Astro City: A Visito’s Guide Review

Reviewer: Paul Sebert
Story Title: Having a Wonderful, Our Brightest Stars

Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art by: Brent Anderson, Ben Oliver (Main Story)& too many others to list.
Colored by: Ben Oliver
Lettered by: JG Roshell & Comicraft’s Rob Steen
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: Wildstorm > DC Comics

Let me first say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Astro City. If any single thing could redeem the quagmire of ’90s comics it was Kurt Busiek’s Neo-Classical post card to the Silver Age. A collection of fully believable, but still old fashioned superheroes in a city that felt as if it was alive.

This book continues the grand Astro City tradition by giving the reader just a sliver of the book’s flavor, but alas suffers from an overly high price tag.

This issue opens with a brief 7-page story entitled “Having a Wonderful Time…” about a bored tourist who winds up taking a first-hand part in the revival of powerful villain. The story is charming, and Brent Anderston’s artwork if fantastic but it’s all over too quickly. With a neat little resolution that leaves the main action off camera, we the reader are left with an all too succulent sample of what the Astro City universe has too offer.

The next section of pages follows some excerpts from the fictional city’s visitor’s guide. This includes a selection from a brief history of the city, a guide to the town’s neighborhoods, restaurant reviews, a map of the city, and advertisements. All filled with amusing little snippets about the town and it’s heroes. Did you know the first sittings of Ironhorse The Human Locomotive occurred in the 1860s? Oh and be sure to try the chocolate buttermilk cake at Loony Leo’s.

The real meat of this 1-shot is a collection of pin-ups by an A-list team of artists including Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Jim Starlin, Howard Chaykin, and Darwyn Cooke. These are lovely pieces of work, complimented by brief biographies, and “Astro Facts” about each hero. For instance Winged Victory in addition to being a superhero maintains and runs a series of women’s self-defense training centers nation wide.

Hardcore fans of Astro City, like myself, will probably have already snapped this up, and if you’ve never read any works from Astro City, and you’re willing to shell out for the price, might be in for a treat. However, with it’s expensive $5.95 price tag, I can’t help but get the feeling that DC/Wildstorm really missed a golden opportunity to promote the Astro City Franchise as this would have made a good preview.