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‘Astro City’ is great introduction to superhero comics

Last week, I had the express opportunity to pick up my weekly pulls from the local haunt Isle of Comics. For the uninitiated, a pull list consists of the comics that come out each month that you want to buy. Basically, a pull list helps local comic book dealers know what’s selling and what’s not so as to carry the best selection of books to keep on the stands. As an added benefit to the consumer, local shops (much like Isle) offer discounts for monthly pulls.

My pull list waxes and wanes, mostly focusing on publishers and writers, sometimes I focus on characters. It’s a good time when the two meet.

Always looking for a good deal, my heart skipped a beat to find a half dozen (or more!) longboxes containing various issues on sale for only 50 cents. It would have only been a better day if I had more time to give a good look. Though in a hurry, I had to delve a little deep. John gave me a hard time (though only seeing him sporadically, he knows my excitement for back issues) and I gave him a time limit. I hit the motherload.

I’ve been a big fan of writer Kurt Busiek and painter Alex Ross for years, having read their watershed series Marvels (for Marvel Comics) which follows the rise of superheroes in the Marvel Universe from the eyes of layman un-powered news photographer Phil Sheldon. I caught a slew of issues of Busiek’s creator-owned “”Astro City“” by Image Comics, with art by Brent Anderson.

Starting back in 1996, “Astro City” tells the story of the west coast city of the same name wherein super-powered individuals live in relative harmony alongside the public. “Astro City” is an anthology series focusing not only on the exploits of the costumes, but also those of the man-on-the-street.

The first issue focuses on a random citizen of Astro City who has only just moved in. While he and his family is coming to grips with a proliferance of individuals of the heroic persuasion, the tale volleys back and forth between the day-to-day acceptance of supers as a normal part of life and that of a rollicking slugfest. It was a fresh take back in the day, and even more so now with the glut of comic book movies and television shows seeping into public consciousness.

Both heroes and villains take center stage across issues, making storytelling refreshingly unique. Traditional tropes are upended and reminds me why I fell in love in love with comics in the first place. There aren’t sprawling year-long arcs here: storylines a mostly wrapped up in one or two issues.

“Astro City” is a great introduction to superhero comics without being bogged down by decades of continuity from the big two, without sacrificing story.

“Astro City” is available across a variety of different platforms and publishers, the last iteration was published by DC subsidiary Vertigo which ended last year after fifty issues. Isle of Comics still has their 50 cents issue sale going on strong, with some “Astro City” singles still kicking around.

That is, unless I beat you to them first.

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