Is 'Astro City' #1 worth the return trip?

Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and Alex Sinclair returned to Astro City this week, with a brand-new first issue published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. The creative team introduces us to several new characters, including the fourth wall-breaking Broken Man and the anime-inspired American Chibi. Old favorites are also still in residence, including Samaritan and Bill Pullam, one of the ordinary citizens we met earlier in Astro City's history.

It's a first issue that feels comfortably familiar but also refreshingly different, as we kick off what looks like a big event within the Astro City world. I definitely found it well worth my $3.99, but if you don't believe me, here are a few more reviews that might convince you:

Jesse Schedeen, IGN: "As Busiek notes in the afterword to this issue, this new series is really the 60th chapter in a story that has unfolded across numerous ongoing books and mini-series. Luckily, this still manages to be a clean and accessible gateway for new readers. As I've only read a couple of the trade collections, I was looking forward to a clean jumping-on point, and that's what Astro City #1 provides."

Rob at Crisis on Infinite Midlives: "And now Astro City is at Vertigo, and Busiek seems to have decided to take that opportunity to, well riff on Vertigo comics. Specifically those early, proto-Vertigo books, where the characters still lived in the DC Universe and bumped into superheroes every now and again. Because this time around, the pastiche is pretty clearly Psycho-Pirate from Grant Morrison’s 80s run on Animal Man (with what seems to be a Galactus story brewing), and while that parallel all but screams from the page and colors your expectations, it is actually very, very compelling. Because Busiek isn’t just acknowledging the reader ... he’s involving us."

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: "It's also nice to see that Busiek hasn't been afraid to let time march forward even when Astro City wasn't being published. Characters from earlier stories return as older people now, and references to how smartphone apps are used by residents and tourists alike within Astro City is a nice way to show how it's keeping up with the times. I also appreciated that Busiek was able to re-introduce those older characters in a way that wouldn't keep new readers in the dark (the Broken Man's narration once again being a big help), even as those who do remember them get the hook of finding out what they've been up to since we last saw them, so that they aren't bored by a new 'getting to know you' moment. This is a strong and well-told script from start to finish, and knowing that Busiek's banked almost a year's worth of Astro City scripts already is especially exciting based on the quality of this debut story." (4/5)

Aaron Long, Comicosity: "Brent Anderson’s art is strong throughout the issue and is a such a huge part of pulling the reader into the world of Astro City. His style is crisp, clean and inviting for new readers and his page structure is excellent. The flow of this comic is superb and Anderson does an excellent job of providing interesting visuals that do not distract or overshadow the narration of the comic. It is a fine balance to create a panel that is intriguing enough to keep the story flowing while the narrator is speaking, but also not so visually dynamic that the narrator’s voice is lost. The colouring by Alex Sinclair keeps the energy in the pages and makes this comic look like a 2013 version of Astro City, not a 1998 rehash." (9/10)

Oliver Sava, The A.V. Club: "Busiek has found the ideal artistic collaborators in Brent Anderson and Alex Ross, who are equally adept at capturing the gritty reality of urban life and the dazzling splendor of the city’s heroes and villains. Cover artist and character designer Ross has a photorealistic style that combines iconic imagery with a sense of practicality to balance form and function beautifully in his designs. His covers have the detail of a Norman Rockwell painting and the energy of a Jack Kirby splash page, immediately establishing the tone of the interior contents with a single dramatic image. The use of negative space on the cover of this new #1 highlights the bright, exciting world on the other side of those celestial doors, and Astro City truly is a beacon of light in an industry that loves the darkness."

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