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Sympathy for the Other: The Science-Fiction Horror Film in the Brexit/Trump Era

It’s not over. It’s just not yours any more.

– Melanie, The Girl With All the Gifts

exmachina

Note: This post contains minor spoilers for the reboot of Westworld and major spoilers for the endings of The Girl With All the Gifts and Ex Machina. Consider yourself warned. Continue reading

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Star Trek – Ex Machina by Christopher L. Bennett (Review)

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

Ex Machina is really an astoundingly clever piece of work. On the surface, a lot of reads like a fan’s wishlist, a collection of “snags” made while watching the classic Star Trek films and making a conscious effort to fix them up a bit. There’s a lot of effort into explaining the changes between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with character-centric subplots focusing on Kirk’s ego or Chekov’s growing disenfranchisement.

Indeed, Bennett even provides an entirely unnecessary but quite-enjoyable-nonetheless set of annotations for Ex Machina, explaining where and how he’s tying his story into a rake of continuity. He describes Ex Machina as probing “an unexplored gap” in the franchise’s chronology. Ex Machina exists as both a sequel to a rather bland third-season episode of the show (For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky) and The Motion Picture. Neither is especially loved among fans.

However, what’s fascinating about Ex Machina is the way that none of this prevents Bennett from crafting a compelling and intriguing narrative. It’s clear that he’s enjoying attempts to fill in various gaps, but Ex Machina works incredibly well as a piece of Star Trek which stands on its own two feet.

st-exmachina

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Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition – Volume V (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Ex Machina. And in June, I’ll be reviewing his Y: The Last Man.

If you follow any story to its real conclusion, you always get the same thing. Regret. Pain. Loss. That’s why I like superhero books. Month after month, they just keep going. So no matter what terrible things happen, you know there’ll always be another chance for wrongs to get righted. It’s like, without a last act, those stories never get to become tragedies.

I guess that’s why they call ’em comics.

– Mitchell Hundred, Vice

This is it. The end. The final run of issues where Brian K. Vaughan wraps up his second hugely successful and hugely acclaimed original comic book series, as we follow Mayor Mitchell Hundred through the final traumatic year in Gracie Mansion…

… and beyond.

Ex mayor?

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Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition – Volume IV (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Ex Machina. And in June, I’ll be reviewing his Y: The Last Man.

What’s weird about the fourth ane penultimate volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ superb superhero political science fiction mish-mash comic book is simple how much fun it is. I’m not suggesting for a moment that the first three volumes were anything less than superb, but there’s a sense of playfulness in this volume which just makes it seem like the creators are have the time of their lives. I was worried after the last volume that the underlying “conspiracy” story would overwhelm the saga as it reached completion, but it’s still just as fascinating and unpredictable as it was back when it began.

Justice for all?

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Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition – Volume III (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Ex Machina. And in June, I’ll be reviewing his Y: The Last Man.

We’re at the half-way point in this saga of the superhero mayor of New York City, so that means that Vaughan and Harris are turning things up a few notches. The three central threads of the series – Mayor Hundred’s time in office, his history as a superhero and the conspiracy surrounding his origin – are beginning to intertwine and collide in a variety of interesting ways. Being entirely honest, I’ve always been a bit skeptical about how the series hopes to balance all these different elements, particularly with a relatively short run of fifty issues. As things begin to move to a head, it becomes clear which of these particular threads that Vaughan is going to focus on.

Talk about catching the bus...

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Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition – Volume II (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Ex Machina. And in June, I’ll be reviewing his Y: The Last Man.

It’s interesting how times change. Ex Machina was originally published in August 2004, written by a New Yorker as something of a response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It’s an exploration of a time when the country needed heroes and figureheads more than it needed politicians and diplomats. Is a superhero in Gracie Mansion any more insane than a cowboy in the White House? However, reading it now it’s interesting to see the similarities between Vaughan’s protagonist, the Honorable Mayor Mitchell Hundred, and Barack Obama. It’s the sign of a good storyteller that the tale remains relevant years after initial publication. It’s the sign of a great storyteller that the tale becomes even more relevant in the years that follow.

He's got the whole world, in his hands...

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Ex Machina: The Deluxe Edition – Volume I (Review)

In an effort to prove that comic books aren’t just about men in spandex hitting each other really hard, this month I’m reviewing all of Brian K. Vaughan’s superb Ex Machina. And in June, I’ll be reviewing his Y: The Last Man.

I don’t think that any creator has had quite the success of Brian K. Vaughan when it comes to original comic book series over the past decade (okay, maybe Robert Kirkman). Both of his famous original books recently came to a close after runs of over fifty issues each, and are both being collected in superb deluxe editions. Ex Machina doesn’t quite have the same dramatic hook or clarity of focus as Y: The Last Man does, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a stunning example of pulp fiction – wonderfully well-written social fantasy which is cleverly observed and even more smartly constructed.

All cogs in The Great Machine...

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