by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, & Alex Ross
Not only does Astro City tell great stories and build a massive world and mythos that has grown tremendously over the years, but it also does a great job of dissecting the small details that we take for granted in the genre of superhero comics. Everyone says they want super powers but this issue really examines that thought and takes a realistic approach to what you gain and lose when you reach for power, change and recognition.
This issue really focused on Thatcher Jerome who controls the city’s docks and main river for the mob but he disguises it like most mobsters as being a legitimate businessman. Busiek knows that even though the city itself is the main character of Astro City, it’s all of the people who inhabit it that really give these stories heart. Everyone has a story to tell and Thatcher Jerome is one of them. Even though he is a criminal by all means and is using the appearance of the mysterious Ambassador to his own financial advantages he still has a moral compass that he seems to deal with regularly. Once he stumbles on an opportunity to gain superpowers he is torn between whether the power would be worth losing all of the things he loves and takes for granted in his life. This story was quite deep and satisfying but still left some open threads that surely will show up later down the line in this series.
Consistency is a very common theme is Astro City through both its storytelling and its art. Anderson’s art is truly stunning in every issue; he is able to embody so many styles and combine them into his own unique brand of art that has become the tent pole for this series. Using art that feels like a mix of the best parts of silver, bronze and modern age comics really helps build the Astro City universe and creating their own heroes/villains who are both familiar analogs and original characters.
Astro City makes you care about characters, not use them as a plot point or a main characters crux; they all have their own stories and they each have a characteristic that most readers can relate to. You don’t even notice a lack of action or an over-arching plot that may have taken a backseat one issue and then come front and center the next. This team of creators makes a story about a city that is told through all of the people who inhabit it, no matter how big or small their contributions may seem.