Saw a clutch of the Astro City trade paperbacks while visiting Kinokuniya in Sydney*, and I simply couldn’t resist. Since Dark Age I’ve been starved of Astro City, and when I saw that Busiek, Anderson and Ross are relaunching Astro City in Vertigo, I knew I must get my hands on them.
So I completed my collection with Volumes 8 through 10, and boy was it worth it.
So firstly, this one. A collection of shorts, each allowing a more intimate peek at the various heroes that populate the place. A piece on Samaritan having an annual meeting with his nemesis, a newly graduated Astra from the famed First Family and her path onward to adulthood and what that may entail, a story on Beauty, the life-sized Barbie doll crime-fighting android and her search for her life’s meaning, and finally a story told from Silver Agent’s perspective before his fateful journey into oblivion.
Astro City stories are not strictly superhero stories. I could spin the spiel about what makes Astro City different, but you can read that for yourself. I like them because they go beyond the action, and delves a little deeper into the human component. No necessarily all about the heroes, but the people around them, and the people who live in Astro City. The repercussions as a result of the superhero activities and how they impact lives. I like that the stories seem to stay in memory longer than most stories do.
I finished this in one sitting. A long awaited return to a well loved place.
I will say something about Brent Anderson, though. There were various panels where I thought the art was poor. I don’t say this because I’ve enjoyed Astro City for many many years, and art is a department I don’t complain about (I do about the lack of stories about several characters I like, but hey). There were panels that I thought was rendered as though a character was dreaming, but honest to goodness it wasn’t, and it really was bad art. The fingers look arthritic, faces seemed squished, etc. Don’t know what happened there.
* I can confirm that the Kino in Sydney is the best bookstore I’ve ever been to. I love my KLCC Kino, but I love me some Orchard Road Kino too. And now superceded by this one. I’ve gone to most of the indie and chain bookstores in Sydney now, so I’d like to think I saw enough before I settled on Kino Sydney. The selection is huge and varied. I could spend days here.