Or – “It’s Never About The Fighty-Fighty…”
The first issue of the relaunched Astro City helped to assuage any fear that I might have had about the book’s return, by being a great story, a great Astro City story and a callback to the first issue of the original ongoing series. Can #2 keep up the winning streak? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
An interesting take.
A heart-breaking ending.
Call center flashbacks.
Seriously, a HEART-BREAKING ending.
ASTRO CITY #2
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Letterer: John G Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Astro City: The Honor Guard are the greatest heroes of Astro City, and indeed, their world. Featuring the likes of Samaritan, The Gentleman, Winged Victory and Cleopatra, they are the first line of defense against any and all threats to humanity, always read to answer the call of heroism.
But, have you ever wondered where that call COMES from?
THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU…
I had never wondered before this issue, but we open with a fascinating look into the world behind the heroes, as a young woman named Marella starts her first day on the job with “HumanaGlobal”, ostensibly a customer service call centerrr…
Sorry, nearly threw up in my mouth a little. Ingrained response. Bygones… It turns out that, rather than the usual antics of phone customer service, Madella will actually be working the Honor Guard hotline, answering calls from the public about situations that might require super-heroic intervention. The utter, perfectly simplicity of this concept is mind-blowing, and the fact that I can’t remember anyone really dealing with it in the past (for a while, Captain America had a hotline, but it was never really examined) reminds me again why Astro City is the premiere book for things you just never thought to ask before.
I KINDA WANT TO WORK THERE.
Madella bonds with her “pod” of co-workers, and they deal with the usual run of cranks, sillies and false alarms, but every once in a while, one of their co-workers identifies a genuine threat in need of the Honor Guard’s attention. Busiek and Anderson thread the H.G. scenes in and out of the story, giving us glimpses of Beautie, The Gentlemen and the rest of the heroes in action against the quirky villains of this world (Lord Volcanus feels like long-lost Kirby Fantastic Four villain), all the while deepening the quiet drama of a young woman learning to love her job. The fact that they successfully make her story as interesting as the hero fighty-fighty is impressive, but the way that the cliffhanger sneaks up and punches you right in the gut is even more so. The ending makes me want to immediately read the next chapter of Madella’s story, and even after my third read-through, I’m still emotionally affected by the power of the last page…
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOD, WHAT A CLIFF-HANGER…
Nobody does it better than the Astro City team, and this issue is why. Debuting an interesting new hero (The Wolf-Spider, seen on the cover, gets a page or two inside, making me want to know what his deal is), taking an unexpected tack on the tropes of the nearly century-old superhero game, and making us CARE about Madella’s life turn this issue into a treat, a filet mignon among the bologna sandwich crossover schmaggegis we’ve all grown tired of. Astro City #2 is the real deal, turning answering phone calls into effective and moving drama, while not skimping on the action and cool art, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.