‘Astro City’: The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week, And More Reviews

Astro City has been sorely, sorely missed. The beloved series, as we noted, never really stopped being made, it just took a publishing hiatus. And now it’s not only back, it’s better than ever.

We don’t want to ruin the plot for the first issue, except to say that it’s Busiek’s unique spin on an old chestnut: The Everyman winding up trying to explain Earth and humanity to an extremely powerful outsider. It’s classic Astro City, however: Busiek avoids cliche in the plotting while infusing the book with the most genuine warmth and affection for superhero comics you’ll find on the stands. Most writers would put a cynical twist on the goings-on here, but Busiek deftly avoids that while keeping the book intelligent, and maintaining an edge of suspense with an unreliable narrator letting us know something is up.

It’s also a book you can pick up without having to have read anything that came before. Although the book is sprinkled with nods to previous arcs, you don’t need to have read it to follow the plot or understand the characters.

Brent Anderson, meanwhile, turns in art that can make even the most ridiculous of characters fit smoothly into a realistic, or at least grounded, world. Take, for example, American Chibi:

Yes, this book features an anime character. And she’s actually one of the funniest things about this issue, but notice that she’s drawn in such a way that she makes a form of sense; she may be ridiculous, but she fits right in in Astro City.

Funny without being snarky, affectionate without being fanboyish, beautiful without being elaborate, Astro City has been away for far too long. It’s good to see it back, and we hope it stays around for a while.

So, what about the other comics this week?

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One of the strangest books DC has put out in recent years continues. J.M. DeMatteis and Fernando Blanco really run with the religious nature of this book; somewhere, there is a thesis about the theology of the DCU, and this book will likely be one of the central documents. DeMatteis isn’t shy about showing us just how ugly the Phantom Stranger’s personal hell actually is, leading to one of the stronger issues of this unusual book.