Kurt Busiek returns to his epic superhero world of Astro City in a new series from DC Comics. In a universe full of famous super-powered heroes and villains, Astro City focuses on the people who live in this unique environment. Some of them have powers, others do not. Kurt Busiek explores many areas in Astro City, both past and present, through short stories and biographies of the characters who live there.
The story is complex, well-written biography
Engaging, original main character
Interior art is overshadowed by cover art
Art has the freedom to take risks but does not
Previously in Astro City: Marella works for the Honor Guard call center. She receives a call about domestic abuse from a girl named Esme in Quevachi, a small mountain village in Ecuador. Marella sends a team of child welfare workers to the site, only to find out later that they were killed by the villainous organization, the Skullcrushers. Filled with guilt and thinking she will be fired for her screw up, Marella uses the Honor Guard’s teleporters to bring food and supplies to Quevachi’s refugee camps, hoping Esme will turn up. One day, an injured Skullcrusher comes to the camp for help. When he escapes back to his base, Marella follows him, hoping he would lead her to Esme. She finds Esme and her mother in the base, only to be captured by the Skullcrushers. At that moment, the Honor Guard arrives to confront the villains. When the fighting is over, Marella meets with Cleopatra, a member of the Honor Guard, who tells her that they have been tracking her teleports. She asks Marella to stay on, telling her that they need people like her who are willing to correct their mistakes.
MORE THAN TWO PATHS IN LIFE
Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #4 follows the story of Martha Sullivan, a telekinetic who uses her powers to do stunt work for movies. This issue tells her life story, from the discovery of her new powers to the choices she made in her life. It is a great coming of age story. Martha Sullivan, now in the later stages of her life, reflects on how she came to be successful in Astro City without choosing good or evil. Not only does she have her career, Martha also has a network of other super-powered people like her, formed over the Internet called the Sideliners. Even though she is happy with her life, there are still people who wish to exploit her abilities for their own personal gain. Busiek’s short story empathizes that life is not always black and white. Martha has powers, but did not feel comfortable being a superhero or a supervillain growing up. By the end, Martha inadvertently rises as a hero in her own right, even though her path is unconventional. Astro City #4 is a great piece about the opportunities we have in life and the choices we make from them.
RETURN TO ASTRO CITY
Brent Anderson continues to provide artwork for the Astro City series. Although the interiors are overshadowed by Alex Ross’s cover art, the artist does a good job conveying the character designs and Astro City’s setting. Martha Sullivan’s progression from teenager to adulthood to senior citizen is well done. The artist also uses time period fashion and styles on Martha’s design. One aspect of the Astro City series that is prevalent in this issue is its homage to and parody of established superheroes. For example, Major Domo’s character design is a great parody on modern supervillains. Also, his Samaritan design is spot on. With the amount of freedom the artist has with the Astro City world, Brent Anderson does not take as many risks with the art as he can. Still, his art creates a strong foundation for an original superhero story.
BOTTOM LINE: A GREAT SHORT STORY
Kurt Busiek’s new Astro City series has not lost a step from its original concept. The individual short stories are great for both the casual readers and the hardcore fans. Brent Anderson’s interior artwork for Astro City #4 lays a solid groundwork to a complex and detailed story. In a superhero world not bound by confining back stories and rules, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is the one of the most creative comic books in the industry today. Astro City #4 earns 4 out of 5 stars.
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