by Will Holden
Astro City is an independent superhero comic series from long time Marvel alum Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, perhaps best known for his art on X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. This series is an idiosyncratic glance into the titular Astro City and its many inhabitants. Add in Alex Ross’ covers and you have yourself a thoroughly winning combination.
Astro City is populated with many heroes, a large portion of which are facsimiles of popular heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Captain America. However, Astro City has the freedom to explore different areas of these heroes’ lives that the iconic characters they are based on generally can’t.
Having said that, the most endearing aspect of Astro City for me, is how often it puts the normal residents of Astro City into the spotlight. The reader gets to see the events from the point of view of your average person, not a common thing in Superhero stories. The real main character, though, is the city itself. We see Astro City and its populace throughout different time periods or from the differing perspectives of parts of the city, from old to new, rich to poor and so on.
When read in trade, Astro City takes on an anthology-esque vibe. The stories can vary from single issue, encapsulated tales to 2 volume epics drawing a big roster of Astro City’s characters. Occasionally the stories can be quiet affairs, one of my personal standout stories is about an ex-supercriminal named Steeljack. After spending many years in prison he is reformed and released only to find that there are very few places left in Astro City for an old crook with metal skin. The story follows Steeljack trying to form a new life while avoiding old colleagues and heroes alike. Equally, however, Astro City can also bring the action in good old fashioned punched-through-a-building style but is so varied no one style ever gets boring.
Also a man merges with his corgi to turn into an anthropomorphic dog hero character called G-Dog… should have opened with that.