A couple weeks ago, I suggested an Astro City reading project, hopefully finishing the series by the end of 2018. That's a hundred issues in 323 days. I think we can do it!
I'll take the first volume, but I may need some help from fellow readers, because I know for a fact that I won't be able to be thoughtful enough to lead the discussion all year long.
For now, I'll start with volume one, issue one. Everybody jump in! (If this is your kind of thing...)
Vol. 1, Issue 1.
This original issue premiered in August of 1995 (probably came out in June of that year). It was written by Kurt Busiek, drawn by Brent Anderson, and lettered by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. At the time, many of the coolest comics were lettered by Comicraft. Cover is by Alex Ross, who also does a whole lot of character designs throughout this book's life. Steve Buccellato does the colors. It is collected in a trade that contains the first six issues, titled Welcome to the Big City.
This book opens up a whole new world full of super-heroes. They are heavily influenced by the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of comics.
The first issue features the Samaritan, who has fairly been compared to Superman. He has been sent from the future to stop something from happening. I will never forget my "oh, $%&#" moment when I saw that the "something" was stopping the Challenger Space Shuttle from being destroyed.
I loved this issue, but not because of the main story. I loved how it gave us a little taste of what's to come, and with so many different characters being explored in this first six issues, it didn't take long to get a payoff.
Does anyone else have further thoughts on issue one? I do, but I don't want to hog the discussion.
Don't be afraid to share your thoughts. I know for myself that I often feel I'm too terse in my reactions to the issue at hand.
Anyway, here are my thoughts about issue #1:
* The whole flying bit really resonated with me. Having all of that power and not really being able to enjoy it really humanizes the Samaritan.
* I don't know if Busiek quite had Quarrel's voice right just yet. She becomes much more reticent later on.
- I like Cleopatra being the Hercules stand-in here.
* The Honor Guard meeting was a nice touch. One presumes that the Avengers and Justice League meetings are similar.
* Samaritan's loneliness also resonates with me.
* He has an interesting mix of Superman and Spider-Man's powers, particularly in terms of the Empyrean Web.
* One of the things I really enjoy about Astro City is how the citizens welcome their heroes. I know it's not always the case and that there will be instances where they will turn on them, but here it's welcome, especially given that this sort of thing seems to have gone out of style in superhero comics.
* I like the Living Nightmare. I understand why more hasn't been done with him but I'd still love to see more.
I absolutely agree about the Honor Guard meeting.
One thing I don't think I remembered about the first time is that these were the first appearances of The Living Nightmare, Beautie, and Quarrel. I didn't start reading this book until a few issues in, but then I quickly went back and read these first few issues. That may have fuzzed up my memory--that plus the fact that I had a stroke in 2006, which was between now and back when I would have read this. I am always finding things that I don't remember at all as a result.
When I bought the first issue of Astro City I was already sold on Busiek, having read and loved Marvels.
Samaritan is an interesting take on Superman. The quandry is that he is aware of all of the things, big and small, that demand his attention. If he enjoys lunch with friends, lives will be lost, so he has no personal life.
I like that we are dumped into this world and introduced to several heroes with no immediate explanation. We are "the man on the street" looking at heroes and events without insider information.
The name Samaritan, of course, is derived from the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, indicating someone who is willing to help anyone. A Samaritan was a native of Samaria and an adherent of an opposing Bible to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Samaritans were "the other" and were generally despised by the larger Jewish community, which was in turn despised by the Samaritans. So Jesus used the parable as an example of loving one's neighbor.