Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ex Machina #6

Ex Machina 6 - Comic of the DaySometimes you don't know exactly why you like an artist's work right away. You stare at their creations and no that it speaks to you or fills you with a sense of aw or even emotion, but when another person asks you why you like it all you can offer up is, "I just do."

Thanks to Ex Machina #6, I now understand why "I just do" like Brian K. Vaughan's writing so much. He tackles social, governmental and taboo issues in stories that compelling for other reasons all together. Vaughan's work with Y: The Last Man takes a look at how gender effects society, how gender effects individuals and the effect of gender on others, government and the world; yet, the story is also about a guy and his monkey trying to get by in a world where every man has died in an instant. The outside story is entertaining but the underlining issues of gender is what gives the book such great depth.

Another quick example is Brian K. Vaughan's Pride of Baghdad. It is based on a true story about lions who leave an Iraqi zoo when it is damaged during the current Iraqi conflict. The book comments on the fact that the lions have a moment of freedom, yet since the became free under odd circumstances the freedom is short lived and results in the lions destruction. Vaughan use the stories of the lions to shed life on what happens when one doesn't create their own freedom, but rather they are given it rather clumsily.

Going back to Ex Machina, Vaughan's first story arch touches on race through a piece of art baring a certain derogatory "N" word on it. Arguments for the interpretation of the piece were included throughout the book, and regardless on the characters take on the art or what the outcome regarding it ended up being, I appreciated the discussion.

In the comic of the day, Ex Machina #6, a couple of new topics are brought up which involves a bit of interesting dialog. First, in a brief discussion between a Mayor Hundred and his friend/city employee, the speak about the issue of the poor public education in New York, the possibility of education vouchers for the poor and the ideology for the use of affirmative action. The other part of the book happens at the end and will bleed into issue #7. The Mayor is asked if he will wed two men. The Mayor implies he has no problem with it at the end of the comic, but we will have to wait till the next issue to discover how that will play out.

I love it. The political and social stuff being mixed into my paper entertainment pleases me to no end. The best part about reading it in the comic is that I don't have to pick a side. Vaughan presents arguments for both sides, which I can just sit back and take in.

Some critics may argue by bringing up these issues Vaughan is leaning one way or the other on them and telling the reader to think his way. I disagree with that assessment. Ed Brubaker gets criticism for his books (most notable the recent Captain America "Two Americas" story line) for raising current political and social issues of our day and both Brubaker and Vaughan are doing just that: "raising" the issues. They never tell a reader to think one way or the other they simply present the situation and have their character (who has an established view point) make a decision. The reader is just that, a reader: following along and able to judge for themselves. There are plenty of comic books available to readers who just want nonsense entertainment, hell even I like the non-sense some times, but if a reader really wants to get their noodle going they should pick up a Brian K Vaughan book the next time they hit their comic shop or local bookstore.

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