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Ex Machina was created by Brian K. Vaughan, the Eisner Award-winning brain behind series such as Y: The Last Man and Runaways and drawn by Tony Harris. It depicts the life of civil engineer Mitchell Hundred, who gained the ability to communicate with machines. He used his powers to become the world's first and only Super Hero, "The Great Machine". After using his powers to prevent the fall of the second tower in the 9/11 attacks, Mitchell has since retired from the role and is currently the mayor of New York City. The series contains the events of his term in office, with frequent flashbacks to his superhero days.

The series wrapped up with the planned 50 issues in 2010.

Has nothing to do with either the 2015 film, or with the 2005 post-apocalyptic truck driving game known as Ex Machina in its native Russia.


Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Monica in her "Trouble" persona performs a number of dangerous stunts and beats up a naked woman.
  • Adaptation Title Change: It was announced in 2020 that the upcoming movie would be called The Great Machine in order to differentiate from a similarly named 2014 movie that also starred Oscar Isaac.
  • Alternate History:
    • The second tower of the World Trade Center didn't go down in this universe.
    • Hundred ends the series as the veep for President John McCain.
    • Also, midway through the series it's revealed that other universes exist, with technological Eldritch Abominations systematically conquering them. One alternate universe is described as being a place where the Cold War never ended (the USSR reverse engineered technology from a device similar to that which granted Mitchell's powers and grew in power, leading to a US-Middle East alliance against them), the "son of Reagan" became president instead of George W. Bush, but American Idol and The Other Wiki still exist. That universe is later revealed to have been subsequently conquered, with an allusion made to the extermination of its native human population.
  • Ambiguously Gay: It's never revealed whether Mitchell is gay, straight, asexual, or attracted to machines. Vaughn says in an interview that he toyed with revealing it, but ultimately decided not to. There is much in-universe speculation by other characters.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Did Hundred rig the election with the White Box, or is that just a load of nonsense made up by his political rivals and enemies? Hundred and his allies deny it at every turn, even amongst themselves, but the evidence starts stacking up against him... and as the last arc shows, Hundred is not above lying to even his closest friends in order to appease them.
    • On a related note, did Bradbury strike Susanna with the White Box simply because of his violent nature (later resulting in him hitting his ex-wife), or did the Box manipulate him to do it so that it could pass its power on to a human avatar?
  • Animals Hate Him: A side-effect of Hundred gaining his powers is that animals are now extremely hostile to him. Pherson believes it's because they can tell that he is failing to use his powers to help them, but his judgement is heavily skewed by his insanity.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Automaton is more unbalanced than the Great Machine, and at one point shoots a prostitute's client with a less than lethal round.
  • Arc Words: "The Stars are Down". First introduced as the title of a (non-existent) Nirvana song that is played on an old radio, near the shard which gave Mitchell his powers. It's implied the song is being sung in one of the Alternate Universes.
  • Arch-Enemy: Jack Pherson, the closest thing to a true "supervillain" Mitchell fought before retiring. He's a Posthumous Character whose story is told in out-of-order flashbacks, but his presence is still felt through most of the run.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Bradbury talks a lot about banging girls, acts overly macho, and uses many gay slurs, but is actually a closeted gay man with a crush on Hundred. When Bradbury finally comes out to Hundred and gets rebuffed, Bradbury goes right back into denial, punching Hundred and calling him a faggot.
  • Art Shift: The single page of the comic that gets made of Hundred's life is drawn by a different artist and written by Garth Ennis. The art looks completely different, and the writing is all in first-person narration, something that Ex Machina never uses otherwise.
  • Author Appeal: Mitchell is a comic book fan, and comics take a prominent role in the plot.
  • Author Avatar: Both Vaughan and Harris appear as themselves in "Ruthless". Doubles as Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Author Filibuster: While most of Hundred's outspoken political views might or might not actually be shared by Vaughan, it's clear that the lengthy subplot involving Hundred's legalization of gay marriage is based on Vaughan's actual beliefs, and it's pretty easy to hear Vaughan speaking through his character.
  • Back from the Dead: Defied. Although Kremlin and even Mitchell believe that Pherson may have managed a true super-villain stunt and returned from the dead, he didn't.
  • Bat Signal: Poked at when Angotti puts a gear symbol on a searchlight (as a gesture of friendship, well after his 'retirement'), but Mitchell doesn't see it.
  • Because Destiny Says So: A fortune teller tells Mitchell he will become the Great Machine again. He also receives a vision from God telling him he will be President of the United States.
  • Big Applesauce: Takes place almost entirely in New York.
  • Blackmail
    • The unnamed New York governor, working through his minion Trip, tries to blackmail Mitchell, but Mitchell turns the tables on him and keeps their evidence for use as possible blackmail later.
    • Kremlin threatens to send proof that Mitchell rigged the election to authorities. When Mitchell asks if anyone else has seen the evidence, Kremlin confesses that he hasn't shown it to anyone and is in the process of admitting that he never really had any intention to, but Mitchell kills him first.
  • Blessed with Suck: Mitchell's power manifests itself as being able to command machines, and also to "listen" to them. He can't turn it off and lives in New York City, so the noise is constant, and he at first believed he was going insane. Also, his power comes from extradimensional invaders who want to eradicate humanity.
  • Body Horror: Mitchell's accident gave him glowing green flesh under his skin that looks like circuitry. It's revealed after the accident when he has a good chunk of his face blown off, including his ear.
  • Bodyguard Crush: The final issue reveals that Bradbury has been in love with Mitchell.
  • Book Ends: Hundred begins and ends the comic telling his story to his jetpack.
  • Bond One-Liner: Hundred quips, "I hope you guys aren't afraid of the dark!" before shutting off all the lights in a fight. Afterwards, Kremlin tells him how stupid he is for saying that.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The blackout.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Failsafe, the White Box.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Suzanne Padilla.
  • Chest Insignia: And also possible leitmotif, a gear. All of Mitchell's alternate selves have variations of this insignia.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Both demonstrated by the series cast and Lampshaded as well.
    Mitchell: Candy do you really think I'm the first politician with a potty mouth? There are probably old recordings of Lincoln calling Congress a bunch of douchebags.
  • Chummy Commies: Kremlin is a Cool Old Guy who first suggests that Mitchell could use his powers for heroism. His reasoning is heavily based on the communist ideal of "from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs". He spends most of the run trying to manipulate Hundred into giving up his role as mayor and return to his role as the Great Machine. This eventually leads to his death.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Hundred's green speech commands machines. There's also the "Violet" for animals wielded by Pherson and the drone, and the "White" for people wielded by Suzanne. The alien probe mentions that there's also a Red for plants, which Gardener can apparently access based on the knowledge he gains from plants speaking to him.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Subverted. Mitchell tries to help people by not using his powers.
  • Companion Cube: The fireman killer treats his oxygen tank, which he attaches to his penis, as a lover.
  • Compelling Voice: Mitchell's, Pherson's and Suzanne's powers.
  • Convenient Misfire: Mitchell is confident that a hick won't shoot him during a fight. When the hick does try, nothing happens. Afterwards, Mitchell reveals that the gun had already told him that it was empty. He pulls the trigger to demonstrate, but it fires. It was loaded the whole time and lying about it. The misfire saved Mitchell's life.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The invaders from the other dimension seen in Hundred's dream are basically cosmic horrors.
  • Dated History: A member of the Department of Defense states that if Mitchell's staff had read the classified intelligence that he has, they would know how closely Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda are linked. At the time of the story's publishing in 2005, this was still an issue in dispute. However, later investigations and intelligence declassification would reveal that Saddam Hussein and Al Quaeda had no functional relationship, and Hussein had no involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: It's left ambiguous whether Hundred and Suzanne's relationship was sexual.
  • Different World, Different Movies: One of the first clues that the green device is from another dimension is when it sends a broadcast of a Nirvana song that never existed. There is, however, a lot of crossover with some other dimensions. Also demonstrated with the series' own alternate timeline: apparently, Michael Moore made a documentary about the Great Machine at one point.
  • Double-Meaning Title: A few examples.
    • "The First Hundred Days" is about Mitchell Hundred's first days in office as Mayor, but it also alludes to an old adage about politics (that a politician's first 100 days in office are the most important).
    • "Smoke Smoke" is about Mitchell and co. investigating a string of crimes apparently committed by a rogue firefighter, but also about the administration getting into a debate about marijuana legalization, ending with the revelation that Mitch smokes marijuana himself.
  • Downer Ending: It's implied that Hundred rigged his own election. He then turns his back on Bradbury and kills Kremlin to protect his political career in the final issue. There's also the ambiguous threat of whether the extra-dimensional invaders will try again. This is lampshaded in the end, when Hundred says that most comics never end, which prevents them from becoming a tragedy.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Hundred states that sometimes he can't see things right in front of him. Behind him is an unnoticed graffiti of the villains' mysterious green glyph.
    • Hundred complains about feeling "alone". Behind him is a masked intruder about to swing a baseball bat at his head.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Mitchell's dreams. Few of them are pleasant, as many imply that his world will be invaded and destroyed by cross-dimensional legions of hell.
  • Empty Shell: Mitchell at the end. He's Lonely At The Top as the Vice Presidential candidate, has driven off or otherwise lost those closest to him, committed murder, and is haunted by the thought that the invaders will try again.
  • Enemy of My Enemy: Jack Pherson tries to use this logic to recruit the commissioner to help him fight Hundred. It doesn't work.
  • Evil All Along: Depending on whether or not you believe that Hundred rigged the election in his favor. And even if he didn't, he still crosses that line when he murders his own father figure to keep that story quiet, as it could effect his election chances. And earlier it turns out he made up the Jammers to appease his friends.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Hundred is confronted in a dream by evil versions of himself from other dimensions.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: In the very end, Hundred coldly turns his back on Bradbury and straight-up murders Kremlin to protect his political career. There are hints all along that Hundred is not as nice a guy as he often seems, but it isn't confirmed until the final issue.
  • Failure Knight
    • How Mitchell feels about only diverting one of the planes on 9/11.
    Mitchell Hundred: If I were a real hero, I would have been here in time to stop the first plane.
    • How Mitchell feels about not being able to save his handler and wife from the effects of the superpower shard.
    • How Mitchell feels about a lot of things, including his career as a superhero.
  • Fallen Hero: Hundred turns into one in the final issue. After a whole series of heroism and trying to do the right thing, it's revealed that Hundred wasn't as clean as he presented himself, and by the end he's just another ruthless politician doing bad things to further his career.
  • Flashback: Mitchell tells the story of his time as mayor as a flashback, so his flashbacks to his time as the Great Machine are flashbacks within flashbacks.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the first things we see Hundred do is turn the tables on Trip, trying to blackmail him by threatening to blackmail the politician, then threatens to murder the man. It seems to be establishing Hundred as shrewd and tough on corruption, but it also foreshadows the final revelation that Hundred is crooked and murderous himself.
    • Jack Pherson says that he could bring the city to its knees by talking to a single species. Much later, the city is wracked by a sudden rash of rat attacks.
    • Mitchell mentions the Beach Pneumatic Transit beneath New York City. It plays a part in later events.
    • Bradbury riffs on Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love", saying he'd do anything for Mitchell, but not that. He later reveals that he's in love with Mitchell.
  • Gilligan Cut: Used frequently.
    • In one instance, Hundred is described as a gentle soul. The next panel has Hundred angrily swearing about someone.
    • During the blackout, Hundred claims that New Yorkers now pull together during catastrophe in this post-9/11 world. The next panel is a violent confrontation between two New Yorkers.
  • Glowing Eyes: A sign of someone using their powers. Any wounds gained in the process of granting them powers glow as well.
  • Gorn: Lots of characters both minor and major die horribly gruesome deaths, and the artist is not shy about showing them off.
  • Government Procedural: Much of the plot revolves around Mitchell handling conventional challenges as mayor of NYC.
  • Gun Twirling: Mitchell Hundred does this in issue 35, even though he really should know better.
  • The Handler: An NSA cryptologist is assigned to be Mitchell's handler as his powers are regarded as a national secret. It doesn't work out well. Who knew keeping an alien artifact and source of Mitchell's powers would cause insanity? To be fair, his handler was also adversely affected about the Sept 11 attacks and blames Mitch for not stopping the Pentagon attack.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Bradbury. The amount of times he deliberately comments on women or acts homophobic start to add up after a while.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Asked by Mitchell to Kremlin regarding Suzanne's files. In a rare lack of genre savviness Kremlin admits that he hadn't.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mitchell and Bradbury. Until it's subverted in the final issue, when Bradbury reveals that he's been in love with Mitchell the whole time.
  • Hidden Depths: While in Italy, Bradbury reveals that he can speak Italian, which surprises Mitchell.
  • Historical In-Joke: Eliot Spitzer is said to be a shoo-in for the governor's seat unless he's caught in bed with a dead girl or live boy. In fact, Spitzer did win the governorship but left office soon after amid a sex scandal (with live girls).
  • Iconic Item: Mitchell's tiepin, fashioned in his trademark gear symbol, appears to be this in the beginning of the series... right up until Kremlin reveals that it's actually a listening device to keep tabs on Mitchell. He promptly throws it away.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Mitchell describes temporarily losing his powers as being cured.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Hundred asserts this as his reason for not wanting to kill Pherson. Kremlin strongly disagrees with the trope, and Hundred eventually agrees.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Mitchell is immune to Suzanne's powers, and since his mother is similarly resistant it's implied this may be either genetic or a result of being taught by Martha to be strong-willed.
  • Invisible President:
    • Bush is discussed, but never featured.
    • Then-current Governor of New York George Pataki is never seen or referred to by name, in contrast to numerous other New York politicians. He's represented by his underling Trip and always referred to simply as the governor. This is probably because the governor tries to blackmail Mitchell in the first issue.
  • Jury Duty: Mitchell gets a summons at one point. While he could get out of it with ease, he figures doing his civic duty will get some good press. True to his luck, it turns into a hostage situation.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Kremlin, just as it appears he's admitting that his threats were empty all along.
  • Kryptonite Ring: Mitchell invented two which scramble his powers, and gives one apiece to Kremlin and Bradbury. They're both duds.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Author Avatars of Vaughan and Harris appear as comic book makers applying to tell The Great Machine's story. Harris's alter-ego starts doodling the two of them, suggesting that they appear as side-characters in the comic book, but Vaughan's alter-ego nixes the idea, saying that he doesn't want to get into that fourth wall stuff like Grant Morrison.
    • Hundred notes that most comic books never end, which prevents them from turning into tragedies. Ex Machina does end, and it's quite a Downer Ending.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: Mitchell saving the second tower is the big reveal at the end of the first issue.
  • Logical Weakness: Mitchell is vulnerable to weapons that aren't machines. Knives and bows are too simple to communicate with, and basic bombs are just chemicals waiting to be mixed.
  • Magical Negro: Averted and Lampshaded by Dave.
    Dave: Sorry sir but if your looking for a magical negro to be all "lordy lord I can help the master speak to the spirits...". you're wasting the wrong terrible mind.
  • Married to the Job: Interpreted in-universe as a Transparent Closet for Hundred.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The juror who claims to have similar powers to Mitchell may just be insane, but in a much later issue it's confirmed that at least part of his story is true.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mitchell describes his last name, "Hundred" as an "integer". It's displayed as "100" when spoken by members of the other dimension. The number, composed only of binary digits, fits with Mitchell's technological theme.
    • Kremlin's nickname highlights his Soviet Russian background, which drives his desire to push Mitchell into superheroism.
  • Mind Control: The White gives Suzanne this power, and this is possibly how Mitchell won the election through the White Box.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Hundred never openly pursues anyone of either gender, and not for lack of opportunities. He does go on a date with Suzanne, but gets accused of doing so only to further his political clout, and then does not call her back for months. His lack of romance is so noticeable that people frequently wonder whether he's gay, to which he never responds. It's ultimately a part of his characterization as being more like a machine than a man.
  • Motif: Mitchell and machines.
    • He can talk to machines and uses his superpower to become a superhero called the Great Machine.
    • He is described as emotionally distant and robotic, with a ridiculous work ethic, more like a machine than a man.
    • He frequently talks about wanting to "fix" abstract things, such such as the "political machine" of the nation.
    • Mitchell says he believes in God as the Great Architect.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: The source of Mitchell's powers is a legion of interdimensional invaders who colonise worlds.
  • Mundane Utility: Mitchell often uses his abilities to do things he could do almost as easily by hitting buttons. He describes using his powers to change TV channels while holding the remote as a "new low in sloth".
  • Mysterious Backer: Hundred's patrons. Their true appearance is only shown in the penultimate issue, and discerning their motivations makes up much of the plot.
  • Never Found the Body: Kremlin repeatedly insists that they can't write off Pherson as dead, even though he was last seen in an exploding building.
  • Never Suicide: No one ever finds out that Hundred used his powers to murder Kremlin in the last issue. They were alone when it happened, the body wasn't found until several days later, and nobody even bothered with an investigation.
  • No-Respect Guy: Hundred during his days as the Great Machine. Flashbacks often show the people Hundred tries to save or apprehend treating him with mockery at best and utter disdain at worst. It doesn't help that Hundred's activities as the Great Machine leave collateral damage that impact hundreds of New Yorkers such as screwing over commuters when he inadvertently shut down the LIRR line for hours when he tried to stop some young daredevils from "riding" the line by standing on the train for the entire train's trip.
  • No-Sell: Suzanne thinks she has the advantage over Hundred as she's grabbed one of the "jammers" he helped develop that could block his powers. During their fight, she uses it against him and it doesn't work. Mitchell then reveals the "jammers" are just old garage door openers he painted over.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot!: Pherson uses his parrot as a spy, ordering it to follow Hundred and then commanding it to repeat what it heard.
  • Old Master: Kremlin.
  • Only Six Faces: It's pretty clear that Harris draws from personally staged photographs of real-life models. Because he uses those models' faces as bases, and re-uses models, many characters look very similar. For example, the random junkie in "Fact or Fiction" happens to look exactly like a younger, brown-haired Kremlin.
  • Painting the Medium: Text color is used to indicate when people are using their commanding voice. Each powered voice has its own color depending on what it controls.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Pherson's parrot granted him his powers, as it repeated one of the Great Machine's commands to him causing a seizure.
  • President Superhero: Mitchell gets a vision telling him he'll be president one day and ends the series as vice president.
  • Power Trio: Kremlin, Bradbury and Mitchell.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Mitchell suffers these if he overexerts himself. It happened while redirecting the second plane, and when he had to plaster an SOS message across Times Square from across town.
  • Religious Horror: Mitchell's 'benefactors' often present themselves through religious imagery.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The final issue's revelation that Mitchell is not a moral figure we all took him for makes reading all his actions in the series in a brand new light.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What is the bottomless pit in Iraq, and how is it connected to Mitchell? At first it seems to be part of Easy Benson's crazy ramblings but much later Agent Warren is investigating it for real. Mitchell hangs up on her before she can share any information, and we never hear of it again.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Subverted. Hundred grabs the police commissioner and flies her to a rooftop to have a private talk with her. Kidnapping a police officer turns out to be as bad an idea as you'd expect. Rather than hear him out, she immediately attacks him.
  • Secret Identity: Mitchell went public when he ran for mayor. However, most of the details of his abilities are still secret, as a matter of national security.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • When Vaughan's Author Avatar shows up, he immediately starts babbling trivia, causing Harris to tell him to shut up. Vaughan is making fun of his Signature Style of inserting trivial facts in his writing.
    • When Harris shows January his drawings, they both agree that writers do the least work on a comic, but get the most credit.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In a moment of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, Vaughn's Author Avatar states that he doesn't want to include an Author Avatar like Grant Morrison does.
    • Mitchell gives Journal the title of "Special Advisor on Youth Affairs". This happens to be the same title that Walter F. Starbuck held as part of the Nixon administration in the novel Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut, and BKV is known to be a fan of Vonnegut's work.
    • Mitchell's parents are called Thomas and Martha, like Batman's.
    • One of the alternate-world Mitchells is clearly a version of the Rocketeer, and another has powers similar to Superman.
    • Bradbury's name is obviously a reference to science fiction author Ray Bradbury. One character asks if he's related, and Bradbury retorts that he hates science fiction.
    • There are many references to Superman:
      • A comic where Superman builds a robot has plot significance
      • Leto uses Superman's death (and Steel picking up the slack) to justify becoming a superhero in the absence of the Great Machine.
      • Mitchell quotes Superman: The Movie at Journal's hospital bedside.
    • Candy is a fan of Third Watch, which eventually has plot significance.
    • When Mitchell snaps, "I am what I fucking am!" he gets called Popeye.
    • Mitchell asks an exterminator if he'll demand payment or steal all the city's children. The exterminator doesn't get it.
    • Bradbury quotes Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love".
    • The Hundred from the other dimension quotes "I Am the Walrus".
  • Shown Their Work: The work is filled with details of New York City culture and other topics. Vaughan and Harris' Author Avatars even lampshade it when Harris tells Vaughan not to spout any more useless "factoids".
    • One of Mitchell's staffers references the covering of the Spirit of Justice statue in 2002.
    • A woman in the subway references the Cost Revs graffiti campaign of the mid-90s.
    • Zahala's Roma cousin says in untranslated Romani, "I'll shit on you!" and then "It is God who brought you".
    • Mitchell's lawyer birdwatches for Pale Male.
    • Mitchell's jury duty plot arc references Rudy Guliani becoming the first sitting mayor to attend jury duty in 1999.
    • In 1986, Leto is a member of the Guardian Angels.
    • When the police commissioner calls in the National Guard to keep order in a peace rally, Mitchell references "Kent State".
    • An attempted assassin references the biblical king Uzziah, a prideful maker of machines.
    • When Mitchell contemplates legalizing marijuana in New York City, the police commissioner references the La Guardia Committee, which debunked many marijuana myths in the 1940s.
    • Mitchell mentions tangling with Jack Pherson at Fresh Kills.
    • Mitchell complains that his staff leaked information to "1010 Wins", a New York City news radio station.
    • The NYC mayor's residence Gracie Mansion gets a lot of focus.
    • Mitchell visits the Vatican Observatory and discusses the history of the Catholic Church's relationship with astronomy, including how a Catholic priest originated the Big Bang theory.
    • Monica says that she climbed the "Magic Line" in Yosemite National Park without equipment to establish how capable she is. This is a real climbing route that has only been successfully climbed once, with preplaced equipment.
    • When discussing a surge in rat attacks, Hundred's staff references the rat floods of Mautam.
    • The Beach Pneumatic Transit plays a part in the plot.
    • The 1979 rat attack on Ann Street is given as a precedent for the unusual rat attacks happening around the city.
    • Kremlin tells Mrs. Hundred that Ted Kennedy would never be president because he didn't go back for the girl.
    • Travelers from other dimensions mention branes, a concept from string theory related to higher dimensions.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Constantly played with throughout the series, before hitting hard on the cynical side of things in the ending.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Jack Pherson, as the wielder of the "Purple".
  • Springtime for Hitler The Lincoln Painting in the first arc.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Trouble.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Kremlin sees the Great Machine as Mitchell's true calling, and resents him trading it for being "just another cog". As the series progresses, his obsession grows to the point that he tries to sabotage Mitchell's career, all out of the belief that he knows what's best for Mitchell better than Mitchell himself.
  • Start of Darkness: A two-issue bonus series shows how Jack Pherson got his powers as well as how he ultimately died.
  • Straight Gay: Bradbury is a manly man, but also gay.
  • Strawman Political: Notable in its aversion. As with Vaughan's other work, such as Y: The Last Man, no point of view is reduced to a strawman. While Mitchell expresses strong support of his own agenda, it's interesting that some topics, such as school vouchers, receive such a spirited argument against Mitchell's views that the character doesn't always seem to be speaking Vaughan's personal beliefs.
  • Stylistic Suck: The dialogue in Harris' sample drawings is cheesy. He's an artist, not a writer, after all.
  • Sucksessor: Automaton. Leto is a loser and mentally disturbed.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: Mitchell has a collection of bizarre artifacts from the various villains he's encountered.
  • Super-Strength: Suzanne Padilla gives herself super strength with the white voice.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy:
    • At first the fireman killer seems to be telling his philosophy to a lover, until it's revealed that he's speaking to the oxygen tank that he uses to masturbate.
    • In the Book Ends, Hundred tells his life story to his jetpack.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Parodied in Mitchell's training exercise. The fight scene is filled with expository dialogue and Bond One Liners. Afterwards, Kremlin chastises Mitchell for taking the time to spout witticisms rather than finish the fight.
  • Technical Pacifist: Mitchell.
  • Technology Levels: Played with. Mitchell takes an arrow from a would-be assassin, after trying unsuccessfully to "jam" it. His powers don't affect anything without mechanical parts.
  • Technopath: Mitchell can not only hear machines "talking", he can command them to do things. And not just electronics, either — anything with moving mechanical parts counts as a machine to him, to the point that only very basic tech like longbows work on him. However, certain types of machines are less receptive to his commands.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kremlin and January are trying to end Mitchell's political career, but they're prone to squabbling because of their vastly different larger goals: January wants Mitchell to suffer, while Kremlin wants Mitchell to return to crimefighting.
  • There Is Another: Two of the first few story arcs feature this as a plot point. It turns out that Connie Georges and Easy Benson can both control machines too, but neither of them can control their powers as well as Mitch can, and their powers end up driving them insane. There's also the revelation that Mitch's old enemy Jack Pherson was another man who got "speech powers", though he controlled animals instead of machines.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: It's shown that machines have no qualms about lying to Mitchell, especially about the presence of any hypothetical bullets in any hypothetical chambers.
  • We Can Rule Together: Jack Pherson originally wanted to join forces with Mitchell, but Mitchell had nothing of it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: After getting the violet voice, Jack Pherson can "hear" animals and takes this to mean that all animals are sentient creatures. He feels morally obligated to "liberate" them from humanity. Hundred is only immune to this line of reasoning because the things he hears are machines, which are obviously not intelligent.
  • Wham Episode: The last issue, in which Mitchell reveals that he's been less than moral all along and takes a solid step over the line into villainy. The threat of the Makers is implied to still be present.
  • Wham Line: "I'm a politician. I lie". Hundred reveals that he's been playing even his closest friends for fools.
  • Wham Shot: The first issue ends with a splash panel of the site of the World Trade Center, showing that one of the two Twin Towers is still standing—setting up the comic's Alternate History setting in pretty memorable fashion.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mitchell gets a lot of them, including criticism of the collateral damage he causes while fighting crime as the Great Machine as well as his various mayoral actions. It all leads up to Mitchell turning full villain in the end.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: People comment on the names of Journal and January.
  • Would Hit a Girl: After getting extorted for a kiss, Hundred cold-cocks Monica in the face. As she lays bloody and unconscious on the ground, he calls for a medic... for his hand.
  • Writers Suck: Harris and January talk about how all comic writers do is "put words in the", but get credited first because "it's political".
  • Your Head Asplode: Suzanne crushes Mrs. Hundred's head so violently that it explodes.

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