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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Astro City Vol. 15: Ordinary Heroes (Graphic Novel)

By Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, & Brent Anderson

Publisher: Vertigo (December 19, 2017)

Hardcover 176 pages

Finished 1/6/2017

Amazon Listing  





Being somewhat older I’ve lost some of that joy and wonder of exploring the world that one had while they’re young. Yet I always get a giddy sensation whenever I crack open a new volume of Astro City. Without fail the authors and artists are able to recapture that joy and hope sensations of when I first started reading comics. Maybe it's because they don’t explain everything and keep a mind hungry for more. Maybe it's because there is an entire universe wrapped up in one title, allowing the authors to keep the material fresh with new ideas. Maybe its because the authors always manage to bring out the human element in every situation. Whatever it is, I cannot stop myself from being right there, waving a fistful of cash, whenever the new book is out. 
One of the great things about the Astro City universe is that it is not static. Things change, people age, people retire, people die. Some give up being heroes, some give up being villains. This volume continues that trend. We revisit the comical Jack-in-the-Box now in his third incarnation, where the son of the first man to don the hero’s mantle begins digging into the past and the island where his father died violently. Drama unfolds as new evidence comes to light (this is actually the weakest of the stories). 

The action then shifts to Shadow Hill and a character we haven't seen since issue 4 of the original series, Marta the accountant. She is now older and established with her own business and accidently becomes the accountant to the supernatural. This one I love in particular, because we get an origin (sort of) for the enigmatic floating figure known as The Hanged Man (who has also been around forever). The third story deals with a villain, Mister Manta, who has been shipwrecked on an island for three decades. When he finally gets a chance to leave, he has a difficult decision to make. Finally we have a tribute to a superhero tradition of the past which has died off in recent decades; the superpet. In the tradition of Krypto the Superdog and Streaky the Supercat, we have a story of Rocket Dog (whom I believe has been mentioned before) and Kittyhawk- the night prowling feline. 
Another aspect that sets Astro City apart is that one can almost literally jump in anywhere and be content. The entire backstory of each character is told so piecemeal, each story potentially set in a different time, so that one will always have that sense of ‘what am I missing here’. I’ve read it all and I still feel that way. 


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