Kurt Busiek’s Astro City #1/2
DC Comics (posted to comiXology August 28 2013)
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“The Nearness Of You”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER/COVER ART: Brent Anderson
INKER: Will Blyberg
COLORIST: Alex Sinclair
No credits given for letterer or editor.
“Clash Of Titans: A New York Romance” (prose story)
A man is having dreams of a woman he never met and yet knows everything about. Just as he thinks he’s lost his mind and may accidentally OD on medicine to help block the dreams, the Hanged Man appears. He shows the man why he dreams of the woman because he used to know her until a villain messed with time. Now he can sleep peacefully and who knows, maybe his waking life will benefit now that he knows the woman in his dreams.
What they got right: The Astro City stories look at a superhero universe from a different perspective, and while I wouldn’t want every superhero comic to follow it (look what happened when they kept emulating Watchmen) I like this alternate approach. We see the consequences of the time-altering villain on at least one average person, whose wife was erased from history and yet existed. Time is a tricky devil and even harder to write properly but I think this story works well with it.
What they got wrong: Admittedly this comes solely from personal preference rather than any actual critique on my part, but the Hanged Man’s dialog (which isn’t really speech so much as something he feels in his mind rather than actual telepathy since the Hanged Man is a paranormal being) is in text boxes. They’re not normal text boxes outside of being square like normal caption boxes but…I don’t know. Something about felt a bit too normal, though I honestly couldn’t tell you what shape I would have preferred. I may just be weird. Actually I know I’m weird but still…
The back-up story is interesting. I won’t spoil the ending but it’s a really dark one. Instead of Astro City this prose story takes place in New York and is told from the perspective of a man working on promotional campaigns for New York City. The famous “I Love New York” campaign was losing steam and they wanted to try something new. Fate intervened when the man comes across superhero Mister Right and recruits him for a new campaign. This does lead to an increase in the fights with arch-enemy and former lover Demonica. I won’t spoil the rest. It’s a bit darker than I go for but it is a good story. Two things of note: it does talk about one of the Twin Towers being smashed but this run ended well before 9-11. It also has Donald Trump being eaten by monsters but he was still a businessman at the time. Granted it would be in league with Busiek’s current views on President Trump (and maybe his then-current opinion of businessman Trump) but he doesn’t usually let his politics take control of his stories unlike a few other writers I could mention. So be aware of both those things before reading the story. It’s only of note in hindsight.
Overall it is a rather good comic, and worth checking out, especially during its free period at comiXology.