Kurt Busiek has still got it.
I read but didn’t love the Dark Age mini-series; too many of my favorites were off-screen. But they are back here in the new volume, along with fun new creations like American Chibi and Wolfspider. It’s odd, these characters haven’t appeared anywhere but in this title, but they’ve been around so long, seeing the Samaritan, MPH, and Winged Victory is pretty great.
The first issue gives us the Sandman-esque Broken Man. He opens the issue breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly. According to him, the reader is actually helping save the world by reading the first issue of Astro City! That’s a great idea, and the twist on the final page left me with a smile on my face. It’s an issue that keeps you thinking for a bit.
Issues 2&3 feature Marella Cowper, a phone bank operator for the Honor Guard. It’s a high-stress position, but one where Marella can do a lot of good. Busiek keeps the story nicely grounded on her, but still delivers some nice moments with the Guard members themselves, especially Cleopatra. It’s funny, but I almost wish Busiek could leave the “normal human” point of view a bit more; I’d love to see straight up super-heroics featuring these characters. Astro City always had a bit of a DC feel to it, so this could really scratch an itch for me these days!
One thing the series is lacking at this point is a strong antagonist. None of the villains in the first three issues have enough weight or danger to them to give any strong sense of suspense. The Honor Guard has the situation under control pretty much the whole time, so there is a bit of tension that is lacking.
Brent Anderson continues to deliver strong, emotional work as he has for years now. I love the new Wolfspider character, with his awesome jet-bike. I never realized quite how cool Cleopatra was until these issues either. She’s basically a female Thor, and Anderson really gives her the gravity and power she deserves.
I hate paying $3.99 for these issues that don’t even have a digital code, but now that I’m back, I don’t think I can leave Astro City again.
Astro City is a place where comics are GOOD.