Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ASTRO CITY #50 by Kurt Busiek - Book Review

From the publisher: Our 50th issue begins a special new story: Michael Tenicek lost his wife, years ago, to a chronal cataclysm. But he’s not the only one in Astro City whose life has been upended by life among the superheroes. Today, we’ll meet others, learn their stories and see how Michael—and friends—cope with their trauma. A sequel to the Eisner-nominated “The Nearness of You,” considered by many to be ASTRO CITY’s best story ever. 

From the beginning, Astro City was a different type of superhero comic. While Kurt Busiek riffed on many of the typical superhero tropes, he generally focused on the personal lives of the people behind the masks and those ordinary citizens affected by their exploits. Astro City #1/2, "The Nearness of You", was possibly the best issue of Astro City that Busiek wrote, as it was nominated for an Eisner Award. It told the story of a universe altering conflict, but looked at it from the perspective of Michael Tenicek, a man who lost his wife when the universe changed. In fact, not only did he lose her, she had never existed. However, he was granted the ability to remember her. My summary can't do the story justice, but it was fantastic.

Astro City #50 is a sequel of sorts to "The Nearness of You". It's also the start of the final arc of Astro City, which will be ending with #52. In this issue, we get to look in on Michael Tenicek again, and find out what he has been up to. We discover that Michael has been running support groups for people affected by heroes and villains. Some of these folks lost loved ones; some were actually collateral damage from attacks (human shields, only survivors, etc.). All of them are looking for a place to go for comradeship and encouragement as they go on with their lives. When a new woman shows up at a group, things begin to get interesting.

I really like reading the various stories in Astro City. I love Busiek's approach to heroes and villains, and he does a great job telling stories with heart and emotion. I remember reading "The Nearness of You" when it first came out, and that, along with the first Confessor story arc, is what I think of when I read any Astro City story. Busiek captured something real with that story, something that resonated with readers, and I was thrilled to find out that he would be revisiting Michael Tenicek. Astro City #50 does not disappoint, and it serves to start this last story arc off on the right foot. Michael Tenicek is a sympathetic character who is easy to root for, and Busiek quickly establishes him again as a genuinely good person. Busiek also sets up the story for the next two issues, and it looks to be a fantastic ending for Astro City as a regularly produced comic book (it looks like there may be some original graphic novel stories in Astro City's future).

I highly recommend Astro City #50 by Kurt Busiek. Even if you've never read this book before, this issue (and the next two) promise to tell a wonderful story. Grab it now, and take a look at the wonder that is Kurt Busiek's Astro City series.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

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