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Astro City: Life in the Big City (Kurt Busiek's Astro City) [Paperback]

Kurt Busiek
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1998 Kurt Busiek's Astro City
Volumes 1-6 of "Kurt Busiek's Astro City" are collected in this volume that also includes a sketchbook showing the development of Astro City a cover gallery of cover paintings.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: D C Comics (a division of Warner Brothers - A Time Warner Entertainment Co.); Gph edition (31 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156389551X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563895517
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 16.9 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 809,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip into a fabulous place 23 Mar 2001
Following an endless amount of praise for Astro City, from all corners, I dived in. Incredibly mild upon first reading but left alone for a time and then re-read, it all "clicked" for me. A very honest, heartfelt, beautiful book, that evokes reflection in oneself, which is no mean feat. A tremendous portrayal of a living breathing city, described from the viewpoints of humans and heroes alike, with the twist that the city itself is the principal player.
The reader is treated to a dazzling breadth of imagination and detail as Kurt Busiek creates a fantasy universe which feels correct and complete in every way. Astro City has a history and a future lovingly crafted with good humour and some fine nods to DC and Marvel. Kurt's love for the superhero as a symbol of something wonderful shines through, and yet he manages to turn even that on it's head, through some fantastically fresh approaches.
This first book contains all of Volume One (six issues) that sets up threads and characters for the future stories, which I felt slightly lost with at first, but given time it all slots into place and can be returned to time and again. If anything, this book utterly compelled me to seek out the subsequent issues.
Without giving anything away, I suppose I should say what it's all about! It's about...well, Life in the Big City. What does it mean to be a citizen of Astro City?
"Wow, there are people flying up there."
"Wow, I'm flying up here."
The art is sublime and the covers by Alex Ross are upto his usual standards, i.e. breathtaking.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Life in the Big City is just too much!!! 6 Oct 2009
By Tubby
First off let me say that the concept of Astro City is fantastic. A superb set-up for Busiek to develop a fully realised city full of intrigue and drama. However, we are thrown head first into Astro city life and for me it was too much too soon. I really wanted and expected this volume to establish the city - its history, politics etc but instead we get 6 independent stories. I suspect that because of my high expectations for this edition (which won an Eisner award for best new series) I was always going to be disappointed.

I can see that with this volume Busiek is showing us that Astro City has a diversity of beings, cultures and locations in an attempt to demonstrate the cities sense of scale. However, I fill that this sets the reader up for a slight fall - as Astro City (which is surely the the main player in this) is given 2nd place (in the 1st volume) to its inhabitants. To many characters are thrown at you and I feel the need for things to slow down. All in all I feel that Life in the Big City should not have been the volume to kick off what should be (hopefully) a fascinating series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant! 4 Dec 2002
Unlike previous 80s deconstruction period, the idea here is not "What life would be like if superheroes existed in real life" but rather "How we would live in the world with superheroes" - or at least in the city of superheroes.
Witty, human and involving stories. Great re-read value!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Basically a rehash of Marvels 13 July 2013
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
A couple of years ago I tried reading Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross' Marvels, a book I was assured was a superhero classic and an incredible comic. It feels like superheroes could exist in our world! is the general sentiment around that book. I got about a third of the way through before I gave up. Terrible art - I don't like Ross' ultra-realistic painted style, the figures are too static - and boring characters telling unimpressive superhero stories made me drop the book long before the end.

More recently I read Superman: Secret Identity and finally saw why Busiek is praised, so I decided to try another of his books, the critically acclaimed Astro City from 1995. I got further than I did with Marvels but I also gave up on this one too - it's essentially Marvels with a different artist.

The city is full of Busiek-created superheroes, all of them analogues of DC/Marvel characters (and forgettable to boot) and the chapters are told from the perspective of different narrators in the fictional town of Astro City. The comparison to Marvels isn't immediately apparent as the first story is told from the perspective of the Superman analogue but from then on we get a string of ordinary people telling you their stories encountering superheroes in their everyday lives, one of whom - the newspaper editor - seemed exactly like the Marvels narrator.

It doesn't help that the narrators are bland and uninteresting or that the superheroes are equally dull, but the stories feel decidedly one note - narrator tells you their ordinary life, a superhero saves them from a crime of some sort, the end. It's exactly the same formula as Marvels minus the Alex Ross art, though Brent Anderson's art is a long way from impressive either.

It's not that it's badly written, it's just a really dull read. I suppose if Marvels is your bag, you'll love Astro City - if like me you didn't enjoy Marvels, you definitely won't like this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for fans of the superhero genre 10 Nov 2000
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on
The comic book adventures of costumed superheroes represent a specialized genre of literature that has been around for decades. Every so often a new work comes around that truly represents a new high point in the field. Such a work is "Kurt Busiek's Astro City: Life in the Big City," an intelligently written and spectacularly illustrated volume that tells the story of a remarkable group of superheroes.
"Life" is actually a collection of six interrelated stories, each of which stands on its own as a fine piece of comic book art. Together the six tales present a stunning portrait of the fictional Astro City, a postmodern metropolis teeming with costumed superheroes, sinister supervillains and other memorable characters. Among the many heroes we meet are Samaritan, the almost godlike caped hero with a tragic past; Winged Victory, a flying superwoman with a feminist twist; the Hanged Man, a mysterious figure who maintains a silent protective vigil; and Jack-in-the-Box, a demonic-looking clown with a number of high-tech tricks up his sleeve.
But just as compelling are the "ordinary" citizens of Astro City: veteran reporter Elliot Mills, legal clerk Marta, and the other working folks whose lives are lived in the shadow of the supermen.
"Life in the Big City" smoothly blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and social commentary. Well-written dialogue is complemented by a wealth of memorable images... The stories explore such thought-provoking issues as ethnic identity and the anxiety of assimilation, gender politics, and the psychology of paranoia. One of the compilation's best tales, "The Scoop," is a witty and surprising parable about journalistic ethics.
The book length comic, or graphic novel, is a rich genre whose practitioners have produced some outstanding classics in recent years. The intelligence, visual power, and moral integrity of "Life in the Big City" elevate it to that distinguished company.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breathing new life into a tired genre 31 Dec 2000
By John Dennett - Published on
For those seasoned veterans of comic book fandom, Kurt Busiek's Astro City series is a breath of fresh air in a stuffy, over-crowded room.
Far from the deconstructionist bent of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, et al, Busiek *loves* superheroes and all the accompanying absurdity. His goal, as eloquently expressed in his introduction to this volume, is to explore the as yet uncharted themes, metaphors and plots while holding dear all of the magic and power of what came before.
While Astro City may prove a bit frustrating for a comics newcomer, it's a warm and inviting destination for the weary superhero fan.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Busiek and Co. breathe new life into superheroes 20 Oct 2001
By Dave Thomer - Published on
There are many smart people in comics who argue that the superhero genre is totally spent, stuck recycling old stories and old archetypes and doomed to tell superficial power fantasies, no matter how much the hot new creators of the moment try to dress them up.
Kurt Busiek's Astro City proves these critics wrong. In Astro City, Busiek, Anderson and Ross have created a wonderfully rich setting, a city with a history and character of its own that feels as real and as diverse as any American city. The only difference is that Astro City is full of superpowered individuals, and has been for at least 75 years. Some of these characters are allegories for established heroes published by DC and Marvel - analogues for Superman, Wonder Woman and the Fantastic Four (among others) appear in this volume. Others are wholly original creations, allowing Busiek to take various archetypes in new directions.
Each chapter in Life in the Big City is a standalone short story, highlighting different corners of this fictional universe. The city's leading superhero tries to be everywhere at once, and berates himself for every wasted second as he longs for just a moment of his own. A small time hood learns a hero's secret identity, and tries to figure out how to profit from the knowledge. A beat reporter gets some advice from his editor on his first day on the job. A young woman tries to balance the demands of her family with her own hopes and desires. Despite the fantastic settings, the characters in these slice-of-life stories feel like real people, and that gives the stories real power.
Anderson and Ross do a fine job with the visual design and storytelling here; Anderson's style is steady, dramatic without being flashy. The character designs are well-thought; simple and elegant where necessary, flamboyant and even campy where that is a better fit. There are no wildly confusing panel layouts, but action flows nicely from page to page and the characters' faces and body language convey their thoughts and feelings well, so Busiek doesn't need to overscript.
Don't let the spandex fool you. These are stories about the human heart, and they're GOOD stories, well worth reading.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Future 2 Aug 2000
By Jeffrey A. Veyera - Published on
Remember when comics were fun?
Back before the Dark Knights, the relentless violence, the angst? When people donned ludicrous outfits and fought for truth, justice, and the American way?
Kurt Busiek does, and he's provided an all-expenses-paid trip to Astro City, where the superhero comics of yesteryear live anew.
As with Alan Moore's "Watchmen", you won't recognize the heroes and villains, but you know them nonetheless---Samaritan, Winged Victory, Crackerjack, the Honor Guard. Simple, classic heroes who immediately bond to the imaginations of comic fans.
The story here is simple, straightforward, and infused with a joy that would make Garth Ennis throw up. Whatever happened to the comics you didn't mind your kids reading?
If you prefer your comics to be uplifting and life-affirming, as opposed to the relentless bleakness of the various X-titles, stop by "Astro City." You'll be glad you did.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillent Work 9 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on
As the year 2000 dawns upon us. comics have really declined in story quality. DC has pretty much destroyed it's universe, and Image is all artwork and no story. But with Astro City, Kurt Buiesk has restored the fun and sense of wonder from the Golden and Silver ages of comics. The Astro City heroes are written as human beings learnig to use their powers in a constructive manner. They want to do the right thing and the choics are not always easy.It's the humanity of the chareters which makes Astro City so good.
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