The ongoing series was previously derailed by Busiek's health problems, which prevented him devoting the resources to writing "Astro City" he preferred. While his condition is such that he's now comfortable telling new stories, that doesn't mean the writer has a clean bill of health.
"Oh, I wish," Busiek told CBR News on Saturday. "One of the problems with mercury poisoning, unfortunately, is that mercury is just as toxic being flushed out of the system as it was going in. So they have to be careful with the stuff they give me to leach it out -- too little, and it doesn't do enough good, too much and I get sick from the detox. So I'm up and down, depending on how the process is going. I'm not back to full capacity by any means, but I'm going in the right direction, and that's what matters.
"As it is, I'm working on #4, and expect to have the whole series written before the first issue comes out."
The focus of the miniseries hearkens back in many ways to the original miniseries, published in trade paperback form as "Life in the Big City."
"Each of the stories is seen through the eyes of a 'civilian' ... the focus is more on the normal people of the city than on the heroes, though that does vary quite a bit from story to story. And we see a whole mess of heroes, from audience favorites like Samaritan, Jack-In-The-Box and the Confessor, to barely-glimpsed or mentioned-but-never-seen heroes like the Flying Fox and the Blue Knight, and even brand-new heroes, including Roustabout, Supersonic and Atomicus, the atom-powered hero of the early 1960s."
In their description of the book released to retailers, DC erroneously announced that "Local Heroes" would be three standalone stories, followed by a two part "Dark Ages." Not so.
"I don't know where they got that, either," Busiek said. "The last two issues aren't a two-part story, and they aren't called 'Dark Ages.' We do have a story in the works called 'The Dark Age,' but it's much longer than two issues. It's the story of what happened back in the Seventies, including the much-hinted-at fate of the Silver Agent. But it's not part of 'Local Heroes.'"
With so much time spent away from the title, it wouldn't be a surprise if Busiek was a bit nervous about his return to the streets of Astro City.
"I'm always nervous about how my stories will be received. That's just par for the course. But what really made me feel like the book was back, like it was coming alive again, was getting Brent Anderson pages through my fax machine, and seeing the city and the characters taking shape again through his pencils. That was a huge thrill, and I just hope it'll be as much of one for the readers as it has been for me.
"In the end, all I can do is write the best stories I can, and put 'em out there with the help of the whole creative team. What happens after that, I'm content to leave up to the readers."
And finally, the question all creators who create linked series of miniseries: When's the next one coming out?
"Hey, let us get this one launched, at least, before we start talking up the next one!
"The next arc may be 'The Dark Age,' or it may be something else -- I have a gazillion stories to tell and want to tell them all at once. But we'll start working on it as soon as we finish this one (or, more accurately, I'll start writing it as soon as I finish the last of 'Local Heroes,' so I'll be writing while Brent draws the current one), and it'll come out as soon as we have enough done to be sure it'll all come out on time and as promised."