THE STORY: "Ex Machina" by Brian K. Vaughan (W) and Tony Harris (A) — WildStorm Productions
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Mitchell Hundred is much more than just The Great Machine, a superhero gifted with the unprecedented ability to communicate with all forms of technology and machinery — he's also the mayor of New York City, a position he was elected into after saving one of the Twin Towers on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.
Hanging up his superhero duds for a suit and tie, Mitchell is forced to wade through the murky waters of political and super-powered threats alike, learning along the way that those two worlds aren't always mutually exclusive.
WHY IT WORKS: As has been said in the past, "Ex Machina" is essentially "The West Wing" with super powers. "Y: The Last Man" author Brian K. Vaughan weaves a brilliant story of a uniquely gifted individual who is often in way over his head both on the battlefield and the political landscape.
Rounded out by a truly memorable cast of characters that includes brutish-but-good-hearted security chief Bradbury and the mischievous Kremlin — not to mention the beautiful artwork from Tony Harris — there is really no shortage of awe-inspiring potential in the world of "Ex Machina."
WHY IT DOESN'T: "Ex Machina" is not for everyone, particularly due to its often divisive tackling of hot-button political issues such as gay marriage, marijuana legalization and more. It also relies heavily on the backdrop of an alternate universe where only one of the towers fell on 9/11, so there is a sensitivity issue to consider there. For those reasons, an "Ex Machina" adaptation could have a difficult time finding a wide audience.
HOW TO DO IT: The comparison to "West Wing" is more than just a thematic commonality, as there's no question that "Ex Machina" is better suited for television than it is for film. A mature audiences network like HBO or Showtime is certainly the best home for Vaughan and Harris' tale, but channels like AMC or FX would work just fine.
More importantly, the content of "Ex Machina" cannot be watered down. Controversial though it may be, it's the sheer bravery of the story material that sets "Ex Machina" so far above other comic books that deal with the politics of today.
FINAL WORD: Translating "Ex Machina" from paneled page to live action is no easy feat, and if it can't be properly and faithfully translated, it's best to leave the series be. However, if handled successfully, "Ex Machina" could easily become a valuable and iconic piece of popular culture that viewers will come back to for many years to come.
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