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Comics Modern Age

Monthly (Comic) Book Club - June - Astro City17716

COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
It looks like Confession is issues 4-9 of volume 2 which we will be reading

Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite

Week 1 (5/30-6/5): Vol. 1 #1-3
Week 2 (6/6-6/12): Vol. 1 #4-6
Week 3 (6/13/-6/19): Vol. 2 #1-4
Week 4 (6/20-6/26): Vol. 2 #5-8
Week 5 (6/27-7/3): Vol. 2 #9-12, 1/2
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#2 takes into the perspective of the First Family, but through the eyes of the youngest member, Astra. They're very obviously a Fantastic Four analogue, but there are some differences like multiple marriages and a second generation. The series has been fairly light on superhero battles, and this one is pretty perfunctory, but I enjoyed it. Maybe because it was quick and breezy, or Silver Brain is such a retro villain, I'm not sure.

The focus is more on Astra being both a kid and a hero. She has the same hero problems that we saw with Samaritan and Winged Victory, in that she has little knowledge of 'normal' life, and a touch of the Marta story on interest in the other side. Astra is caught in that in between place where she's obviously competent in what she's doing but it still treated like a child.

I've never been a Fantastic Four reader but maybe we should add on of the more recent trades to the list, where Valeria and Franklin are part of the team. If it's like this maybe I would enjoy it more than I've thought I would.

Also, this is the first Astro City book to end with 'to be continued'. Going along with @EbayMafia's comment, maybe we're heading to more serialized stories instead of the anthology style so far.
Post 27 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#3 is indeed the second part to number 2. It follows Astra as she goes on an 'adventure' to a normal school to learn about hopscotch as well as the rest of the First Family as they try to figure out which of their many enemies has kidnapped her.

I didn't like this issue as much as the other ones. Not because it was a bad story or anything, but because it didn't seem to fit in with the series' theme. Particularly the First Family section, I don't think it served the story much beyond really emphasizing how much they wanted their daughter back. I think the value was in Astra's side of the story, showing how she tries to fit in with regular kids and learn about the 'normal' world.

As far as the theme goes, I think you could draw a distinction between how Astra handles her problems and how the Family does. When she gets frustrated she stops herself from using her powers; she's trying to get good at the game 'the right way'. The Family, on the other hand, runs around getting into fights and raising a fuss everywhere they go. That said, the point was made with fewer of the Family scenes. It also seems like there's a general point that Astra is as capable as, and maybe more responsible than, her parents. Something along the lines of the next generation learning from the mistakes of the previous one. But I think it could have come across more strongly or clearly with a bit more focus in the storytelling.

If the next story is a 4-5 issue arc, we'll see if some of that same problem sticks around. Hopefully it is at least more compelling than some standard superhero fights.
Post 28 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#4 sets up the next arc. Again, there are some thematic things you could look for that fit in with the rest of the series, but this issue seems much more serial.

This one is from the perspective of a new kid in Astro City, one who left his small town for a chance in the big city. I don't think we even get his name aside from one spot where he refers to himself as 'the Kinney kid'. But he's obviously in town to learn how to be a superhero. His father was a doctor who sacrificed his own family's potential to serve his community. While he seems to have adopted the service idea, he says he's "going to be somebody", so we'll see where that goes. A chance attack at a hero club looks like it's going to be his opportunity to get in.

While not as meta-focused as the other issues in the series, I did enjoy the atmosphere of this story a bit more than the previous two. I'll keep my hopes up given @EbayMafia's referral.
Post 29 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#5 is a check-in on Kinney's development as a superhero. He's become an 'apprentice' to the Confessor, sort of a Batman type but with a religious theme. While Altar Boy is learning the ropes and making progress, the issue sets up the central mystery of who the Confessor is exactly. Kinney's low confidence in his ability to figure it out is a little odd to me. He's confident (maybe overconfident?) in the other things he does. He's also seen Confessor's face but doesn't think he would recognize him in 'real life'. Wearing a disguise is an obvious option but it struck me as odd.

Also a little odd is the alien from the first series coming back as a Crackerjack imposter. The alien was upset about the situation, but committing crimes to smear Crackerjack seems a little lowbrow for him. Maybe something else happened in the meantime that really got his goat.
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COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
Sorry I’ve been out! My dad was visiting from out of town last week but I’ll try to get caught up!
Post 31 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#6 adds some more superhero tropes to the plot. We have a plan for hero registration, although unlike in Civil War, none of the heroes go along with it. And, similar to some of the plot of Marvels, we have the people turning on heroes when they feel the damage is becoming too great. But, more to the point, we get a big reveal in the Confessor mystery. The clues have come together for Brian (and for a reasonable reader) that Confessor is a vampire. We'll see what that results in next issue.
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Masculinity takes a holiday. EbayMafia private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
While Altar Boy is learning the ropes


lol, Altar Boy. They must have had so much fun coming up with the names for the characters.
Post 33 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
I didn't think of it at the time but you pointing it out reminds me of one of my favorite random Arnold lines. If you haven't seen this movie, he's talking to the literal Devil (language warning if you have kids nearby).



I don't know what it is exactly, but calling Satan a choir boy always gets me.
Post 34 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
Sorry I’ve been out! My dad was visiting from out of town last week but I’ll try to get caught up!


My dad is coming tomorrow so I've been trying to keep ahead.
Post 35 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#7 really kicks in the serialization. We get Confessor's back story, and more on heroes being criminalized, and the alien invasion kicking off. Like I said with the earlier two-parter, I like the story fine but I don't like it for this book. There is kind of a theme of why people act as superheroes carrying through, but the theme is being backburnered to the plot IMO. But at least the plot is well-done; I'm enjoying the characters well enough. Although I don't know how the aliens are going to play into it. Maybe they'll just be the planet-level threat that demonstrates the need for superheroes? While that's a valid point in the comic universe I think it's kind of a cop-out. I'll find out tomorrow where the next step of the story goes.
Post 36 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
The first things I noticed in #8 happened to be on the same page. The First Family member giving the 'up yours' sign (apparently it has a name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bras_d%27honneur) caught my attention just because I was reading my new New Mutants issue and they somewhat censored Magik giving the finger. I wonder if it's a difference in editorial standards or a difference in familiarity with the two gestures, since they mean the same thing.

The second was the helicopter shooting at Jack in the Box. Helicopters generally can't turn sideways or do a roll like an airplane can. The rotor blades aren't the same as wings and things go bad if they aren't upright. There was a little new around it back when the Bond movie Spectre came out because a helicopter does a roll in the trailer; here's one article about it https://www.motorbiscuit.com/james-bond-helicopter-fight-spectre-impossible/ .

Otherwise, we get Confessor making a heroic sacrifice to reveal that the Mayor (and at least some of the Eagle troops?) is an alien. We did get a more explicit monologue about why heroes (should) do things; it's to do good and set an example, not because people support it and give out awards. It looks like we are headed toward the 'planetary threat demonstrates the need for heroes' idea that I mentioned. We'll see next week if there are some other ideas added in as they wrap up the arc.
Post 37 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#9 wraps the Confessor arc. I don't know that I have more to say about it than I already have. There's a little extra point in there, the emphasis on Confessor's idea about the ebb and flow of what part of the public you hear from, but otherwise it just hits the selfless heroism, why-do-you-do-it idea some more.

It's a solid read, so I feel a little silly being a bit down on it, but the first series was very good and the anthology style worked. This shift to longer stories is fine in that there is still a thematic drive and the work is still good, but I feel like the thematic elements are lost a bit in the need to drive the plot and it takes some of the uniqueness away from the series.
Post 38 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#10 returns to the one-off anthology style. It follows Junkman, an older man who turns to crime after being forced to retire before he wanted to. Junkman got his "one last score" and was living the retired life that everyone dreams of, but he keeps hearing about how great superheroes are and he can't stand not getting recognition for having beat them. Especially following the previous arc, which focused on how heroes do it for the people whether they get recognition or adulation or not, it's an effective story about how the need for credit motivates a bad guy. It's also a contrast to the cowardly henchman story in the first series; Junkman's confidence in himself leads him to actively confront some heroes while the other guy freaks out so much that he leaves town.
Post 39 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#11 ends with a 'to be continued', so back to the serialized stories. This one focuses on Jack in the Box, who we've seen throughout the series but hasn't been the focus so far. It's a bit of a weird one, with time traveling (maybe from different futures?) children who are following Jack's legacy but not at all in the way he would have wanted it. We'll have to wait for part 2 to see what the message is and how it lands.
Post 40 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#12 gives us the second half of Zach's story. Torn between the choice of having a child he might involuntarily abandon and giving up his heroism, Jack engineers another option. He gives the Jack in the Box identity to another person and coaches him on being a hero.

I think this was a solid look at another angle of the personal cost of being a hero, similar to the first issue with Samaritan. Discussing it in terms of what effect it could have on a child seems especially relevant these days. Zach's approach to problem solving is appropriate given his job and backstory; he found an innovative way to get to a solution. I don't think it's one that Samaritan or Winged Victory would have thought of; what we saw from them in the first series suggests they are way too personally involved to hang up the cape (or wings). Of course, they probably won't be in the situation in the first place given how their date went.

I liked this two-parter better than the other multi-issue stories. I thought the First Family running around looking for Astra was essentially filler. The Confessor arc wasn't at that level but had some extraneous stuff; the alien invasion makes sense in the plot but is aside from the point of the story. This one felt tighter to me. Everything is directly on point to Zach's decision on balancing family and heroism.
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COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
So despite my lack of posting, I have been reading to catch up.

I did enjoy the two issue arc with Astra. I agree that Astra’s side is the stronger of the two parts. The family tearing up their rogue’s gallery in search of the daughter cane off like comedy relief, which I didn’t mind too much.

Astra’s side I thought was really well done. I’m watching a lot of early Simpsons right now so schoolyard bullies is something I’m seeing a lot of but this one was slightly different. Also having the child protagonist trying to get INTO school instead of out of it was a fun inversion.

It ended in the same optimistic outlook as other stories. Astra’s established her own identity and her parents were allowing her to have a childhood instead of isolating her in their superhero bubble. I kind of hoped it would’ve ended with Astra preparing for a sleepover at her place but being grounded like a normal kid was a nice touch, too
Post 42 IP   flag post
COLLECTOR dielinfinite private msg quote post Address this user
Currently two issues into the Confessor’s arc. I’m not sure how I fee about it yet. It’s obviously a Batman/Robin analogue. It feels a bit strange because Batman often feels dark and cynical so it fees weird to try and fit that into the brighter Astro City world. Because of that contrast, I think Confessor feels a bit more extreme than he actually is. He’s understandably tough on his young protege but because of everything else we’ve seen in the world he feels a little like Batman circa Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin.
Post 43 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
I read the 1/2 issue, which is a nice little story, but I don't have much to say about it. It features the Hanged Man, who we haven't had a focused story on, but we don't learn anything about him or what his specific deal is. Given how other stories in the series are a bit more weighty, I think this is a solid choice for a 1/2 issue.

Coming to the end of the reading, I have to say that I really enjoyed this run. Having an anthology series about a superhero universe without it being about a particular superhero gives the great opportunity to talk about ideas and themes spanning the genre, and Busiek does it well. The art was solid throughout even if it didn't jump out at me. The best Alex Ross covers are virtually mythological, and I don't think any of these hit that level, but I'm never going to turn them down.

The main complaint I had was in the second series when there were more serialized/multi-issue stories instead of the strict one-and-done from the first series. I did still enjoy those, I just thought they were a poor fit given how well the anthology style had been going. To make an analogy, I didn't like San Junipero in Black Mirror. San Junipero is a well done single episode of sci-fi (it got plenty of award nominations and wins), but Black Mirror is a series about how technology is going to turn sideways and go wrong. Having a happy ending in that series strikes me as unearned and against the fundamental idea. But even the arcs with Astra, the Confessor, and Jack in the Box were solid stories. I would keep reading the series if we wanted to return to it some day.
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