Welcome to Inside Astro City, a column focusing on the Vertigo Comics series Astro City from Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross. Each month, we’ll take a look at the current issue of the series, and ask series writer Kurt Busiek questions about the book. Let’s jump into issue 17 with art by Tom Grummet!
This is a spoiler-filled column, so if you have not yet read the issue you might want to come back later. You can find the issue at your local comic book shop or you can download it from Comixology here.
Astro City #17: Krigari Ironhand. Tyrant. Emperor. Interdimensional scourge. Honor Guard’s greatest enemy. His rise. His fall. The death of one of Honor Guard’s own. And the secret story behind it all.
1. A lot of this issue centers around Krigari the Ironhanded, a universal despot. When creating a villain that is probably the most despicable creature in the universe, where do you find inspiration?
Kurt Busiek: Oh, I’m sure there’s much more despicable than him out there. He’s very straightforward, very predictable.
Actually, since it really wasn’t his story (it was Eth’s, though hopefully readers didn’t know that while reading the Krigari scenes), we just needed him to be something Eth could react against — he had to feel like a force of nature, virtually unstoppable, and impossible to reason with. I started on that by thinking about how much fun I’d had writing Kang in AVENGERS as a much pulpier warrior-type than normal, someone who gloried in battle and wanted a challenge more than anything else. And then I cranked that up, making it Krigari’s sole motivation, his reason for existence for as long as he could remember. He needed to be all motivation, all drive, so we could shift that motivation from “Conquer all!” to “Conquer Honor Guard!” with the same level of obsession.
KB: No immediate plans — the battle scenes aren’t usually the most important part of any ASTRO CITY story, and here they’re mostly there to build up the characters, make it clear what’s driving them. But now that they’re established in the characters’ histories, who knows? It could be fun to come at one of them from a different angle.
KB: I don’t think we’ve hinted at any of the sub-atomic lands before, no. But having established a whole nested progression of them, I expect we’ll explore them further in the future — plus, if there’s this whole progression of sub-atomic words, are there super-atomic world in which our solar system (or galaxy) is little more than an atom?
KB: In the past, when I’ve worked with Tom, it’s usually been plot-style. But in this case I wrote a full-script, same as I do for Brent. I expect I approached it a bit differently, since I’m used to working with both Brent and Tom, and I’m sure if I was writing the story for Brent to draw, I’d pitch it toward his sensibilities and strengths, and for Tom I pitched it toward his. Tom’s excellent at big, bold, classic superhero adventure, so giving him an Honor Guard story full of action and science fiction seemed like an ideal choice.
KB: Next issue begins a four-part look at the life of my single favorite ASTRO CITY hero: Quarrel. And along with her, you’ll be learning a lot about Crackerjack, too, or at least seeing a lot of him. They’re both acrobatic superheroes who are getting older, so their bodies are starting to slow down. How are they going to cope with that? What are they going to do?