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Deus Ex Machina / Comic Books

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  • Hellblazer: Played literally in the series. One of John Constantine's signature and most powerful magics is synchronicity wave travelling, an ability he inherited from his bloodline as the Laughing Magician. This allowed him to literally make his own luck, reshape the battlefield to his own accordance, and be in the right place at the right time. It's very helpful when the demon Nergal tries to hit a dazed Constantine and his wife on the road (who have just finished their time-travelling adventure). John's wave travelling automatically sets in, and the car suddenly skedaddles and falls over a cliff.
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  • Parodied in Phil Foglio's mini-series Angel and the Ape, where Sam Simian works as a comicbook artist drawing a series called "Deus-ex-Machina Man".
  • Used in Grant Morrison's run of Animal Man. Morrison himself shows up in the final issue of his run, titled "Deus Ex Machina", to explain to Buddy that he's just a comic book character, with no free will at all. Buddy gets pretty angry, for good reason, but eventually calms down, and asks about his family, who were all killed. Morrison decides that he can't come up with a good enough reason to keep them dead, so he just tells Buddy to go home, where he wakes up, and it was all a dream. But Morrison's run was all about toying around with the fourth wall, so it doesn't really come out of left field as one might expect from the above description.
  • Batman often solves situations by just happening to have a gadget on hand. Back when he killed people, Batman once confronted a Doctor Doom who threw a grenade at him. Batman then shielded his and Robin's body with this. It's not even a gadget.
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  • Bio Apocalypse has a literal example of this, with God sending the Angel of Death to abort a 50 mile tall fetus, after the space fleet failed to destroy it.
  • In a certain The Creeper story Ryder's psyche gets unbalanced which releases Creeper as a separate creature and several other Creeper-like monsters to plague the city and this problem is suddenly resolved when due to some sort of metaparadox a god-like giant Creeper from different time and planet emerges from the original Creeper and collects all escaped monsters. He stores them inside the Creeper again and makes Ryder and Creeper shake hands and make up their internal fight.
  • The short Donald Duck comic Danger On Mount Flushmore tells of Huey, Dewey and Louie out on a mission for the Junior Woodchucks, when they run into Tachyon Farflung who puts them under his spell with the new hypnotism helmet he has just invented, telling them about how he'll use it to force Scrooge to hand over his money to him. Their solution? "Us Junior Woodchucks are trained to resist hypnosis!"
  • Utterly lampshaded in Fables spinoff Jack of Fables, whose characters include the Literals, Anthropomorphic Personifications of literary devices:
    • Just as Jack is about to be killed by the Knife-Johns with no apparent way out, Dex - the AP of the Deus Ex Machina - turns up out of nowhere and proclaims that the Knife-Johns all unexpectedly died of instant pneumonia. Which they do. Just to rub it in, he's accompanied by the AP of the Fourth Wall who's been narrating the story.
    • Lampshaded again in the Great Fables Crossover by Science Fiction, the AP of the science fiction genre, who proclaims that the Fables will be wiped out by a surprise legion of Nebularian attack cruisers, because otherwise, how would they win in the end? Dex also makes an appearance to mock the trope, popping up several times throughout the story to inform anyone who will listen that he won't do anything yet, and only showing up to save the day when it is decided that it is impossible to permanently stop the Big Bad.
  • Superman builds a literal Machina with the Miracle Machine in Final Crisis.
  • In the Gotham Central story arc Dead Robin, the MCU needed to contact Batman. One problem though: they no longer had the Bat Signal. Then it was revealed they had a never mentioned, Ted Kord created, high tech portable Bat Signal. Josie Mac lampshaded this by saying it was very "Convenient".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Issue 8. The protagonists cannot use the Elements of Harmony against the villain, but never fear, as their friendship suddenly and arbitrarily "lights them up from the inside" for no reason whatsoever, which proves just as effective.
    • In the end of the "Reflections" arc, the heroes have managed to cast a spell that will permanently imprison the alternate-universe evil Celestia in crystal, but it will inevitably imprison the good Celestia too. All seems lost... until the good King Sombra saves the day by draining the "evil magic" from his universe's Celestia and Luna, thus making them non-villainous. The "evil magic" was never mentioned before, let alone the fact that he could do something like that.
  • The Powerpuff Girls #18: When Bubbles misses her cue in a battle routine against a monster caterpillar because she's protecting a butterfly from getting its wings wet, Townsville comes down on her for it. But later, the caterpillar becomes a monster butterfly and after beating the bejeezus out of Blossom and Buttercup, Bubbles zooms in and defeats the monster by getting its wings wet and it explodes.
  • The Sam & Max: Freelance Police comics by Steve Purcell have had the titular characters narrowly avoiding death using Deus Ex Machina on several occasions for comedic effect. Said events would pretty always receive a Lampshade Hanging by Sam and Max, who would comment on how absurdly convenient these narrow saves tended to be.
    • In the very first story, Max is saved from ritual sacrifice when the guy holding the dagger spontaneously combusts. There's also Sergeant Blip and the Rubber Pants Commandos, they are almost a Deus Ex Machina incarnated; they only appear to save Sam & Max of whatever. Almost every time without an explanation.
    • Taken to the extreme in the Hit the Road comic that the Lucasarts game was based on. Sam and Max narrowly avoid being dunked in scalding hot wax by nefarious pirates by Ratso, Sam and Max' octopus pal.
  • Parodied in the third volume of Scott Pilgrim (even more hilarious when you realize it was actually a Chekhov's Gun):
    Scott Pilgrim - "I can't even get near him! I need some kind of... like... last minute, poorly-set-up Deus Ex Machina!!"
    Vegan Policeman (to the villain) - "FREEZE! Vegan police. You were caught eating gelato this morning."
  • The Marvel Character, The Sentry, is so powerful (he had to create a nemesis from his own being in order to counter balance his abilities), that formal story arcs are no longer written about him. Instead, he is used as a "hero" ex machina, bursting in at the critical moment to save other Marvel characters. He is brilliant in that he is an in universe hero, who is expected to be there to save the day.
  • Lampshaded word for word in the Spider-Man comic "Reign", where an old-ified Spidey is saved from the now-registered-heroes Sinister Six, having been sicced on him by Venom in the first place (LONG story, and It Makes Sense in Context), by the disembodied tentacles of the long-dead Doctor Octopus.
  • Done absolutely straight in an issue of Namor. He died, and Poseidon came out of nowhere and brought him back to life. Rather than hiding this issue away, they slapped a special holographix cover on it to bring in new readers.
  • The Flemish comic series Suske en Wiske has as one of the main characters Jethro, an unbeatable modernized cave-man. He often drops in at the end of the adventure, often literally ex machina, being dropped off by a plane or by some kind of Applied Phlebotinum to solve the situation the heroes are stuck in.
  • The Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics were a little too fond of having the day saved by some random (and often unannounced) outside element instead of letting the Turtles themselves contribute to the solution of the plot. Occasionally, though, it was put to very good effect, such as Renet's unexpected appearance in Juliet's Revenge or Splinter being able to send a devastating psychic strike at the bad guy from several miles away in the last part of the River trilogy.
  • In the "Caged Angels" arc of Thunderbolts, a group of telepaths mange to infiltrate Thunderbolts Mountain and wreak havoc by mentally controlling the team. The telepaths are finally defeated when Bullseye (who was critically injured in the previous arc and hadn't shown up at all for several issues) wakes up in the hospital and randomly decides to do target practice in the holding cells. On top of which, for some sudden handwaved reason, said telepaths couldn't control his mind. Note that Bullseye is Badass Normal and until then did not have any kind of immunity from Psychic Powers. Possibly explained due to the fact many of Bullseye's bones including spine and skull are reinforced with strips of adamantium (think a lesser version of Wolverine's procedure). This could account for the immunity. Though if Wolverine isn't immune to Psychic Powers when he has an adamantium skull, then Bullseye shouldn't be either.
  • Tintin was saved many, many times by a Deus Ex Machina. To the point where he really should look into playing the lottery.
    • Tintin In America alone must have set some kind of record:
      • Tintin is dropped into a room full of toxic gas, collapses and is thrown in the lake: The Mooks accidentally used knockout gas. The cold water woke Tintin up.
      • Tintin and Snowy fall off a cliff: he falls on a branch sturdy enough to support his and Snowy's weight yet capable of breaking their fall. Said branch is also conveniently next to an opening on the cliff face that leads to a cave to the surface.
      • Tintin is Chained to a Railway: he is saved when a passenger on the oncoming train pulls the emergency brake for a completely frivolous reason. As the newspaper headlines put it: "MIRACULOUS ESCAPE!"
      • The Dragon uses explosives to create an avalanche on the cliff Tintin is climbing: he finds a depression in the cliff to take cover in. This one is a bit milder, but a few pages later:
      • Tintin is dropped into an industrial meat grinder: the oblivious factory workers go on strike and stop the machines at that precise moment.
      • Tintin has weights tied to his feet and is thrown in the lake: the weights were inexplicably switched with wooden hollow weights used by a random fraudulent strong man act.
    • Taken to new heights in Flight 714 where after a dastardly hijack-revenge plot, Tintin and Co. are saved by telepathic space men, of all things. To be fair, the existence of aliens and the fact they would go to the saucer was said by their human contact some pages earlier.
    • This is probably a good time to point out that serials like Tintin often use deus ex machina because nearly every installment ends with a cliffhanger meant to keep the readers interested in the story. To keep the plot going, these moments of tension need to be resolved quickly.
  • In an early story in the Marvel Transformers Generation 1 comic, all the Autobots but Ratchet have been killed by Shockwave, who has gone on to seize command of the Decepticons. Megatron has found Ratchet and is just about to destroy him when Shockwave sends a message ordering him to drop what he's doing and bring him Optimus Prime's head. This gives Ratchet just enough time to offer Megatron a deal...
  • Justified by the Time Travel plot in Universal War One: the heroes are saved by invincible warriors coming from a civilization they will create in the past. It is one of the very few examples of a plot-relevant deus ex machina.
  • Lampshaded, referenced by name, and eventually Subverted in Watchmen when Dr. Manhattan appears following his Deus Exit Machina so that Laurie can "Try to convince [him] to save the world."
    Dr. Manhattan: Now, I believe we have a conversation scheduled.
    Laurie: God, Yes. Yes, I was just thinking... But Jon, how did you know? I need to see you, you appear... I mean, it's all so Deus Ex Machina...
    Dr. Manhattan: "The God out of the machine." Yes. Yes, I suppose it is...
  • W.I.T.C.H. had one in the third arc, when the Oracle stepped in to stop the Interpol from finding out the girls' secret, and even said what he was doing, calling the trope by name. Then he had to explain that no, he wasn't God, just an observer that usually doesn't intervene but that just for once did an exception.
  • Papyrus is notorious for this, sometimes bordering to Ass Pull territory. The Egyptian gods are sometime responsible, other it's some unforeseen factors. Some examples:
    • Papyrus is turned into a Beast Man. Théti-Chéri appeal to the gods so they can restore Papyrus back to human form. The gods demand something valuable in exchange. Théti-Chéri says she's willing to sacrifice her own life. Papyrus is restore to human and Théti-Chéri has been released from the gods with no consequences to her.
    • Papyrus challenges the god Sobek. If Papyrus succeed in surprising the Crocodile god, he will win the challenge. And he did, because his hair had turned white from an precedent ordeal and Sobek was completely caught off-guard. Sobek conceded victory and Papyrus's hair was restored to black.
    • A minotaur was about to devour Papyrus. He's stopped and eaten by the Labyrinth (which is actually a giant coral reef with Combat Tentacles.) Somehow, the minotaur carelessly forgot the make-up of the lair he's been living-in for generations.
    • The Gods erase everyone's memories and Status quo is restored.
    • Big Damn Heroes moments from the Pharaoh and his army or some unseen ally/friend who called for backup.
    • Papyrus becomes the avatar of the Master of crocodiles. By sacrificing his eyes, Papyrus has the powers to save of all of Egypt from vast armies of Libyan invaders. After the Master leaves Papyrus's body, it seems Papyrus will be blinded forever, but when he drops the Master's feather, his sights are magically restored.
    • A miraculous unguent is found inside the pommel of Papyrus' sword and is strong enough to fully heal someone. Papyrus had the sword since the beginning of the series and accidentally found the unguent (dozen of stories later) at the most convenient time.
  • In the first Grandville, Archie (a Brit) has discovered that this universe's equivalent of 9/11 was a plot by not only the government but the Emperor himself blamed on British radicals to justify a war with them for their oil (subtle!). What does he do? Why, he murders most of the cabinet and the emperor himself with an explosives-packed airship, thereby creating the very problem he was trying to avert. Now, France obviously has a reason to declare war on Britain...or they would, if they didn't somehow have an instant, bloodless revolution from fascist dictatorship to socialism—also a dictatorship, but sharing an ideology with Britain. Because that's going to go over well with a massive French Empire that apparently includes Germany as well, and nobody at all would resist it...
  • This was a major criticism of the Will of Charles Xavier arc of Uncanny X-Men. After several months of Arc Fatigue, as the storyline overran three major events (Original Sin — for which it was a tie-in — Death of Wolverine, and Axis), the entire plot was resolved by time-travel preventing the entire thing from happening in the first place.
  • The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: When the Hunter is about to strike down Ichabod (again), "God" intervenes to put them both into different panels that creates an invisible barrier between them from the characters' perspective.
  • The story "The Two-Headed Thing!" from Strange Tales #95. The cover promises that the story will have a "shock ending"... and indeed it does: at the very end, the monster is randomly struck by lightning and dies.
  • Whoo, boy. Secret Empire hit this with Captain America #25 and Secret Empire #8. Before this period, the heroes were on the verge of losing. Steve Rogers and HYDRA have effectively made the rebellion a non-entity and, even with Sam Wilson stepping back up to the plate as Captain America, things are still grim. Luck of lucks, the heroes liberate New Atllian and one of the Inhumans rescued is a man named Brian Mc Allister, who was given the Embarrassing Nickname "Barf", who can upchuck certain items. One of those things he can upchuck? A Cosmic Cube shard, one of the things our heroes need to save Steve and return him to normal. Then the heroes decide to have Sam fly up as far as he can so everyone who wants to be free and pour in their hope so they can use the cube to wish for everyone to be free. It looks like it doesn't work until... oh, wait, Quasar's alive and kicking and she can destroy the barrier surrounding Earth now. And Maria Hill's found Blackout so she can kill him and release Manhattan from its grip!
  • Discussed in Ultimate Vision. During the battle, Vision wishes that she was saved somehow, but accepts that "strict logic does not admit of angels". And, although Sam shows up, he was a Big Damn Heroes reinforcement, not a game-breaking intervention, and the threat of Gah Lak Tus remained.