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Astro City #51 Review

Comic Books

Astro City #51 Review

Prepare to feel emotions!

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It has been over two months since the anniversary 50th issue of Astro City and this issue picks up where the last left off. Well, more or less. Writer Kurt Busiek, in customary worldbuilding, fashion introduces readers to a new type of threat from outer space that webs up its victims. Not to deny us a good yarn or two, Busiek weaves in another story about the supervillain survivor self-help group running Michael.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Our three-part look into the lives of Astro City “survivors” continues. A woman coping with a devastating loss joins the support group Michael Tenicek has been running for years. But will Michael help her, or will she tear the group apart? For those damaged by life in Astro City, hope and wonder are elusive things. Featuring Honor Guard, the Hanged Man and more.

Why does this matter?

This issue gives two compelling stories for the price of one. The first one involves the spider monster and it ends on a truly unnerving and messed up note. The second introduces a fascinating trope of villains from a very different perspective.

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

Astro City #51 Review
You gotta wonder why folks don’t just move away from Astro City.
Starting with the alien invader story, Busiek drops readers into a truly frightening situation, focusing on the victims who are webbed up by the beast. It’s a nice way to introduce readers to the supervillain and superhero world of Astro City while setting up a new patron of Michael’s group. The way it ends is truly haunting and it’ll leave you blubbering to yourself due to the trauma of it all. This transitions to Michael’s group and serves as an introduction if you’re just joining the story here.

The last issue ended up leaving the readers with a question mark or two that are explained in this issue. Busiek takes a common time-travel element and flips it on its head, not only creating drama between Michael and the spider monster’s victim but also making you ponder something incredibly outlandish. I got a Twilight Zone vibe from the big reveal and it’s yet another example of how masterful Busiek is with telling so many different stories in the Astro City universe.

Brent Anderson draws this issue and utilizes the framing of things expertly. The perspective used in the spider monster scenes adds to the unnerving nature of it all and the finish focusing on the woman’s wounds exemplifies the trauma she’s experienced. That helps make you not hate her later on for pointing fingers at Michael even if she’s overstepping her boundaries.

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It can’t be perfect can it?

The ending serves as an act to show a man dealing with pain, doubt, and fear of his memories, but it doesn’t satisfy much. I see what Busiek is doing, but it leaves you wanting more — though I’m sure this will be fixed when the story is collected.

Is It Good?

Two stories for the price of one makes this a riveting tale of heroes, villains, and a normal man dealing with an extraordinary secret. Busiek and company make it look effortless to strike an emotional chord with the reader.

Astro City #51 Review
Astro City #51
Is it good?
Two stories that do different things, but both capture a different angle on living in a superhero/supervillain world.
The opening story will grab you with its twisted ending
Michael reveals how he lost his wife and it's deeply unsettling
Great use of panel work to pull you into the story
The last two pages are a stutter step away from deeper meaning so as to set us up for the next chapter

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