‘Astro City’ #2: The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week

Astro City is back, and firing on just about every cylinder you can name; it’s a comic book not just for comics readers, but people who want to start reading comics. Our full review, and reviews of books from DC, Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Titan, IDW, and Valiant, as well as the full release list, on the next pages.

This issue actually makes a superb jumping on point, as it doesn’t really follow from issue #1 of the relaunched series. Instead, it picks up with a member of the Honor Guard’s support team. Superheroes get a lot of phone calls, and somebody has to screen them, after all…

Kurt Busiek’s series is beloved for a reason, and this book is a superb illustration as to why. Busiek carefully thinks out how superheroes would handle mundane situations, and the basic, human difficulties behind what’s such an enormous task. Astro City is and always has been about people, and this issue is a beautiful illustration of that.

Brent Anderson’s art is more than up to the task. Sure, there’s all the superhero action and high technology you could want, but it’s again the people where Anderson shines. The best moment in the book is not the admittedly great superhero stuff, but the heart-wrenching last panel. If you’re not buying this, you’re missing out, that simple.

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Ed Brisson and John Christmas deliver a look at survivalists that’s smart and substantially different from what you’d expect. Sheltered follows the survivalists of Safe Haven, a group of people who, as you might expect, are planning for things to go horribly wrong. They’re stockpiling food, hiding weapons and ammo, building bunkers, and living out in the middle of nowhere, well away from all the threats of the world. Or so they think.

What stands out about Brisson’s script, and contrary to other books featuring compounds such as this, is that nobody here is a complete lunatic. There’s no leader grubbing for control, just people worried about the future and struggling to ensure the best for their children. Two characters have an argument about permits that betrays their fear of the government while seeming rational and reasonable, even if you think they’re both nuts. Without giving away the twist, let’s just say that it’s reasonable what they didn’t see coming.

John Christmas’ art, meanwhile, is a mix of spare and detailed in the right places. He keeps the proceedings grounded and vivid, while showing off his own style. In short, it’s a great book from Image… but what about the other #1s this week?

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Joshua Williamson’s cross between a ghost story and a heist flick is smart-assed in the best way possible. It’s the kind of book that opens with a prisoner ignoring another prisoner getting raped with the caption “You get used to it”, and gets more…audacious from there. Helping the tone substantially is Goran Sudzuka’s quietly elaborate art. It’s grounded in the real, which makes the revelation of the occult all the more jarring. Where Williamson will take this is a good question that we can’t wait to get the answer to.

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James Asmus reinvents the World’s Worst Superhero Team with panache to spare. Quantum and Woody are brothers, after a fashion, but deeply divided for obvious reasons. The book is light and funny enough to have a quick pace, but Asmus wisely balances it with character development: It’s hard not to feel bad for both of these guys.