How do the most powerful (and busy) superhumans in the world relax?  Welcome to Date Night!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #6 awaits!

KURT BUSIEK’S ASTRO CITY #6

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Pals
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor: Ann Huntington Busiek
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.25
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in Kurt Busiek’s Astro City: Once called Romeyn Falls, Astro City sits in the shadow of Mount Kirby as a nexus of strange, superhuman alien and other forces.  Filled to the brim with superheroes (including the Honor Guard, the world’s finest Earth’s mightiest archetypical team), Astro City is both exciting and terrifying.  Foremost among those heroes is the powerful Samaritan, a strange visitor from another place with powers far beyond mortal men and his counterpart, Winged Victory, an amazing amazon-type with a magic sword, wings and a very feminist outlook on life.  As part of the Honor Guard, they fight with confidence.

As mild-manned fact-checker Asa Martin and women’s rights activist Lauren Freed, on the other hand, things are somewhat different…

Entering through the roof door, Samaritan idly wishes for a moment that he were on his way to Chicago to battle evil, rather than face his next challenge.  And then, the door opens…

I love this moment for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it immediately grabbed me as real and engaging, even though these characters were essentially unknown to me when I first read it.  (KBAC #1 gave us a full issue of Samaritan, but Winged Victory had never been in focus before.)  As his date transforms by drawing her tiny sword pendant (which is a detail I love now and then as ingenious, by the way), he thinks back to how he ended up in this situation in the first place…

After an awkward moment, Winged Victory remarks how odd it is that they can fight aliens easily, but can’t remember how a date works, and both heroes take to the air, only for Samaritan to realize that he really DOESN’T remember how dates go, as he forgot the most important part: Where to go!

At Winged Victory’s suggestion, the duo decides to steer into the skid and make a scene, arriving at the finest restaurant in Astro City and asking if they can make room for them.  But even with privacy screens, things don’t quite go as planned…

All the while, they make quiet first-date small talk, giving us more insight into both heroes and their methods, but their fame makes it near impossible.  Rather than go to one of the places that cater to costumed clientele, Samaritan suggests going small, transforming out of his heroic garb and entering Beefy Bob’ burger joint, where Asa and Lauren can finally get to know one another…

We even get to see the secret origin of Samaritan for the first time, showing how he was sent back in time to prevent a catastrophe that threatened his world.  The travel had an unexpected effect, though, empowering him with tremendous strength (and blue hair) but allowing him to stop the disaster in a more direct way than he expected…

Lauren keeps getting buffeted by rude people, but there is a moment of real, personal contact…

…until we find out that neither Lauren nor Asa have quite tuned out as much of their superhero life as it seems.

Winged Victory remarks that she almost wishes she personally could have taken down the smarmy Golden Boy, and suddenly we’re in a whole new realm of comic book meta, as archetypes resembling Superman and Wonder Woman discuss the nature of villains and why some seem to “belong” to certain heroes…

A deep discussion of methods follows, as Lauren tries to articulate why her methods and why she tries to protect women as much as she can.  Asa is surprised to hear her admit that she’d save a woman before a man, with all other things equal, but she reminds him that even they can’t save everyone.  Things start to get very tense as he tries (and fails, mostly) to see her perspective…

Reminding her about her insistence that her support facilities are schools rather than shelters, Asa suggests that her Winged Victory form is a shelter of its own, causing her to angrily storm out.

This also include a sudden transformation to winged warrior goddess, startling the Beefy Bob’s patrons, and she shouts her displeasure before flying away.  Samaritan catches up with his date as the Astrobank Tower in the middle of town, ready to try to smooth things over…

A long poignant pause in their conversation allows our heroes to realize that, for one moment, there are no emergencies, no alarms, no cries for help.  Nothing but them and a romantic night on top of a bank…

Aaaand boom.  The moment I had been waiting for since page one.  It’s just a second, much like Samaritan’s dreams of flying in issue #1, but it’s a second worth waiting for and one that wraps things up satisfactorily.  As the final issue of the original miniseries, it’s a perfect capper but also the kind of comic that makes you want to write the publishers for more (and many did, leading to an ongoing series not long afterwards.)  Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #6 is really one of the book’s underrated triumphs, with a meaningful story, excellent character interactions, some metatextual elements that don’t detract from the characters and a pretty wonderful ending, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  The only way this one could have been better was if it had been even longer…

How do the most powerful (and busy) superhumans in the world relax?  Welcome to Date Night!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Kurt Busiek's Astro City #6 awaits! KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY #6 Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Brent Anderson Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Pals Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft Editor: Ann Huntington Busiek Publisher: Image Comics Cover Price: $2.25 Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00 Previously in Kurt Busiek's Astro City: Once called Romeyn Falls, Astro City sits in the shadow of Mount Kirby as a nexus of strange, superhuman alien and other forces.  Filled to the brim with superheroes (including the…
A lovely, quiet story featuring some excellent analysis of comic book tropes and deep character work. Highly recommended!

KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY #6

Writing
Art
Coloring

A lovely, quiet story featuring some excellent analysis of comic book tropes and deep character work. Highly recommended!

User Rating: 4.55 ( 2 votes)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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