Image © Juke Box Productions.
First, isn’t that a great cover? The backdrop is in the style of Peter Max, and the foreground figures sure look like they’ve been cut out and dropped onto it, though it may just be Alex Ross painting wizardry.
This may be the most ambitious issue of ASTRO CITY to date, at least plot-wise. It follows several threads that, of course, intersect at times, and is further complicated by tagging each page of the story with a time-stamp, then mixing them all up so the reading order is not chronological order. This made me want to shake writer Kurt Busiek at times, as I had to keep flipping pages to see how certain events connected, and I suspect I actually read each page at least twice. But in the end it all made sense…I think. The mixed time order is something of a distraction, but the story is strong enough to overcome it.
And it’s a story of ordinary people, as so often in this book, but also a mythic god or spirit, The Dancing Master, apparently brought forth as an unexpected side effect of a scientific project. The character does indeed dance through the issue, in a variety of interesting styles, including that of Peter Max. We also have a super-hero vs. super-villain fight, a robot on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, an attractive bank teller, some overworked scientists… in short, it’s a well-crafted juggling act. The interior art by Brent Anderson is also excellent, and allows him to show off a variety of styles, including some I wouldn’t expect from Brent. I bet that was fun for him. The emotional content is fragmented by the storytelling, so the impact of that is less than some recent issues, but in all, well done.