I don’t buy comics any more, but I have started popping down to the library to read its graphic novel selection. Today I picked up Ex Machina: Tag, and I’m impressed.
The series follows Mitchell Hundred, one time superhero and now mayor of New York, flashing back and forth between his election campaign and present difficulties. Several years before Hundred was caught in the explosion of an unknown piece of technology and developed the ability to “talk” to machines. After a career spent saving the odd life and wearing a costume he admits is extremely dorky, he outed himself and announced he was running for Mayor. Along the way he attracted the attention of the NSA and several foreign intelligence services, leading to dangers he’d much rather do without.
Having won the mayoral race after involvement in a pivotal moment in modern history Hundred now finds himself in office and facing the fraught questions of school vouchers and gay marriage. Meanwhile something is very wrong with his NSA handler and a mysterious tag linked to his powers is showing up on the subway walls and inducing homicidal and suicidal behaviour.
The idea of a superhero turning to politics can’t be new, but it certainly hasn’t been explored much. Brian K Vaughn does a good job of mixing the West Wing with the Iron Man. There is a hint that Hundred’s condition has left him somehow other than human. Some times the decisions he makes are based upon tactical rather than emotional thinking- a lot like many a political animal- but he does seem to be getting some of his humanity back. I imagine this is a thread to be investigated in future episodes.
I’m going to be looking out for other volumes from this series on the library shelves and when I’m feeling rich enough I may even buy copies.