Comics – Astro City: Life In The Big City

30 12 2006


Astro City: Life In The Big City

Originally uploaded by swftoys.

“I love superheroes”. That was Kurt Busiek’s opening words in the introduction of Astro City: Life In The Big City. I had picked this TPB up because of my on-going desire to appreciate good comic work. Right from the start, the Introduction was an interesting read. It summarises Kurt Busiek’s vision for Astro City… well… in several pages really.

The premise for Kurt Busiek’s inspiration for Astro City was to explore if more could be done with the superhero genre. Although superheroes started as simplistic characters that took the earliest readers into the realm of a different reality, could these characters to used to reflect our true reality? Can they be a metaphor for real issues to communicate to a different comic-reading audience? Well, it sure is an exciting prospect back then I guess.

What I found refreshing was his take on how the commoner on the streets of Astro City felt when superheroes flew over the skies or arrive on the scene. How would a criminal who escaped capture from a superhero’s intervention feel? Or how about the recollections of a veteran journalist of a major story he witnessed a long time ago that had superheroes stop a potential catastrophe? Well, Kurt Busiek had expounded on such themes in one entire comic issue. And it is an interesting read.

Astro City is refreshing because it takes the comic reader’s eyes off the red capes, star spangled shield or masks that superheroes are commonly associated with. The limelight is shifted to their surroundings and at times it zooms in on the non-superhero. If combined with the usual action offerings in comics, they should help make a complete picture of the entire event! You will get to know what people were thinking as they were off to work on the day an attack from villains was about to occur. You will get to know what happened to the people inside a building under attack from villains. And you will know how they felt in the aftermath of the attack.

Although the art does not invoke Jim Lee kind of awe, it works for me given the different direction each of the stories is taking. I particularly like the design of the Jack-In-The-Box character. It’s a hero in clown costume. Superhero culture has somewhat damned the clown to be a villain-type. But in Astro City, it is the opposite. For myself, I find it an alternative perspective of the interpretation of a clown-type hero.

By the time I am at the last page of Life In The Big City, I must admit however that I was starved for conventional action. It’s like spending an afternoon in an arts museum and getting an itch for some LAN gaming when you are exiting it. Well, I am just being true to myself.

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