May 1st, 2006


Ex Machina

My friend Mark lent me the first two trade collections of Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris' Ex Machina. I'm a big fan of Vaughan's Y: The Last Man, and I'd heard good things about this series as well, so I was eager to give it a go.

Ex Machina is about Mitchell Hundred, the world's only superhero (his costume is clunky and idiotic, and he's given himself the ridiculous name The Great Machine), who saves one of the towers on 9/11 and gets elected mayor of New York City. Now, instead of fighting crime and saving falling window washers, he has to deal with political issues like gay marriage and controversial, publicly funded art. It's a brilliant idea, and Vaughan utilizes much of the same sarcastic wit he brought to Y: The Last Man, especially when he focuses on how New York City would actually react to a superhero ("Crazed Wingman Shuts Down Subway for Eleven Hours!" exclaims one headline after the Great Machine uses his powers to save some kids on the tracks).

I like it a lot, but it's not quite as compelling as Y: The Last Man. Where I was always eager to find out what would happen to Yorick and his friends next, with Ex Machina I feel little such compulsion. I think the problem lies in the fact that all the political stuff is only mildly interesting, sort of in the way The West Wing is only mildly interesting (or maybe I'm biased -- that show has been dead to me for years). I'll happily continue reading Ex Machina if my friend lends me more collections, because it is good, but I'm not chomping at the bit for more the way I am with Y: The Last Man.

Mark also lent me four issues of Warren Ellis' Fell, which I'll be diving into soon. I like Ellis' work. And today my friend Mary, co-owner of Rocketship, my local comic shop, lent me three issues of Steve Niles' Aleister Arcane.

It's the official Week of Comics!

Masters of Horror

I've finally seen the two Masters of Horror episodes that are currently available on DVD. I missed the series when it ran because I don't have Showtime (and watch too much TV as it is), so I was really happy to learn they were starting to release them on DVD immediately after the first season ended. Judging from these two episodes alone, I'd have to say this anthology show is pretty good.

John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns is probably the best project he's done in a decade. The story about hunting down a legendary film that supposedly drove audiences to violent insanity plays out with a compelling originality one doesn't often find in horror movies anymore. As the mystery starts to unravel and our hero gets closer to finding the lost film, the situation becomes more and more cosmic and terrifying. All of which makes the climax a bit of a letdown. Once the film is finally screened, it should have resulted in something far more apocalyptic than it did. Still, it was good and it felt fresh. I liked it a lot.

Stuart Gordon's Dreams in the Witch House wasn't quite as good. The whole thing felt rather trite to me, and the little man-rat looked ridiculous (and spoke in a faux Peter Lorre accent!). There were no surprises to freshen the story up, either. It plays out exactly how you think it's going to. I think I lost my suspension of disbelief early on, when the 300-year-old witch first appears to our hero in a cloak, then throws off the cloak to reveal her naked body underneath. Somehow I don't think a 300-year-old witch would have shaved her pubes into a landing strip. But maybe that's just me. Dreams isn't terrible or anything, it just suffers in comparison to Carpenter's far more original entry.

I'm looking forward to seeing more!

Losing Weight

I think I finally dropped the last of the weight gain from when I tried to quit smoking last year, and then some. I just added another hole to my belt to keep my pants from falling down.