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    Reviews - Kurt Busiek's Astro City - TPB vol. 01

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Astro City - Life in the Big City Review - Norton7486
After reading the first volume of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City: Life in the Big City, it was easy for me to see something special evolving as I turned the pages. It’s presented as an anthology , each story introducing faces, places, and history of Astro City from different perspectives. It’s not so much about the daily heroics of the local superheroes, but what they are doing in their off-time and how they navigate their lives with everyday activities . It’s about the 2-bit hood and what his life is like after stumbling upon the identity of one of the superheroes. Every chapter is essentially a seperate story, each one adding to the scope and depth. You get the sense of it all tying in together and the more you read, the more the city comes alive with lore. Every part of the city has it’s own story evolving, some more intriguing than others, but when you think of it as a whole, is where it gets sold. You just want more.
Brent Andersons art took a bit for me to get used to. Not until I started to get a clearer picture of what Astro City was all about did I really begin to appreciate the art. There is a definite visual influence of silver age comics that may seem a little aged by today’s standards, but it all fits perfectly with Busiek’s modern, story driven, psychological style of writing. What you end up with is a meshing of comic ages that is extremely refreshing. Some characters seem very simplistic and odd at first. Take Jack-In-The-Box. He’s sort of like the Daredevil crimefighter, only appearing as a clown in tights travelling around with weird foot springs that launch him around and fist springs that launch out for various combat maneuvers. You’re given more of a perspective from the public’s view of him, which adds a lot of mystery to him, and it’s also like that with some of the other characters. You can reference elements of many different influences from other comics. Superman( Samaritan ), Daredevil ( Jack-In-The-Box ), Flash ( MPH ), Wonder Woman (Winged Victory ), The Fantastic Four ( The First Family ), The Spectre ( The Hanged Man ), The Justice League ( Honor Guard ), Captain America ( portrayed as 2 characters, Old Soldier and Silver Agent), but they are all, also, very different, their stories and histories woven with Busiek’s edgier style. Much the same can be said about some of the villains. Busiek writes at times with obvious silver age influences. One-liners in the heat of battle are plentiful and cheesy at times, and it works awesome in combination with the art.
I really enjoyed the pace of the book. It’s jam packed with lore and it’s presented without staying in one place for too long. The universe feels fresh, you don’t have decades of continuity to deal with, and the history and lore are presented swiftly. There’s a lot going on in Astro City and it’s fun to keep up with it all. I would say a unique blending of the Marvel and DC universes. There’s a lot of possible arcs that are foreshadowed, and that will keep me joyously reading the series. Busiek has made a niche of his own in the superhero genre. Any fan of the genre should get something out of Astro City. It would also make a great doorway for new comic readers because it doesn’t overwhelm you with years of continuity and lore.

Martin Collins

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