W: Kurt Busiek
A: Brent Anderson
Price: $2.99 USD/$4.00 CAN
Astro City returns with an epic maxi-series about the city in the 1970s. Two brothers, one a cop and the other a criminal, come to the same conclusion: superheroes bring chaos. Ordinary people like them aren’t in control of their destinies. These feelings are strengthened by the transformation of astronauts into super-beings called The Apollo 11; a recent attack by the reality-warping L.S.Deviant; the Old Soldier standing against U.S forces in Vietnam; and the Blue Knight, a new hero who kills criminals. The public is beginning to turn against its heroes. When one of them is arrested for murder, it looks like the beginning of the end.
I was never a big fan of Astro City. I liked the art and the different takes on classic characters and stories. But mostly it felt like Busiek’s multiversal fan fiction. ‘Dark Age’ looks like it has more originality. The “public hates its protectors” story is as old as the Marvel Universe, but Busiek does a good job creating the atmosphere of tension that gives birth to such hatred. ‘Astro City’ comics have often presented a common man’s point of view on superbeings. They always ended with the observer learning something valuable. Now we get a strong argument about how and why superheroes endanger the lives they protect.
Anderson’s inking style is dark and shadowy. Even the scenes in daylight have a dark mood. His people possess qualities of flesh and realism. It’s similar to what Neal Adams used to do. The few superpeople he does draw have the sense of power and otherworldliness you look for in comics. Anderson’s the best artist for this series.
I’d heard Busiek is using ideas in this series originally intended for his sequel to ‘Marvels’. (The attack by L.S.Deviant reminded me of “Inferno”; I must now wash out my brain.) There’s a reference to an anti-alien senator similar to the one in the Avengers’ “Kree-Skrull” war. ‘Astro City: The Dark Age’ looks like it will take a public’s anti-hero feelings to a farther degree than any other story. It certainly has to be better than DC’s ‘Legends’.
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