Astro City #4
By Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson & Alex Ross
One could say that Astro City is a modern day cult classic. A series that has survived 3 publishers over 18 years has finally come back after a lengthy hiatus due to DC buying Wildstorm and writer Kurt Busiek having health issues. Issue four was released this week and it’s damn good to have Astro City back.
The thing that has separated Astro City from other superhero comics is that the city itself truly is the main character. Busiek has this amazing way of showing Astro City through the eyes of a wide range of citizens who inhabit it. Heroes, villains, civilians, visitors, all have a different story and experience and they also all reveal a little more about this amazing city in which they reside. This issue was quite unique because we follow the story of Martha “Sully” Sullivan who has telekinetic powers that she uses for special effects on TV and movies. Busiek writes about people who have these gifts but don’t fit in to the usual hero/villain stereotype. There is a great metaphor in this story that people always feel like they are wasting their potential in life because they aren’t famous or rich but sometimes you just need to be happy with what you have and comfortable with yourself; not everyone can be a star.
Anderson is such a perfect artist on these stories. He really nails the look and feel of a “mainstream” super-hero comic which really compliments Busiek’s stories since a lot of the supers in Astro City are analogs of similar heroes from the Big 2. The art also helps with the pacing because it makes the issue feel longer than it is but not in a way that feels dragged out; it’s smooth. I wonder if Anderson has fun designing new characters almost every issue or if it’s gotten harder over the years to come up with new characters. I loved the design of new villain Majordomo even if he was a buffoon. He has this look like he was pulled right from the New 52; you could almost imagine him on his own 3D lenticular cover. Speaking of covers, Ross is the covers master and his Astro City covers are some of his most fun to look at. You don’t need holograms to be wowed by Ross’s cover art.
This issue was probably the best one of the latest run and that says something because the last 2 issues were a very strong arc as well. The great thing about this series is you never know where the story will go next issue, it’s always a pleasant surprise. Astro City is also one of those series that you don’t really need to read previous issues to gain your bearings. You can usually pick up any issue and get an understanding of this world Busiek, Anderson & Ross have built. It has been a real pleasure to have Astro City back and anyone who hasn’t checked this series out should really give it a shot.