Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: Astro City #4

Let me start by saying a few things in general about Kurt Busiek’s Astro City.  Astro city is a special comic series to me because it affected the way I thought about Super-hero comics.  Many years ago I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do artistically.  I realized I wasn’t going to jump into a job at a large comic book company.  But that was okay, because I really enjoy teaching and I’m proud that education is my profession.  But I still wanted to do something artistic, if only for fun.  I wanted to make a comic book of my own.  So I had to figure out what to do a comic about.  I thought about comedy, sci-fi, and fantasy ideas.  Anything but superheroes.  Superheroes just seemed like an idea that had been destroyed by the bad decisions of the major comic companies.  I didn’t think there was any way to do a superhero book that wasn’t a retread or a parody.  But then I read some superhero comics that were original creations, not parts of the major comics companies.  And these comics renewed my faith in superheroes as a genre.  The comic that affected me the most in this way was Astro City.  Astro City proves that superheroes are interesting and cool.  There’s nothing lame, condescending, or apologetic about the characters and situations that Kurt Busiek and company create in their world.  Superheroes in the Astro City universe are the most perfectly normal occurrence.  I’d even say Astro City proves that if super-powers existed in the real world, we would have costumed heroes fighting for truth and justice.  The idea doesn’t seem goofy, it seems…right.

Astro City’s current run has reached issue #4, and it’s a good point for me to write a review.  Issue four, titled “On the Sidelines” tells the tale of Martha Sullivan, a telekinetic who lives in Astro City among all the costumed super-folk but has no desire to become a crime-fighter.  She uses her powers to earn an honest living working in film.  There have been other comics I’ve read of super-powered people with no desire to use their powers (The magnetically powered character in New Teen Titans comes to mind.) but Kurt makes the best case for someone not wanting to be involved I’ve ever seen.  The flashbacks to her early use of her powers and her path to her current status are excellent.  But this is standard fare for Astro City.  Kurt doesn’t just tell about someone with powers, he lets you really get to know the character so you understand and care about her.  Martha isn’t perfect, but she’s competent.  I should add that I loved that she doesn’t have the “super hero physique”.  She looks and acts like a real person….who is a telekinetic.  I worried for her and I felt joy and sadness when things went well or badly for her.  The cameo by The Samaritan was very well done, also, showcasing the differences yet sameness of the two characters.  One last comment: the art is top-notch.  Perfect mood and action inside and an excellent cover.  And I love the pink thing.

I eagerly await for more!

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