Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Astro City #1

Next up on the list is another homage I know little about: The Samaritan from Astro City.  He’s a time traveler who gained his abilities through traveling in time. Kurt Busiek's Astro City is a series that was created by Kurt Busiek In the mid-1990’s. The series looks at a variety of heroes, villains, and regular people in this universe. A lot of it homages different characters from comics. It’s been shipped around to different publishers like Image and Vertigo. I found the first trade at McKay’s sometime ago. I knew about the character and series, so I wanted to pick this up. I actually found an old leaf in the trade and it’s still there now. I guess whoever owned it was a leaf fan.

I’ve decided to look at the first issue in the trade since it focuses on the Samaritan.  The whole trade was written by Kurt Busiek. The pencils and inks were done by Brent Anderson. The colors were done by Steve Buccelatto and Electric Color. Lettering is done by Richard Starkings and Comicraft. Alex Ross was behind the covers to the series and even helped out with the designs of the characters.

Astro City #1
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson
Colors: Steve Buccelatto and Electric Color
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft

“In Dreams”
The whole issue is basically a day in the life of the Asa Martin, aka The Samaritan. The story starts out as his Zxyometer (his advanced tech) wakes him up from a dream. He suits up and heads overseas to stop a tsunami. After a couple of more stops, he changes into his civilian identity and goes to work as a fact-checker for the news magazine, Current. Since his office is pretty isolated and cut off, he sets his Zyxometer to do the job for him while he goes and does his hero thing. After some saves, he heads back to his office to go off for lunch.

Instead of going off and actually taking a break, he gets back into his pajamas (well, they look like pajamas!) and heads to the meeting place of the Honor Guard, this world’s superhero team. They go through their usual meeting process, set up equipment, and even foil a bank robbery in Astro City. The Samaritan then heads back to his office since he hears his boss coming. She hands him files on an article that the magazine is doing for the most beautiful women in the city. Instead of passing it to the Zyxometer, Asa takes care of this himself and thinks about the life he’s giving up for this world.

After work, he heads to a benefit in his name. After he gets his award and does a speech, he heads back to his place and puts his award in a pocket dimension. He’s even got other awards there too. After this, he eventually gets into a fight with a being made of pure anger and rage. Since it absorbs the energy of its opponents, the Samaritan is getting a run for his money. It ultimately leads him to fly it into space and throw the thing towards the sun. After this tough battle, he heads back to his apartment to finally rest. The story ends with Asa dreaming about flying.


I thought this was a nice issue and good intro to this world. This was basically “A Day in the life” story. There have been a lot of stories that feature superheroes going through this sort of thing. I know I’ve read a couple where we see Superman’s day. I thought this introduced the Samaritan and this world quite well. We see how he does his thing and get into his head pretty well. He’s a hero who really never gives himself a break as we see here. The writing and dialogue was pretty good overall.

The artwork was pretty good for the most part. It doesn’t look like something you’d normally see with superhero comics. Instead of looking bright, it looks a little muted. The artwork has a bit of surreal feel to it at times while having a realistic touch. The colors definitely add to that surreal feel the book’s going for. While I liked the Samaritan, I’m not a big fan of his suit. As I said before, they look like pajamas at times. If it had a bit more separation (I guess that’s the word) in the lower regions, I’d probably like it more. I do like how the cape is though. It’s got a Roman feel to it.

Overall, I thought this was pretty good. Instead of centering on other heroes, most of the trade looks at the regular people in this universe and how they react to it all. The last issue (#6) looks at a date between the Samaritan and Winged Victory, a Wonder Woman homage. It’s also where we get his origin. I don’t know what happens with the character or this world after this trade, so it looks like I have even more to read one of these days. Well, that’s another homage down and possibly a few to go. Peace, God Bless, and don’t be a workaholic.


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