Astro City: Local Heroes - Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson

Astro City is another one of those comics that's been around for a while, and I kept seeing the title crop up from time to time but never got around to reading it. The library had this one on the shelf so I decided to check it out, and it turned out to be quite good. The concept is this: Astro City is a place where superheroes (and supervillains) tend to congregate. There are normal humans, of course. But instead of being like Metropolis or Gotham City, where there are a few villains and some heroes but chances are you could live there without ever encountering one, in Astro City they're everywhere. The traffic report mentions slowdowns at the bridge where Samaritan is fighting Tentacus. Postcards from Astro City feature various heroes. There's a daytime soap opera about the Crimson Cougar, a fictional superhero.

What makes Astro City a great read, though, is that most of the stories aren't so much about the people with special powers so much as the lives of the normal folk who live among them. The stories in this book are about the doorman at a downtown hotel, a comic-book writer who's assigned to cover the non-fiction stories, a teenage girl who's sent from Astro City to spend the summer out in the gountryside with her cousins. For the most part, your view of superheroes is a little oblique. There are references to the Silver Agent, a superhero from the 50s or 60s who isn't around anymore, and the assumption is that everyone in Astro City knows what happened to him, even if you don't.

I'm not sure where this book fits in the whole scheme of things, but it doesn't really matter, either. The stories may overlap here and there, but for the most part they're stand-alone stories, and you don't need a lot of background information to enjoy them.

A good read for people who like superhero comics but are looking for something more.

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 07, 2005 | Comments (0)


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