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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reader's Diary #1194- Kurt Busiek (Writer) & Brent Eric Anderson (Artist): Astro City Family Album

So, as it turns out, there are superheroes out there beyond the DC and Marvel Universes. And they're pretty cool.

To comic nerds, this isn't new. Busiek's been winning Eisner Awards for Astro City since the early 90s. But alas, I'm forever late to the game. Nonetheless, I'm at the game now.

Game isn't a bad turn of phrase actually, because Astro City is quite fun. It's just a burst of creative energy. Ridiculously over-the-top superheroes (like most superheroes, I suppose) but great storytelling. There's an old school look to Anderson's characters but with the better, modern storytelling.

Astro City is basically a city of superheroes (not unlike The City in The Tick cartoons), and Family Album collects a bunch of their stories. It seems nowadays everyone is talking about the Marvel Universe (or Marvel Cinematic Universe) or the DC Universe and I don't know, I certainly appreciate them both (hell I get giddy for a new Marvel movie), but it seems to be at the point where neither company knows what to do with the worlds they've created. They have to keep them around (or smash them together or whatever) because money, but the thrill of building it is gone. With Astro City you sense the early days. Like it must have felt when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were pumping out new characters every week.

But better that that, it captures that grandeur of classic comics without the cockamamie cold war plots and general offensiveness. Sure, these stories are pretty "out there" but in a way that seems smarter; it makes intelligent points and throws in an abundance of subtle satirical jabs. These are comics that understand that they can retain the outrageous fun stuff but still appeal to an adult market.

It's not deconstructing a universe, it's constructing one. And that's a beautiful thing.

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