but I guess I don't mind a re-read of this series. I still love it (I'd still vote for Hundred to be my mayor)!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    (1) "Smoke, Smoke" The weakest "Ex Machina" book so far, the trademark Vaughan writing is here, and so is the incredible art by Tony Harris, but the plot lines of Mitchell's powers & purpose takes a back seat to: - a guy posing as a firefighter who breaks into people's homes. This constitutes the "mystery" part of the book, but it doesn't play a big aprt in the overall arc. - January, blaming Mitchell for her sister's death (Journal, in the events of Ex Machina, Vol. 4: March to War) becomes an int (1) "Smoke, Smoke" The weakest "Ex Machina" book so far, the trademark Vaughan writing is here, and so is the incredible art by Tony Harris, but the plot lines of Mitchell's powers & purpose takes a back seat to: - a guy posing as a firefighter who breaks into people's homes. This constitutes the "mystery" part of the book, but it doesn't play a big aprt in the overall arc. - January, blaming Mitchell for her sister's death (Journal, in the events of Ex Machina, Vol. 4: March to War) becomes an intern at the mayor's office. What we find out is that she is in fact spying on Mitchell for an as-yet-unidentified person. "There is a traitor is our midst!" - a debate within the mayor's office about the legalisation (or not) of marijuana. Turns out Mitchell likes to light up once in while. This is the political side of the book, but other than bringing up factoids, it does nothing to further the issue. (2) "Stand Alone" An appropriately titled stand alone story, an exploration of Bradbury's character, kind of like an "who he is and how he came to be" thing. This is by far one of the strongest issues yet and it goes a long way to redeeming this collection to 4-star level. Again, a German agent shows up, and this time it is Bradbury who's held at gunpoint. Like the previous appearance of German agents (in Ex Machina, Vol. 2: Tag), this particular plot line is left unresolved, and will remain so for the rest of the series. Click here for a review of the next volume, Ex Machina: Power Down - VOL 06)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Reenie

    This series is a little like some of the weird flavour pairings that restaurants that fancy themselves innovative like to dream up... two independently interesting concepts (superheroes and the trials of running NYC) shoehorned together, with uncertain results. Sometimes it's like the NYC mayor thing adds a lot of cool new layers to the superhero's past of mystery, a flavourful zing to the mash-up, and sometimes it's more like strawberry and roast beef crudites... i.e. 'Why did seem like a good This series is a little like some of the weird flavour pairings that restaurants that fancy themselves innovative like to dream up... two independently interesting concepts (superheroes and the trials of running NYC) shoehorned together, with uncertain results. Sometimes it's like the NYC mayor thing adds a lot of cool new layers to the superhero's past of mystery, a flavourful zing to the mash-up, and sometimes it's more like strawberry and roast beef crudites... i.e. 'Why did seem like a good idea to put these two things together?' This volume was edging a little more to the second, with the interweaving of social policies from the mayor part (in this case, decriminalising marijuana) to flashbacks and issues from the superheroes days (in this case, hunting down a pot dealer) feeling a little forced and uninspired. The little bit of Bradbury backstory at the end wasn't terrible either, though for some reason looking back on it, all I'm left thinking is that it would have been much better had it been written by Garth Ennis.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gphatty

    I've enjoyed the first 3 in the series, and my library doesn't have volume 4, so I skipped ahead to read this one. I don't think I missed a ton -- maybe I have read volume 4 in a Border's somewhere. This plot centers on a series of crimes committed by someone dressed up as a firefighter. In the wake of 9/11, where everyone deified firefighters, this is a darkly funny take on U.S. culture. The subplot -- which is alluded to in the cover art -- is about Mayor Hundred's stance on marijuana. Initiall I've enjoyed the first 3 in the series, and my library doesn't have volume 4, so I skipped ahead to read this one. I don't think I missed a ton -- maybe I have read volume 4 in a Border's somewhere. This plot centers on a series of crimes committed by someone dressed up as a firefighter. In the wake of 9/11, where everyone deified firefighters, this is a darkly funny take on U.S. culture. The subplot -- which is alluded to in the cover art -- is about Mayor Hundred's stance on marijuana. Initially, it would seem that Vaughan just threw in the pot angle to raise some political issues, and maybe play with metaphors for fire, burning and smoke. But by the end, it seems to be implied that the Mayor might still be toking up now and then, as a way of dealing with the stresses of his job. And the potential of a casual pot-smoking mayor who can communicate with machines has me excited to read the next collection.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zan G

    Ex Machina is a great series with a really interesting concept, but unfortunately it's been getting a bit bogged down lately. The original quirky idea of combining Iron Man with the West Wing worked great at first but lately we are getting into super villains and alternate dimensions that detracts from what made Ex Machina really interesting in the first place: a modern realistic world reacting to a person with powers. The more they add superpowers the less this series is separated from the herd Ex Machina is a great series with a really interesting concept, but unfortunately it's been getting a bit bogged down lately. The original quirky idea of combining Iron Man with the West Wing worked great at first but lately we are getting into super villains and alternate dimensions that detracts from what made Ex Machina really interesting in the first place: a modern realistic world reacting to a person with powers. The more they add superpowers the less this series is separated from the herd and that is a big problem when it is the only notable thing about your comic.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    So the Mayor of New York is a huge stoner? Hmmm. Okay, so not really, but you get the idea. I should have known when I picked up a volume titled, "Smoke, Smoke" with psychedelic marijuana-print vests and stuff. Next time I'll pay more attention. For as security-centric the story was a few issues ago, this volume leans more towards social issues like, surprise!, the legalization of marijuana. It's interesting and idealistic and about as real as watching a really good episode of "The West Wing." I So the Mayor of New York is a huge stoner? Hmmm. Okay, so not really, but you get the idea. I should have known when I picked up a volume titled, "Smoke, Smoke" with psychedelic marijuana-print vests and stuff. Next time I'll pay more attention. For as security-centric the story was a few issues ago, this volume leans more towards social issues like, surprise!, the legalization of marijuana. It's interesting and idealistic and about as real as watching a really good episode of "The West Wing." In other words, I'll take this fictional world any day.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Meh, this one didn't really do much for me. The 'issue of the week' approach is wearing a little thing and the whole pot issue is so benign as to be pointless (and weakly resolved - it all just feels like a throw away idea to fill some time). Still, there are some interesting character developments and an odd villain of the week who has a slightly different relationship with a machine. The standalone issue based around Bradbury is ok but not revelatory. I'm committed now but I want a little more t Meh, this one didn't really do much for me. The 'issue of the week' approach is wearing a little thing and the whole pot issue is so benign as to be pointless (and weakly resolved - it all just feels like a throw away idea to fill some time). Still, there are some interesting character developments and an odd villain of the week who has a slightly different relationship with a machine. The standalone issue based around Bradbury is ok but not revelatory. I'm committed now but I want a little more than this and some sense of where the grander story is headed would be good.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aurora

    I find it hard to understand where this series thinks it's going. I like superheroes and pushing the liberal political agenda as much as anyone, but they go together like ice cream and sauerkraut. Especially as it becomes clear that this series has little or no intention of actually explaining any of its larger mysteries. I hate to make this accusation, but it really seems to me that they're never going to give us any answers because there are no answers. I find it hard to understand where this series thinks it's going. I like superheroes and pushing the liberal political agenda as much as anyone, but they go together like ice cream and sauerkraut. Especially as it becomes clear that this series has little or no intention of actually explaining any of its larger mysteries. I hate to make this accusation, but it really seems to me that they're never going to give us any answers because there are no answers.

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