Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross's Astro City turns 20 years old this month, marking two decades of --- and I say this without even a hint of my usual exaggeration --- one the most innovative and consistently great comics in the history of the superhero genre. To celebrate that pretty auspicious occasion, DC and Comixology have launched a massive sale on the series that runs until next Monday, the 21st.

If you've never read the series, or even if you've just missed a few here and there and need to fill some holes in your run, then this is likely the best news you'll hear all week, but at the same time, it can be a little daunting. 20 years of comics can be a lot to get through, especially when it's all really good. So if you need some recommendations, I'm here to help.

 

 

If you only get one single issue of Astro City during the entire sale, it really needs to be "The Nearness of You" from Astro City #1/2 --- and here's the best part: it's free. I don't even think that's part of the sale, just a function of the knowledge that if you read this, you're going to want to read the rest of the series because it's just that good. The very first issue of the series is the same way, but as good as it is, "The Nearness Of You" blows it out of the water.

It's often been cited as one of the best superhero stories ever published, and as Busiek and Anderson said in our recent interview about the anniversary, it's one of their favorites, too. The idea behind Astro City has always been that it's a look at life in a world of superheroes that don't always revolve around the epic battles of good against evil, and this one, which focuses on the consequences of an Earth-shattering crossover for a man who had the love of his life retconned out of existence, is one of the most moving and intriguing comics I've ever read.

Once you're through that - and once you've decided that you really ought to be spending some money in this sale --- Busiek and Anderson also cited the Beautie special as a favorite:

 

 

This is the story of Beautie, a life-sized living fashion doll who uses her super-powers to fight for good, and the memories of her creation that have been buried underneath her programming for her entire existence ---- and how they keep coming up even after they've been erased. It's a great single-issue story (something Astro City excels at in general) and it's got one of the best superheroic shutdowns of being hit on ever --- and one of the best responses to being shut down, too.

My personal favorite, though, is a more recent story, and it's one that has everything that makes Astro City great:

 

 

"Welcome to HumanoGlobal" and "Mistakes" ran in #2 and 3 of the current run of Astro City, and they've got one of the best hooks ever. The story focuses on what's essentially a superhuman call center, the people who monitor emergency calls and determine what events need superheroic intervention, going through their triumphs and their mistakes. It's a phenomenal idea that's executed downright perfectly, and I can almost guarantee that you won't find a better story for $1.98.

Really, though, it's all good stuff, and if you need more guidance, Busiek himself has provided a reading order (including the few things that aren't in the sale).