Prepping for Re-Entry with ‘Astronauts In Trouble’
Reissues give you a chance to re-read an old book --- maybe even a a mostly-forgotten one --- with fresh eyes. Now that Image is reprinting Larry Young and Charlie Adlard's Astronauts In Trouble in its entirety, a lot of readers get to look back on a book that had a lot of buzz surrounding it near the turn of the century.
Originally published through Young's own company, AiT/PlanetLar, Astronauts In Trouble was the talk of the town in its day. When the online comics community was exploding and splitting off into factions, an official endorsement from Warren Ellis was like gold, and Ellis loved Astronauts In Trouble. Many of his fans did too, and I include myself on that list.
AiT isn't easily categorized. The first series, collected as Live From The Moon, is about a news crew tagging along on a privatized mission to the moon, and the multiple levels of chaos that throw everything awry. More broadly, though, it's about the renegade spirit: whatever it is hiding in the blood of explorers, mad billionaires, and embedded journalists that compels them to risk their lives for what they do. It's a fun, high-intensity book with many unexpected turns.
Image's reprints begin in another place, though. Going by story chronology, Image's new edition of Astronauts In Trouble begins with Space: 1959 #1, covering the origins of Channel Seven and the Aerospace Intelligence Taskforce. Like the first series, it's got its own concoction of humor, action, and intrigue, this time focused on the dual births of the space industry and televised media, with a murder mystery leading to the discovery of a secret space agency.
Visually, it can be hard to tell that it's 1959. Adlard was more crude back then, and his backgrounds and details aren't really developed. There are a couple of fedoras and some vaguely old car designs, but that's about it. There is, however, a manic energy in his pages that captures the insanity of its characters, professional lunatics chasing discovery, and that's the energy that made Young and Adlard's stories essential reading.
If you've never read Astronauts In Trouble, start now and find out for yourself what all those 35-year-olds in the comic shop are talking about.