Crimespree on Comics: ASTRO CITY: Life In The Big City

Astro City: Life in the Big City- A retro review

“Astro City” is one of the most celebrated comic book series in the past thirty years and I finally got around to reading it. All I could come up with was, what took me so long?

For those that don’t know, it’s all about the lives of heroes and people in a wonderful world where men can fly and women can lift trucks over their heads. Astro City is Gotham, Metropolis, and New York all in one. Heroes and villains fight and wage war daily and the people watch in awe and have for decades. They love their shining beacons of light and absorb every ounce of activity they can. And that’s what the book focuses on. The people. The normal person walking down the street, riding the bus, or next door neighbor and their reaction to the supers. The second issue is the highlight of showcasing this, as an aging newspaper man tells his experience witnessing the biggest story a normal person could hope to view and how it affected his life both personally and professionally.

“Astro City” works so beautifully because the cynical edge is gone. These people love their champions. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air after reading so many books where things are dark and gritty. The people that live in Astro City want to be there and enjoy their lives. Kurt Busiek’s took his love of silver age comic books and applied it to modern day story-telling. There is no wonder why this book has won so many awards. The words flow perfectly from the page to your mind and you feel for every character that is introduced. Kurt Busiek is the Normal Rockwell of comic books. He takes the everyday slice of life and points out the excitement in it.
It’s not only about the people though. It’s a city and world littered with super-powered individuals. Each has their own story and history. It’s rich and vibrant. The bookend issues deal with Samaritan, that world’s Superman. But in two issues of “Astro City” Samaritan has more depth that Superman has had in decades.

Samaritan is always working, whether is his simple secret identity or the speeding from disaster to crisis he is always on the go. Every character, even the background ones, have a story that is waiting to be told. I firmly believe, having only read the first volume in this series that started in 1995, they get to all of them. They have to. Busiek drops little hints and one-offs everywhere though the book. There is so much though that went/goes into “Astro City” it shows and sets off the future of the series. “Astro City” is a gem of the comic book world, precious, rare, and very desirable.