Can we clone Kurt Busiek, please? The man has written great Astro City comics for what seems like decades (has it been decades?) and I’d love it if he continued on for a few more. Over the last few issues, Busiek has revealed more when it comes to music themed heroes in Astro City, and in this issue a lot of that pays off and comes together.
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“WHAT BROKE THE BROKEN MAN?” part one of two! Astro City’s tangled history of superheroes, music, counterculture, serpents, and darkness comes to a head. Heroes are destroyed, minds are shattered…and an unlikely savior rises.
Why does this book matter?
Busiek has always been great at origin stories. His ability to build on and make a superhero feel fresh is unparalleled and he’s proven how good he is at it over and over. He does it again this issue!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The Broken Man opens this issue and he’s back to talking to the reader and making promises. Busiek uses him to tease what’s to come a bit, but before we get there he introduces a music-based hero who has quite a story to be revealed. Tying this character (who is both a ‘she’ and a ‘he,’ which adds another layer to it entirely) to a writer friend who wants to tell Glam’s story to the world allows Busiek to add in a complexity via outside research. As the story progresses Glam is tied expertly to previous music themed heroes, which create an intriguing premise. If you’re a fan of music (who isn’t?) you’re going to dig what Busiek is doing here. As the years pass and music changes, Busiek postulates that maybe a musical hero would change too. That concept is used to full effect here, leading to a cliffhanger that’s pretty damn cool. In one fell swoop, Busiek is making the case for all music being great and needed (counter-culture art is important!) and he does it very deftly here with superheroes.
Brent Anderson draws another well-rendered issue that’s realistic and quite good at grounding the supernatural concepts. If you can make a glowing white superhero named Glam seem realistic, you’re doing something right! As Glam comes to grips with what comes next, Anderson draws a fantastic full page spread of a darkness that intends to impeach on Glam that’s wonderful. The size of the shadow compared to Glam is epic and helps convey the dark cloud that Glam faces. In an incredible panel, Anderson draws a single eye watching Glam and it’s not unlike a whale’s eye. It’s all knowing, calm, and yet powerful. It helps convey the war Glam will be waging internally.
A cool look to this hero.
It can’t be perfect can it?
One could argue the Broken Man portion, which takes up four or so pages, drags the issue a bit and acts like filler. Hell, the Broken Man even mentions comics are too short, which seems to be Busiek admitting he has to get on with the story already. These pages certainly add to the fourth wall breaking magic of this series, but a full four pages seems extravagant.
Is It Good?
An excellent story and premise. Kurt Busiek once again proves he’s a master of superhero ideas, writing a grounding story that ties incredibly well into the zeitgeist we live in.