Kurt Busiek’s Astro City: Life in the Big City
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Brent Anderson
Covers: Alex Ross
Collects: Kurt Busiek’s Astro City volume 1 #1 – 6 (complete). 1995 – 1996.
Life in the Big City collects the original six issue mini-series of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Astro City is a creator-own project which is set in its own superhero universe, but explores the more human side of super heroes. Stories like:
- How a Superman-like character spends his free time – or does he even get any?
- How does living in a neighborhood inhabited by supernatural creatures and a working in the offices of a group of superheroes affect a normal person’s life?
- If a petty criminal discovers a superhero’s secret identity does it lead to great things or ruin him?
The creators of Astro City pride themselves on the title’s new-reader-friendliness every story is supposed to be a stepping on point. However, this is where it all began, and as such, it truly introduces characters and sometimes even plots that will be explored further later. An example occurs even in this first collection. Any one of the six stories can be read completely independently of the others, but the last of the six builds on the first story, story six can be read alone, but it is even better if you’ve read story number 1.
Comic book super hero fans will instantly recognise the characters. Most of the heroes are analogs of specific heroes or hero types. Not as a homage or as a parody or swipe, but rather to tell stories about these types of characters that cannot be told in the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe.
Non-comic book or superhero fans will recognise the human stories. The point of view character in four of the six stories are normal citizens who are outside of the superhero’s world but touched by it. If you don’t like superheroes fighting villains, don’t worry, this is the story of the reporter who writes about them, the office girl who works for them, or even a hero and a heroine going on a first date. Fights with villains happen, but they are the background, mentioned not focused on, not the true heart of Astro City.
Although the collection is easy to get hold of, what happens if you find individual issues? There are over 60 issues of various Astro City titles, but let’s just look at the first 6 collected in Life in the Big City.
As outlined, all 6 issues are stand alone and can be read without the others, the only exception is issue #6. Although number 6 can be read by itself it works better if you’ve read #1 first. And speaking of #1, you can buy a digital copy free from comixology.
The later issues are collected in 8 (at this time) trade paperbacks, the best two to follow Life in the Big City with, though are:
- Astro City: Family Album – Collects vol 2 #1 – 3, #10 – 13.
- Astro City: Confession – Collects vol 2 #4 – 9 and #1/2. A 6 part story which follows the events of one of the six issues from Life in the Big City.