Astro City:
Family Album

Kurt Busiek, writer,
Brent E. Anderson, artist
(Homage, 1998)

The exploration of Astro City continues in the second collection of tales from Kurt Busiek's new universe. Like its predecessor, Family Album allows most of the superheroics to occur in the background while the stories focus instead on the people behind the masks as well as those Astro City residents who are affected by the heroes' presence and actions.

The first tale in this volume introduces us to a single father and two daughters who have just moved to Astro City. There, he is confronted by the wonder -- and danger -- of living in a place with a higher than usual population of costumed heroes and villains, and he must decide if he wants his daughters growing up in such an environment. Then he notices the effect Astro City has had on the people around him.

Next, we meet Astra, the youngest member of the mighty First Family team of heroes. Although gifted with superior intelligence and amazing electricity-based powers, she longs for a normal child's life and will try anything to experience it.

The Junkman is an elderly, gimmicky villain who pulls the perfect heist -- and realizes the taste of victory is none too sweet when there's no one to appreciate what he's done. Jack-in-the-Box is a devil-may-care hero until the reality of fatherhood makes him rethink his chosen profession. And Leo is a cartoon character brought to life, unable to cope with an unfamiliar reality.

Once again, Busiek has gifted readers with a refreshing new approach to the superhero genre. His stories, no less marvelous and "unreal" that anything else on the market, has a true-life feel which is rare in his field.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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