Tagged: Astro City

The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #391


I have to admit, the city fathers of Astro City are smart. They won’t tell me where Astro City is. Okay, it’s somewhere on the eastern face of the Rocky Mountains, but that could be anywhere from New Mexico up through Colorado, Wyoming and into Montana. I don’t know which state Astro City’s in. So those smug city fathers think I can’t analyze Astro City stories, because I won’t know which state’s laws to use in the analysis.


I don’t need no stinkin’ laws to analyze the law. I can just make it up as I go along.

Which leads us to Astro City v3, #33 and #34. Hey, it had to be leading us somewhere. Super villainess Cutlass asked retired super villain turned civilian Steeljack for help. Someone was committing crimes and framing Black Masks – the nickname for costumed villains in Astro City – for those crimes. This trend was problematic for Cutlass. And when she was framed, it became an actual problem.

Steeljack and Cutlass investigated and learned that the real culprit was –



Here’s where I give away the things you don’t want me to give away if you haven’t read this story. I, The Spoiler in the aforementioned Spoiler Warning, say, you have been warned.

– Jared Everall.

Who’s Jared Everall? A rich, fan boy collector of super power memorabilia who wanted to play with his wonderful toys, that’s who. So Everall played by committing crimes using super villain weapons in his collection and framing the super villain whose weapons he used.

Like a good little villain, Everall captured Steeljack and Cutlass in issue 33 just in time for the cliffhanger. Like a good little villain, Everall took them to his underwater lair in issue 34. And, like a really good little villain, Everall monologued long enough for Steeljack and Cutlass to escape.

Everall fled the scene, while Steeljack and Cutlass fought Everall’s Black Mask minions. One super powered obligatory fight scene later, Steeljack was ready for the main event; him versus Everall, who was back in his mansion operating some oversized armor by remote control.

Now because Astro City knows how to tell a story in a reasonable two-parts instead of subjecting it to Trade Paperback Stretch, this fight scene didn’t last long. Three pages into it Steeljack made the armor overload.


Steeljack and Cutlass went to Everall’s house to look for proof that he was framing Black Masks. They found the house in a state of disrepair, having sustained damage when the armor overload caused Everall’s remote control to explode. They also found Everall in a state of disrepair, having also sustained damage when the remote control exploded. Everall’s damage was a little more extensive. As in fatal.

Steeljack was arrested and charged with a “long list” of crimes, including Everall’s murder. So there Steeljack was, in court with a public defender who was so new and inexperienced “the tags were still on” her being asked how he pled.

Things looked pretty bleak for Steeljack. That is, until – cue “Park Avenue Beat” – Perry Mason arrived. Only in this story “Perry” was called Randal Sterling and was hired by Cutlass, because Steeljack couldn’t even have afforded to pay that public defender with the tags still on her.

Sterling and Cutlass even brought evidence. Cutlass hired someone to follow them and video record everything. In addition, Cutlass found Everall’s records before the house burned down. So she had the proof that Steeljack didn’t murder Everall, he had acted in self defense and that it was Everall who had committed all the other crimes.

She never bothered to explain why she hadn’t brought any of this evidence to light earlier so that Steeljack didn’t have sit in jail waiting for his day in court. Maybe it wasn’t her fault. Maybe Astro City didn’t have one of those one-hour photo developing huts.

Still the evidence was better late than never. After seeing the evidence, the judge granted Sterling’s motion to dismiss all charges.

Now my question is, all charges? Even the ones he was guilty of like breaking and entering. Because when Steeljack trespassed in Everall’s house to take evidence from it, that’s what he was doing. But my other – and bigger question is this: What kind of court proceeding was Steeljack in where he was both entering his plea and his defense attorney could introduce evidence?

Those two things usually happen in two different proceedings. First there’s a probable cause hearing– we call them preliminary hearings in Ohio – where the prosecution introduces evidence to prove that it has probable cause to charge the defendant with a crime. The defendant is also permitted to introduce evidence in a preliminary hearing. If the judge finds probable cause exists, the defendant is bound over to the grand jury for a formal indictment.

Then sometime after the grand jury indicts comes the arraignment where the court reads the formal charges to the defendant and the defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. No evidence is admitted in an arraignment and no witnesses called, because there are usually dozens of defendants going through the cattle call that is the arraignment room. The arraignment judge doesn’t have the time to let any of the defendants call witnesses. Not when there’s another twenty-seven or so defendants waiting to be arraigned.

In our story, the judge read the charges to Steeljack then asked him how he pled. So it was an arraignment. Then the defense attorney called witnesses and moved to dismiss the charges. So it was a preliminary hearing. It was a prelimment.

So was the scene wrong? The end result was fine. The charges against Steeljack probably would have been dismissed after Sterling introduced his evidence in a preliminary hearing. If the story conflated the arraignment and the preliminary hearing into one proceeding because it didn’t have enough pages to show both, that’s not a big deal. Especially when there’s an actual reason why such a conflation might have occurred.

Steeljack was a high-profile defendant in a high-profile case. Sometimes high-profile defendants are arraigned in private procedures instead of the customary arraignment assembly-line. We did that in Cleveland on more than one high-profile occasion. There’s no reason why Astro City couldn’t do the same thing.

If Steeljack were being arraigned in his own private hearing so the judge didn’t have to arraign two dozen other inmates then the judge could have taken her own sweet time in the hearing. She might even have been willing to listen to the evidence brought into an arraignment. Especially when it was being brought in by a high-profile criminal defense attorney like Randall Sterling.

See Astro City fathers, I may not know where Astro City is, but that won’t stop me. When it comes to my legal analysis, you can hide but you can’t run.

Marc Alan Fishman’s Snarky Synopsis: C.O.W.L. #1

cowlWritten by Kyle Higgens and Alex Siegel, Art by Rod Reis

Glazing over the racks this week, a single book sparked a twinkle in my eye. A bold and graphic cover, with a simple acronym placed  – C.O.W.L. – and it beckoned to me. A closer inspection… Chicago Organized Workers League. A glance inside: A mashup of Mad Men-esque style, combined with capes and my hometown? Sure, Astro City and other books have played plenty in the space. But none that were specific to Chicago. None that name drops streets like Ogden and Wacker and dumps an actual map in its inside cover. Call me soft (and pull back a stump!), but I couldn’t resist. Glad I took the chance, the book is tip-top.

Kyle Higgens and Alex Siegel certainly know their way around pacing. The book itself starts with a beautiful cold open action sequence. A soviet spy/super villain takes a team of heroes along for a ride as he makes way to escape from a botched assassination of a local Alderman. No better way to show case powers these days then the super villain on the run schtick. We meet Blaze, Radia, Arclight, and Recon of the Tactical Division – the SWAT team, if you will. After that, the rest of the book deals mostly with the Investigation and Patrol Division, which have less fancy code names. Higgens and Siegel crib style heavily from Top Ten; but skew less towards the fantastic and astonishing in lieu of gritty realism. The powers are more or less ordinary, it’s really a substance over style in the final presentation. In lesser terms, the writing duo delivers Law & Order by way of X-Men First Class, kept tightly packaged in a single city. It’s slick – but breathes easier because there’s little push to make the scope to wide-lensed after the initial salvo.

If there’s any bones to pick with the script, then they come solely entrenched in the Bechdel Test. The lone lady between the pages barely registers as more than a Sue Storm stand-in. Funny enough too, that she’s marginalized in her single scene moment with the COWL captain. I’ll note. though, that this is clearly a tongue-in-cheek moment. I’ll safely pray is just a set-up for a bigger and smarter payoff in the future.

Normally I’d have more running commentary about the script and dialogue. Frankly, there’s little else to say. But I can attest that the art chores by Rod Reis are plenty worthy of my prose. The presented style is a schizophrenic post-modern Marvel. Part Rotoscoped photos, part digital painting, part scratchboard scrawl, all daringly idiosyncratic. Reis channels Bill Sienkiewicz, Brett Weldele, and Brent Anderson amidst his own unique flashes. At its best the book is a chic and deconstruction of kinetic form and deciphered emotions. In lesser spots, it’s a slap-dashed race to the next panel. As a digital artist myself, it’s hard not to see the easy roads taken in certain shots, but Reis is clever when he hides his tracks. By integrating characters into a Rotoscoped background, and literally smudging them together, he creates a look we’ve seen before, but smartly never in this era.

It’s interesting to me how much I accept Reis’ styling here, over what might be considered a more technically proficient house style book from Marvel or DC. It sets in motion an opinion that has been evolving in my taste over the last year or so. The current trend at the big two – DC more so than Marvel by a magnitude of ten at least – is proportional, slick, and Photoshopped to a squeaky-clean finish worthy of Oxy-Clean. Reis and C.O.W.L. spit in the faces of Superman and his Pine-Sol brethren. Of course when you look at the comparison of artists in the aforementioned paragraph above, it should come as no surprise. But I digress. The fact is that modern technology can quickly suck the life out of a comic book, as talents artists see their pages merely as means to an end. It’s when boundaries are stylistically pushed that the medium shows why it’s still so unique and viable in the marketplace.

When companies choose to churn out the capes and cowls (no pun needed here), and don’t challenge their art teams, we lose. The biggest gripe that carries itself to art critics of our precious comics being ‘kitsch’ come largely due less to the by-the-numbers stories, and more towards the simple, repeated, and dull art. When one can’t tell a Superman comic from an X-Men book, it’s less because of the tight-knit, overly complicated costuming and more because the big-muscled, pin-up, repeats that coat the pages.

However, with Marvel’s recent efforts like She-Hulk, Rocket Raccoon, and Ghost Rider I can see the tides changing. To bring it back to “C.O.W.L.”, Rod Reis proves that when the art takes a chance to add layers of complexity to the script… the book itself becomes infinitely more interesting. Had this book been phoned in by any number of overseas half-price pencilers, inked by a team of cut-rate work-for-hires, and then colored by a finishing service, I doubt I’d be as chipper as I’ve been. Digression over.

Kyle Higgens, Alex Siegel and Rod Reis have captivated me. Sure, I was an easy sell given the real estate buried in the pulp. But beyond the cheap pop of recognizing my hometown, came a stylistic experiment that built up a simply police procedural into a universe building Mad Men with a set of super powers. It’s why Image continues to stand tall with a catalogue of boundary-pushing sequential fiction. Color me happy kiddos, and do yourself a favor and give a gander to the gams on this hot little number.

Marc Alan Fishman: Comics Are Good For Learnin’

So it came to my attention by way of an amazingly nice lass that some forward thinking teacher-types are slowly coming around the bend. Yup, they are looking toward comic books, those evil things, as potential fodder for their classrooms. Gasp! And, as it would seem, this very nice girl asked me – little old me – to give my two cents on the matter. And because I love killing two birds with one stone, I figured this outta make a great li’l rant to share with you, my adoring public. Of course, I realize now I admitted to the glee I feel when I commit aviaricide. Well, there went my fan-base. Tally ho!

I know back in the olden days, comics were largely seen as kitchy wastes of ink and paper. Kids buried in them were potentially violent sociopaths just waiting to commit crimes of laziness. But by the time I was in school they were starting to be called graphic novels. Thanks in large part to the artsy works of Art Spiegelman, Joe Kuburt, and Will Eisner, the medium as a whole was slowly pulling itself out of the low-bro.

That being said, I was never assigned a graphic novel to read for a class. Nor was I able to select one for independent book reports or the like. Even within the realm of studio art classes I was nixed the ability to cite Alex Ross as a major influence without scoffs. But as Bob Dylan sings, “The times, they are a changin’.”

If I were to suggest opening up a classroom to comics, well, it’s a simple issue – do it. Comics are easily one of the best gateways to literacy I can think of. Truth be told, the first books our parents read us (and I’m reading to my own boy now) are gloriously illustrated. Dr. Seuss, a one-time newspaper comics guy, is just panel borders away from sharing shelf space with Daniel Clowes. In the earliest of classroom settings I’d start with the recognizable. Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans is as accessible a comic as I know of. But more than just being kid friendly, the book is funny, bright, and charming. So much so that I was an avid reader of it long before I was even married, let alone a father. And because it uses semi-recognizable super hero sidekicks, it’s easy for kids to relate, and learn to read.

Tiny Titans aside, there’s always Jeff Smith’s tome of toonage, Bone. The long running series blends laughs, mysteries, and adventure. If kids can’t find something to love there? Well, then I’ll eat my hat. Come to think of it, I don’t own hats anymore. Note to self…

Beyond the early readers, the always-tough-to-please nine year olds (perhaps through 13 or 14?) are going to start dividing themselves. Girls have cooties. Boys are messy. The division of the sexes may make many a teacher feel like comic books will degrade into the capes and cowls for the boys and leave nothing for the girls. Nay, I say. Nay! Both the boys and girls can take heed that I myself grew to love comics at this tender age due to the long-running Archie series. And Archie, unlike his more heroic counterparts, seems to have found a way to stay with the times, without diverging into the too-real, too-gritty, or too-angsty. Consider also the Adventures of TinTin. Long before it was a computer-animated movie, it was a comic. A great comic. And don’t we all laugh a bit when we recount the Scrooge McDuck comics of yesteryear? That book was doing Inception long before Chris Nolan was firing up the vomit-comet to film anti-gravity fight scenes.

The real meat and potatoes for me though come right at adolescence. Here, our kids are primed to learn that comics are more than just good fun. The Pulitizer Prize-winning Maus (by the aforementioned Spiegelman), Jew Gangster (by the late and beyond-great Kubert), and A Contract With God (by Will Eisner) all help teach that the medium of comics transcends the super power set. And sure, they all hold quite a bit of Jewish lore to them… so allow me to expand beyond Judaica.

Mike Gold himself turned me on to Stagger Lee by Derek McCulloch and Kings in Disguise by Dan E. Burr. They are both amazing reads. And please, don’t get me wrong – comics at this tender age need not be without a twinge of the supernatural. Watchmen might as well be a high school freshman class in and of itself. Frank Miller’s Sin City and or 300 are far better on page than on screen, and on screen they were both pretty amazing.

And let’s not leave Marvel out of this. Kurt Busiek’s Marvels singlehandedly brought me out of a four year freeze of comic book reading. It’s insightful, and a beautiful take on super heroes from the human perspective. And I’ve little column space left to suggest even more here… Empire by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson, Astro City, Batman: Year One, Runaways and Y: The Last Man all spring to mind. But I digress.

Suffice to say, introducing comics to a literature program shouldn’t be that hard to tackle. The fact is the medium itself makes open discussion far easier to instigate. More work to enjoy than watching a movie, without the scariness of endless pages without something beyond words to look at means less barrier to entry. For those learning to read (or who have trouble with it) comics are a gateway drug to amazing new worlds. For those already well versed in literature, comics offer an endless string of independent authors bringing original takes on the world that combine their plots with art that tends to force us to stop and appreciate. Akin to indie films, comics at any age offer more than the commercial world. Thanks to a bit of knowledge gained at this year’s Harvey Awards (thank you, Ross Ritchie), I leave on this thought:

 “The French codified it well: they call it “The Ninth Art.” The first is architecture, the second sculpture. The third painting, the fourth dance, then there’s music, poetry, cinema, and television. And ninth is comic books.”

Now, the question is: if it is indeed the ninth art of our world, comics should not be considered for the classroom. They should be compulsory.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Trades vs. Monthlies – An Unpopular Stance

It seems when I write pieces here on ComicMix that are good-natured and optimistic, no one cares. When I get hot and bothered (and make sweeping declarations that demand debate), you get excited. So, you want riled up? You got it!

I think the comic book industry as a whole would be better off if it went digital for all monthly titles, and only printed graphic novels.

Settle down, settle down. You’ll have a chance to put me in my place in the comment section. Or you can skip my argument completely, and just go down to the bottom of the page, and start the flame war. Either way, my ego gets fed.

Let’s face it. Making a comic book every month isn’t easy. If it was, Justice League wouldn’t be two weeks late. But wasn’t there a big hard-and-fast rule in place stating no book would be delivered late, lest the creative team be removed for one that could keep up? Well I guess that only applies to talent who don’t exclusively work for the parent company, and have “Chief” on their business cards. But I digress.

Most comic books these days are “written for the trade.” Almost every cape on the racks today get four to six issues of a singular plot-line that crescendos into a final epic conclusion. Then, if we’re lucky, a one-shot to settle things down to the status quo. And the cycle repeats. In the case of other books (Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man comes to mind) these arcs could last up to a year or even longer. This means that every month you get a bite of the candy bar. Wouldn’t it be nice to just eat the whole damned thing all at once? In an medium where the end product is sum of many parts, having all those parts only stands to make the whole piece better.

Brian Michael Bendis may physically have a disease preventing him from writing a book that isn’t deconstructed. And frankly, who disagrees that he works best in the bigger picture? I won’t ever buy singular issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s too good in trade. The same goes for many other books I happen to get (or borrow with frequency); Invincible, The Sandman, Astro City, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Fables… need I go on? In all of those cases, and so many more, collecting a book into a longer format makes for a more enjoyable experience. And when a trade it released, there is no waiting for that next chapter. I know there’s a massive caveat to that one folks, but I think the point is clear enough.

But Marc, you plea… If the industry went straight-to-trade, comic book shops would simply close up and die. Because right now, most comic book stores I know are so swamped with business they don’t even carry trades. Or action figures. Or magic cards. Or D+D. Or host local bands. Or have organized book clubs. The fact is, store owners lose more money stocking their shelves with every monthly book that comes out, and subsequently not sell them, then do they on carrying trades. One store in particular, Challengers Comics + Conversations in Chicago, told Unshaven Comics that they would only carry our book when it became a trade.

When I was told this by the very cool owner, my eyebrow raised. “We do far more business in trades than we do in monthlies man, sorry.” They even have a “Library” subscription where so many dollars a month guarantees you access to shelves of trades to “check out.” If I were a commuter and lived anywhere near the store, I’d be on that like Michael Davis on an Asian GoGo Dancer. My point being that brick and mortar stores could augment their current offerings and not lose their leases.

Monthly books allow fans to “sample” a title before committing to it. And those who follow along with my reviews (over on Michael Davis World, plug plug plug) know that recently I’ve committed to a “two bad issues in a row means I drop the title” policy. Thus far, that means I’ve dropped JLI, Red Lanterns, Green Lanterns: New Guardians, The Fury of Firestorm, and Irredeemable. If my dream came true, wouldn’t that mean I would stand to lose more money buying a multi-issue trade for a series I’d be unhappy with? I’m willing to eat crow on that one. To a point. You see, in the cases of all those books I listed, they all suffered from the same problems.

Predictable plots hampered by a repetitious narrative structure, or incoherent direction on the whole. As an example, Fury of Firestorm(s?) issue to issue took the same plot point (Danger! Transformation! Hitting!) and regurgitated it three times in a row. Through the fatigue, it becomes clear; the entire first arc takes place over one or two nights. Read as a whole though, the pacing wouldn’t be as troublesome to me. And in the case of JLI, where the plot was as by-the-books as you could get… I would contest that taken in 1 large chunk, it’s far easier to enjoy the staple “assemble the team and fight the giant evil” plotline when it’s not broken up into six parts. Especially when it fights for my attention with better-written monthlies like Batman, Action Comics, or Fantastic Four.

It’s a big argument, one that I hypocritically don’t even support on the other side of the aisle. Unshaven Comics made the decision to release issues in lieu of trades. But that, as Alton Brown would say, is for another show. I’d like to think I’ve given you enough to mull over. So, go ahead my bubbalas. Talk amongst yourselves. I’m getting a little verklempt. Trades vs. Monthlies… Discuss!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Brent Anderson Artwork Stolen, Reward Offered

Brent Anderson had a lot of his art stolen in San Diego. His car was broken into at the San Diego Zoo and the following original art was stolen:

  • 50 pages from Astro City Vols. 1 & 2 & Local Heroes;
  • Astro City: Dark Age Books 1 (#s 1-4), 2 (#s 1-4) & 3 (#s 1-4) (50 pages).
  • Green Lantern: Legacy approx. 45 pages between pages 1-45;
  • Green Lantern Silver Age Special (approx. 4 pages);
  • GL/Plastic Man team-up special (approx. 8 pages);
  • Rising Stars #s 15-24 (approx. 48 pages)”

One fan has offered a reward for the pages, just to get them back to Brent.

Please share this to as many venues as possible, to get the thief caught and the art returned.

DC Comics In Upheaval

DC Comics In Upheaval

In a statement released this morning on DC’s The Source Blog, DC Comics is continuing to clean house and as they put it… “Build a company for the future.” Let’s take a second to see where exactly the axe is falling, and what that future may look like.

The first major change Lee and DiDio mention is the increase of production over at MAD Magazine, which now publishes on a bimonthly schedule. In addition to the increase there, obviously they are branching the brand out with the aforementioned new cartoon show.

Past this bit of news though, it seems DC is ending an era or three within its offices and engaging in some heavy corporate streamlining.

First, everything non-comics will be making the move to the left
coast. The folks at ComicsBeat covered it well, but the basic gist is simple: many folks may be looking for new work come the new year as anything related to the development and production of feature films, television,
digital media, video games and consumer products (all of DC Direct, for example) as well as the
company’s administrative functions moves to a Warner Bros.-managed
property in Burbank, where they can consolidate all the overlap of those departments with WB Consumer Products and the like. It’s not clear yet whether this will include comics sales and marketing.

Next, Wildstorm is closing down and being absorbed into DC. As they said:

After taking the comics scene by storm nearly 20 years ago, the
WildStorm Universe titles will end this December. In this soft
marketplace, these characters need a break to regroup and redefine what
made them once unique and cutting edge. While these will be the final
issues published under the WildStorm imprint, it will not be the last we
will see of many of these heroes. We, along with Geoff Johns, have a
lot of exciting plans for these amazing characters, so stay tuned. Going
forward, WildStorm’s licensed titles and kids comics will now be
published under the DC banner.

Essentially this means that the Wildstorm Universe will simply be known as “Earth 238” or whatever number Grant Morrison assigns it. DC will allow time for readers to forget about Grifter, Maul, Spartan, Fairchild, and the other lost boys and girls in the Wildstorm Universe… and come back with a few Brand New Amazing Mini Series with hope that those feeling nostalgic for big biceps, bigger guns, and really big boobs will revive the now dying universe of characters.

Also, let’s not forget the other imprints of Wildstorm, including Homage Comics (Astro City), and the Alan Moore founded America’s Best Comics (Tom Strong, Promethea)… all of which is currently up in the air. Astro City creator Kurt Busiek was quoted as saying: “They haven’t said anything yet about creator-owned Wildstorm books.
Presumably they want to talk to us first. And right now, they’re busy
absorbing what this means for them. So I doubt I’ll know anything for a
day or two.”

Bleeding Cool has the best take I’ve seen on Wildstorm’s death of a thousand cancellations.

Note also that with this move, the editorial staff at Wildstorm will be undergoing a “restructuring” as well. It will be “folded into the overall DC Comics Digital team, based in Burbank…” While we don’t know specifically what restructuring will occur, obviously, it seems the team will shrink in its cross country move from Manhattan to L.A. Makes us wonder if DC was promised a shot at The Tonight Show as well.

Next to fall? To no one’s surprise, ZUDA. The webcomic imprint, which had its site shut down back in July, will cease to be after this week. As they said:

After this week, we will cease to publish new material under the ZUDA
banner. The material that was to have been published as part of ZUDA
this year will now be published under the DC banner. The official
closing of ZUDA ends one chapter of DC’s digital history, but we will
continue to find new ways to innovate with digital, incorporating much
of the experience and knowledge that ZUDA brought into DC.

ZUDA, which had very little going for it by way of mainstream popularity or attention, doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. With webcomic giants like Scott Kurtz and the boys at Penny Arcade doing just fine, the ZUDA project never really found its legs, past the success of one of it’s initial offerings, Bayou, by Jeremy Love.

The DCU Source Blog in question ends with a long blurb about the future of the company, and it’s increased focus on the “digital initiative”. They even go on to note their happiness at the success of their current digital offerings, which bring in “…anecdotal stories of lapsed readers returning to the art form and
of brick and mortar stores gaining new customers who sampled digital
comics.” We here at ComicMix would love to talk to some of those folks and hear said stories, because we’ve not been privy to any “I gave up paper comics with the Death of Superman, read Action Comics #701 on ComiXology, and rushed back to my local brick and mortar store that stayed in business during those 18 or so years, to start buying comics again!” stories.

As more turns up on this, we here at ComicMix will let you know. Stay tuned…

Review: ‘Astro City: Dark Age’ by Kurt Busiek

Kurt Busiek’s brain is about average-sized, I assume. And yet it contains this entire city, detailed down to every last resident’s personality and scrap of trash in the street.

His mastery of [[[Astro City]]] is on full display in the latest collection of the WildStorm series, The Dark Age ($29.99). Busiek ventures back to the not-so-pleasant past to tell the story of two brothers who go on very different paths amidst the chaos of superheroes and villains.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of superhero stories told in a down-to-earth way, or viewed from the average man’s perspective, maybe most notably in Busiek’s acclaimed [[[Marvels]]] with Alex Ross (who provides the killer cover at right). Neither of those elements is what sets Astro City apart, though they fuel its success.

Rather, its the depth to which Busiek explores the brothers’ lives (and those of everyone else). Charles and Royal Williams go through childhood tragedy and end up on opposite ends of the law.

Each is plagued in his own way by the super-powered element, with the bombastic battles tearing Astro City apart.


Review: This Week in ‘Trinity’ – Part 3

It’s time we talked about Kurt Busiek.

He’s the brain behind this weekly operation and, in case you’re new to comics, he’s one hell of a writer. And there’s one particular quality that sets him apart.

His comics matter.

I don’t mean this in the sense that he does event comics (although Trinity certainly qualifies as such). What distinguishes a Kurt Busiek comic book has always been that he immediately instills the material with a sense of importance.

His big projects, like Marvels and Astro City, are perfect examples, but even in his post-Infinite Crisis take on Aquaman Busiek quickly remade that book into one that had to be read, and had to be taken seriously.

I say all this because, for a few reasons, I don’t get that sense from Trinity. So far, DC’s latest weekly series does not feel important. So far, it doesn’t matter. 


Jim Mooney: 1919-2008

Jim Mooney: 1919-2008

Paul Kupperberg tipped me off, Mark Evanier has the news: Jim Mooney, the incredibly prolific penciller and inker of everything from A-Team to World’s Finest, passed away over the weekend.

Jim was best known for his work on Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes in the sixties and Spider-Man in the seventies, but his career spanned from the forties to the nineties, as early as the Eisner-Iger shop and as late as Astro City.

Here, we have a self portrait of himself that he slipped into The Spectacular Spider-Man #41.

He will be dearly missed.

Glyph Awards nominees announced

Rich Watson has announced the nominees in the second annual Glyph Comic Awards, honoring the best in black comics and creators.  The awards ceremony will be held at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) on May 18-19 at Temple University’s Anderson Hall in Philadelphia.  Besides Rich, the other judges will be Johanna Draper Carlson, Pam Noles, Calvin Reid and Hannibal Tabu.

There is one fan-based award for favorite black comic in a poll to be posted at the ECBACC website for the month of March.  Fans can write in their choice or select from the following nominees:

Black Panther: The Bride, Reginald Hudlin, Scot Eaton & Klaus Janson

Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre, Will Pfeifer & Cliff Chiang

Firestorm #28-32, Stuart Moore, Jamal Igle & Keith Champagne

New Avengers #22, Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Francis Yu

Storm, Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin & Lan Medina and Jay Leisten & Sean Parsons