Ex Machina: Ring Out the Old – Brian K. Vaughan

It’s true. Vaughan has finally gone bat-shit crazy. He has put himself in his own comic. Not the “author insertion fantasy” of bad writers everywhere but as himself with his own likeness as a real person. He has taken his artist with him too, and now they are talking to his fictional characters about real events.

I don’t think “breaking the fourth wall” is a strong enough expression for what occurs here. He may be ahead of his time or completely off his rocker but there is one moment where both the fictional and the autobiographical are so perfectly balanced you begin to doubt your own reality. The story within a story spirals off into the abyss and Vaughan looks right back at you.

It is clever but maybe such theatrics should be on the stage and not derailing a graphic novel. Vaughan would probably be better off with a newspaper column as he declares himself the Jeremy Clarkson of NYC and abandons satire, allegory or parody for poetic ranting.

But that is only the first story. The second is another one-shot, with a different artist, which is an environmental message with a dig at other people’s comics. Then finally we get down to the main story, which is a tense and taught affair concerning a McGuffin that should have been introduced at the start of series if it was to have any credibility. The whole thing then melts into sci-fi psychedelics.

It does feel like he is making it all up as he goes along, or got bored ages ago and is messing around until he gets fired. Yet the characters and the story are so compelling we can’t tear ourselves away from this hand-basket to hell.

The art is familiar and comforting yet lacks the previous sparkle seen in earlier volumes. Even the replacement artist does a good job with the characters without aping Harris’ style.

Thumbs Up, but I am not sure for how much longer.

243/12

Tomorrow: Ex Machina: Term Limits – Brian K. Vaughan

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