Review: Astro City #52 (FINAL ISSUE)

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Artist: Brent Anderson

Cover: Artist: Alex Ross

 

Summary

It’s the final issue of ASTRO CITY…for now. Michael Tenicek lost his world years ago. Now he may lose another, as ordinary life among the extraordinary takes a shattering turn. A character-focused finale to the ongoing Vertigo ASTRO CITY series, and a launch point for its new form. Guest-starring the Hanged Man, Honor Guard and more.

 

Positives

For the final story arc of this incarnation of Astro City, Busiek has given us a direct continuation of an early story from 1996 in Astro City #1/2. In that story, Michael Tenicek loses his wife when time is rewritten due to a superhero battle involving time travel.

Just the fact that this is a direct sequel to an earlier story marks it as something special, as Busiek rarely does so in this title. Protagonists may reappear as supporting players, but Astro City rarely retreads old ground, instead moving on to new and different stories.

However, this is fitting for what is the final installment of Astro City as a monthly or bi-monthly title. Michael goes through a process that’s familiar to all of us. He remembers and acknowledges what he has lost, but then he has to resume his normal daily life and look towards the future again.

This is especially fitting as the reader is in a similar situation, facing the series end. We get a fond look back at an earlier story, but the story reminds us that time has past since then, and now we have to deal with the title’s demise and look to its future incarnations.

And Astro City does have a future. Busiek will continuing it as a series of standalone graphic novels, starting with Astro City: N-Forcement, coming sometime next year. Also there are reports that an Astro City TV show is also in the works, so there’s no need to be heartbroken that this series has reached its conclusion.

As always, Anderson’s art remains as fantastic and well-suited to the title as it’s ever been. And Alex Ross’ cover for this issue is outstanding, which is saying a lot as his artwork is always amazing.

 

Negatives

At first, it seemed a bit jarring that the story ended with a plug for Astro City: N-Forcement, as Busiek has never done this before. Usually one storyline ends conclusively, and the next issue starts the next story arc fresh, with no segue between the two.

However, given that the story ends with a look into the future, a hint at the next storyline does fit thematically. And considering the high quality this series has maintained for over two decades, we can surely forgive Busiek plugging the next chapter.

 

Verdict

Astro City is one of the best books in comics, and has been since it’s beginnings in the 90s. In this day and age, it is an almost unheard of feat for a creative team to stick with a title for this long, but to do so and maintaining such a high level of quality is astounding. Thanks Kurt, Brent, and Alex. I look forward to the next phase of Astro City next year.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.