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Monday, March 20, 2017

Astro City vol. 14: Reflections (Graphic Novel)

By: Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross

Publisher: Vertigo (2017)

Hardcover 176 pages

Finished 3/19/2017

Amazon Listing   

          As usual the Astro City team excels themselves. Easily the best writing that Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek have ever done. It continues to build on the mythology of their universe, while simultaneously being a nostalgic look at the old school comics before the need for “grittiness” set in. It looks and feels like the early days of comics with that sense of wonder and optimism that often infused the style of writing at the time.
The book begins with the 20th anniversary episode that hearkens back to the first issue with the Samaritan, their Superman analogue. Demonstrating that he is so busy fighting crime, saving people, and averting natural disasters that the only time he has for peace is when he is dreaming. But now his dreams are being disturbed and he is not as effective.
 Next we have a story from the perspective of a young alien boy whose civilization is in constant strife against the Furst Family, the Fantastic Four analogue in the Astro City verse. On the boy’s planet the Furst Family are branded as war criminals and targeted for death, but as the boy discovers when he comes across one, his government’s propaganda misleads the populace. And we are left with the sense that he may try to change things on his world.
Last we have a story revolving around Steeljack, the Steel Jacketed Man, whom we last saw in the Tarnished Angel story, the former supervillain turned straight. He is now a low rent private eye and becomes involved in a case with a former associate who is being framed for a crime. He discovers that man old time villains that have hung up the mask have been framed or shot for crimes recently and begins to track down the culprit. This story has one of the most interesting villains we’ve seen yet in the series and is the gem of this collection. You could see they had a lot of fun writing this arc.  

One note, the Amazon listing states one of the stories spotlights three generations of the Jack-in-the-Box character, but that arc is not actually collected in this collection. No doubt it will be in the next one.

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