Saturday, February 25, 2017

Astro City 100!

Astro City turns one hundred. It's been a fascinating trip. I well remember as a kid with my mitts on the one hundredth issue of Fantastic Four, then Spider-Man and later The Avengers calculating that it would take a monthly comic a little over eight years to achieve this milestone. To my boyhood self eight years seemed an eternity, now it seems like a pittance. It's taken Astro City considerably longer to hit this mark and it's done it in a weird and winding way. I wrote about Astro City when it returned to Vertigo several years ago and relaunched yet again with a new number one issue. I like what I said then, so I represent it here.

The first issue from Image Comics hit the stands in 1995 and ironically helped break the hot hot fever of horribly written comics with infantile artwork. The adventures, misadventures, insights, and reflections which comprise these beautiful comics have been gracing the stands off and on since. Image, Wildstorm, and DC have published these graceful deconstructed yarns about what it must be like to live in a world filled up with superheroes. Perhaps most famous for the Alex Ross covers, these are well-wrought comics which touch the heart and tickle the mind.

I'm not going to reprise the saga here by any means, but Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have told some utterly touching stories over the years about regular folks who just happen to have superpowers or who just happen to know someone who does. These are by and large gentle stories about all too mortal human beings trying to find a way forward in a world that doesn't always make the most sense. It's just like real life, but more colorful on occasion. That's the real secret of Astro City, that despite the likes of Samaritan, Silver Agent, The Confessor, and more, the world is very much like the one outside most of our windows. It's world of hard choices and difficult decisions made by regular folks with limited information and imperfect understanding. It's just like here and now.

It seems I always balk a bit when Busiek revives the series, but for whatever reasons, I always relent and dive in again. I did this time too, and enjoyed the first several issues of the new run immensely. We've met many folks, but most charmingly an older woman with some cool superpowers who just wants to live a relatively normal life, and a beautiful  and brave young woman who cherishes being close to the action by working in the communications network for the superheroes. Whether it's cosmic threats or crumb bum crooks on the prowl, Astro City has its share.

That was me three years ago. One of the reasons, the main one I guess that the series has taken this long to reach this milestone is that Busiek's health remains a bit fragile. Nevertheless he presses ahead and joined by Brent Anderson and increasingly other talented artists, the series continues to impress. For more go here. I'll keep getting it as long as it comes out. I'm a fan for life, or eight years which ever comes first.

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  1. That woman painted on the plane's side was taken from this pulp cover...

    1. Neat. Thanks for the info and the link.

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