You Should Be Reading More Brian K. Vaughan

Possible liberaltarian Brian K. Vaughan’s superb politics-n-superheroes series, Ex-Machina, is scheduled to end later this summer, which means that now is definitely the time to catch up (or get started) if you’re behind. I’ll probably have more to say on the series later, but for now I just want to offer a recommendation: Vaughan, who was a staff writer on Lost for several seasons, writes impressively tight dialog and really knows how to build compelling mysteries out of fragmented timelines — but he’s a lot more interested in payoffs than Lost‘s creators were, and Ex-Machina looks headed for one of the all-time great extended serial finishes.

If you’re already caught up and need a Vaughan fix to tide you over, it’s worth going back and checking out his kid-superhero series, Runaways. In theory, it’s a kiddie book. But while it stays PG-rated, it also works well enough to hold the attention of older readers. It was smart enough, in fact, to earn the admiration of Joss Whedon, who, after Vaughan’s initial run ended, picked up the series for a short arc. My impression is that there are a number of Whedon fans who read (and write for) TAS, and Runaways, like most of Vaughan’s work, hits a lot of the Whedon-fan buttons: well-defined characters, smart dialog, zippy pacing that never feels rushed, and a steady stream of expertly crafted reversals. It’s not groundbreaking, for-the-ages stuff, exactly, but it never feels lazy, and unlike so much of the crud that populates the world of genre fiction these days, it’s almost always genuinely satisfying.