“Astro City” #8 continues the first full-fledge multi-part story with the series’ return, and so far Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson are demonstrating that there was a good reason for this to not be a single issue. As forces continue to circle around Winged Victory, this story is becoming extremely uncomfortable, and that’s almost certainly by design.
Busiek’s script for “Astro City” #8 mixes superheroics with social exploration, something that Busiek’s always been good at. If you view this strictly from a superhero perspective, “Astro City” #8 has more than enough to offer. The Confessor’s infiltration of Winged Victory’s base, the flashback to why a young man would come to her for help, the fight between Samaritan and Confessor. It moves at a nice pace, and it continues to not only flesh out the world of “Astro City” but also gives us more on all three heroes.
What’s more interesting, though, is the story that Busiek’s telling about the mistrust that is continuing to grow regarding Winged Victory and her mission statement with helping other women. A good point is being made here about how a lot of the mistrust is entirely gender-based, and how some are feeling threatened by her presence. It’s a problem that can very easily be mapped onto our own world and the ideas and values that we share. It’s part of what makes “Astro City” continue to work so well; it’s not just that it has analogies to popular heroes, but rather that Busiek is able to explore the human psyche even as it’s transplanted into a fantastical setting.
Anderson’s art is very good here; I love how he tackles the punk fashions from the flashback regarding Aunt Peggy, for instance, or the sad expression on Winged Victory’s face as Samaritan first discovers the Confessor even as we learn why Confessor’s presence didn’t trigger anything. And for a book that doesn’t regularly resort to big two-page spreads, Anderson makes the most of the one at the end of the title. Winged Victory’s flight through the air as the bad guys come after her just looks effortless; I love the expanse of her wings, the poise as she turns in mid-flight, and the arc of the Iron Legion as they start to come after her. It’s a great example of how characters in flight should be drawn, both in terms of basic movement as well as capturing the wonder to an otherwise-jaded audience.
“Astro City” #8 continues a strong and engaging storyline, and I appreciate the fact that how it will end is anyone’s guess. It’s topical and exciting, and it makes me all the more happy that “Astro City” is back.