Ex Machina Volume 5: Smoke, Smoke by Brian K Vaughan

A crime thriller mixed with super hero style, in a graphic novel.
Ex Machina Volume 5: Smoke, Smoke book cover

Graphic novels usually contain existing stories of heroes and villains trying to get the better of each other, but every so often, there are some who have no super heroes in them, just regular heroes and villains along with those who wish to bring them down.

Set in the future, Ex Machina: Smoke, Smoke concerns drugs, whether being bought or sold on the streets, in back alleys or in dark, dingy buildings, this chronicles the futuristic wave of the city drug problem, and Mayor Mitchell Hundred has to decide on what to do with New York City's drug laws. Mitchell has since quit being a regular hero who could control machines, and decided to become mayor to give himself a break from the responsibility of taking down enemies. It seems he has taken on a new responsibility though with how he can tackle the city's drug laws. He has seen what has happened to the city, and wants to see to it that he has the people's best interests at heart. It won't be easy for him-not when other things are going on that confuse and concern the authorities.

There are issues that help him make his decisions, though and Bradbury, along with his side-kick are out investigating a series of break ins where a man is dressed up as a firefighter. As firefighter's are seen as trusted in any community, it makes it easy for this unknown man to gain entry into flats and houses any way he likes, and just when they think they are going to be saved from a possible fire, he pounces and steals their possessions, jewellery or money, he doesn't care.

This is a crime thriller mixed with super hero style, in a graphic novel yet it falls short of what it could be. Though the artwork is excellent, the characters interesting, and it is easy to get involved in their lives, it is the story that does not seem to work. It acts as muddled as the characters in the story who are over indulging in mind-warping drugs.

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