Cower not, fierce reader! This day, in the spirit of the comic book discussions going on, we will look at two recent volumes from Astro City, written by Kurt Busiek. I mention the name because he is very much a liberal, and there are some times when his view intrude enough to hurt the stories. Gladly, these volumes have a lesser amount and are more story fitting than the ones in the past.
First, a quick note about Astro City, what it is and how it is presented. Astro City is not part of any other comics universe, but feels like some of the best bits of any hero comics you've read. This is very much on purpose. A big part of Astro City is that the stories feel like Stan Lee or Jack Kirby stories, only written to matter. Another BIG point is the fact that Astro City is always written to let people in at the start of a story arc. Oh, and the stories are not necessarily in chronological order. Don't worry about continuity or characters, you'll get it.
So, Astro City: Honor Guard has a bunch of short stories in it. The first is in many ways feels like a cross between an Atom story, and a multiple worlds in peril JLA or Avengers story. It's about the events leading up to the death of Stormhawk of the Honor Guard, how the people of a microscopic world inadvertently created the circumstances that led to his death.
We also have a late life story of the mystical/comsic powered Starfighter, and see glimpses of an ERB style world of adventure. After this, there's a story of Wolf Spider, encountering his childhood fictional heroes and regretting it. Hummingbird confronts the magic and gods of another world that granted her both power and a curse, with a few feminist notes. Then we have a series of attacks by the Living Nightmare, but who or what is giving him fear?
Lastly, we have in this volume a story of American Chibi, where we find her home and the dark powers that are pushing against the barriers to reality. A quick word here: this volume has a lot of origin stories for Astro City. And while they ususally provide an origin story for each character focused on, this just has a lot of new foci. But, overall, really entertaining.
Astro City: Reflections goes a different route, and brings us back to characters we've already seen, though you still don't need those stories to follow these. This volume has three tales, and all of them have familiar notes.
A powerless member of the First Family has been kidnapped by one of their intergalactic foes. The family goes to rescue her from these near constant enemies. The story is told following a child of the alien enemy.
Samaritan has been having bad dreams. Visiting the Fursts, he is told that he must stay for 24 hours so they can target the cause. Heroes around the world cover for him, and the cause of his dreams is found and manifested.
Steeljack, once a villain, has been hired to uncover who's been framing retired crooks. We visit with street punks, gadget refabbers, and take a meal.
While early Astro City volumes are a bit better, it's still some of the best hero storytelling out there right now. These sit at 8 of 10 fell deeds each
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.