If you’re old enough to have read Astro City you’re probably already going to read this series, but considering it ended in 1998 (and had a 16 issue run in 2003) you might be completely in the dark. I never read the series but could have, so you’re in luck. I’m going in blind, you’re going in blind, so is it good?
Astro City (2013-) #1 (Vertigo)
The issue opens with a purple skinned character talking to you, the reader, informing you that you’re directly affecting the comic within. His name is The Broken Man and he needs your help to get around the Oubor’s radar. He can hear video, radio and news but through the comic we can influence the story. There are no recaps or explanations to who any of the old characters are, but that’s okay, because there’s a new potential threat to Earth that’s all that matters.
After an intro talking directly to the readers we’re introduced to a new Astro City hero called American Chibi. She’s like an Astro Boy knockoff, complete with Anime style design. She’s used primarily to make the point that a bullheaded bruiser of a hero isn’t going to help when the big baddy shows up. Since she’s knew she sort of introduces us to the mainstay heroes, and again they aren’t going to be the ones that save us. Instead it’s a normal man with two daughters and only real claim to fame being the creation of a app that helps you get around superhero traffic.
I need to use “splammo” in regular day speech.
Writer Kurt Busiek frames this story incredibly well, with good pacing and an understanding of mixing action and exposition. Clearly the man has an incredible understanding of writing story, because not once does it overstay its welcome and there are plenty of touches of knowing winks at the reader. The fact that the purple skinned man who talks to the reader isn’t hammy but clever says a lot. Of all things in comics, a character that talks to the audience typically goes the eye rolling route, but work shere.
Hopefully he gives those back.
Brent Anderson does a great job on art. There isn’t any hyper detailed work going on, but the composition is key. When there are characters talking at the audience it’s incredibly important to ensure the story is coming out loud and clear and there isn’t a moment of confusion throughout. Considering the real hero being introduced is a normal man there’s quite a bit riding on Anderson conveying his heroic nature without powers and costumes. I think he succeeds.
No need to be rude!
- The “villain” is an interesting concept at work
- The narrator talking to the audience works
- Still a bit of confusion for anyone unfamiliar with the series
Ultimately this series is going to be enjoyed most by readers who have read all the Astro City books. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wish I knew who these heroes where and what type of world they live in. That said, it’s still a good ride and has plenty of interesting story elements that should capture any readers attention.
Is It Good?
Yes. When all is said and done this story will most likely sing to everyone and should inspire everyone to read all the Astro City books.
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