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Astro City #38 Review

Comic Books

Astro City #38 Review

It’s 1928 in Astro City which means the heroes are a little older, but are still simply the cat’s pajamas. An old timey feel to a group of brand new heroes with a jazz-centric heroine? Sign me up.

Astro City #38 (Vertigo Comics)

Astro City #38 Review

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So what’s it about? The Vertigo summary reads:

A look at 1930s Astro City, featuring Jazzbaby, the Cloak of Night, the Blasphemy Boys and more, as we delve into the secrets of the Oubor and the Broken Man’s decades-long war against it. Pulp action, serpent cults and speakeasies! Hot jazz meets cold lead, as our historical arc continues.

Why does this book matter?

Writer Kurt Busiek has earned his keep as far as writing complex characters with increasingly cool powers and fresh personalities go. If Astro City isn’t proof you don’t need the big two I don’t know what is!

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Astro City #38 Review
A lot of cool ideas make this issue sing (see what I did there!).

This issue is all about Jazzbaby as she whisks around town fighting crime and eventually beating a baddie with Egyptian ties. Talk about the perfect villain type for a story set in the 1920s. Along the way she details other heroes of the time and everything has a great 20s look and feel. Basically put, Busiek is a marvel at creating brand new characters that should set anyone’s imagination aflame.

I rather dig Jazzbaby’s powers–connected to the rhythm of music, of course, and the character is likeable and relatable right off the bat. She gets a moment without her powers to connect with another person too, which helps flesh her out. All the while, there’s an undercurrent of gloom and doom and on the very last page you see it’s a very historical moment indeed. You have to wonder how long a character who relies on music for her powers can last, especially if Jazz dies off (as we all know somewhat does today).

I don’t think there’s a bad panel in this book, all done by Brent Anderson. Anderson deftly delivers montages and cut aways to other heroes and their antics well and Jazzbaby is practically an angel. Props go to Peter Pantazis’ colors which make Jazzbaby pop and look even more super powered. The whole production looks like it would fit in a 1920s film, from the costumes to the surroundings around the characters.

Astro City #38 Review
There she is!

It can’t be perfect can it?

I wasn’t a fan of the captions in this issue which become almost too poetic and obtuse for their own good. The Jazzbaby character is practically music incarnate, but it was hard to follow or understand the meaning of her thoughts. A few rereads might cure that issue, but it made portions of this issue get off track or feel nonsensical.

Is It Good?

If you’re a fan of the 1920s you owe it to yourself to read this and the last issue. The creative team have made something truly special and different, taking everything we love about the 1920s and infusing it with super powers.

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