Saturday, December 17, 2005

Astro City Catchup

Life in the Big City and Local Heroes by Kurt Busiek

A few more Astro City collections. Life in the Big City is the earliest collection, and it's relatively dull as most of it is just introducing us to the premise and characters. There are a few good stories though. The first introduces us to Samaritan, Astro City's Superman analogue and examines how a real person would deal with the pressure of saving the world several times a day (answer: it'd drive a normal person batshit). The last story goes back to him again, this time trying to go on a date with the Wonder Women analogue. Very amusing, but also rather poignant. There's also a cool story about how the newspapers work in Astro City.

Local Heroes is much stronger. The first story is nothing special, just another look at the city in general through the eyes of another ordinary person. The second is a bit better, looking at the way superhero comics are written in Astro City. Some of the later stories are real gems though. In Shining Armour a women reminisces about her affair with a superhuman, and in Old Times a retired superhero tries to save the city one last time. All these stories do a great job of humanising supposedly superhuman characters. The real highlight is the two part series about a lawyer in the 70s. Not only does it look at how putting someone in jail would work in a world where evil twins and mind control are common place (I guess this is why those supervillians are always back out of jail so fast) it also does a great job of evoking the unease and sense of betrayal of the Veitnam/Nixon era.

Neither of these collections are as good as Confessions, but Local Heroes is good enough to make me keep buying them.

See also:
Family Album

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