In 1995, Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross launched Astro City, and in the years since, it's been one of the most consistently amazing superhero comics on the stands. Built around the idea of looking at the lives of superheroes from a perspective that didn't always follow the major cataclysms and battles of good against evil, Astro City gave us a person-on-the-street view of things like secret identities, flight, and even shifting continuity, in a way that no other comic ever had.
With this week's Astro City #26, Busiek and Anderson celebrate the 20th year of their universe. To mark the occasion, I spoke to them about how their process has changed over the course of two decades, the way the stories are built, and their favorite moments from the book's long history.
Ever since its return in 2013, Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross's Astro City has been one of those comics that's so consistently great that it's almost pointless to talk about how great it is. That story about the superhero call center from #2 and #3 was one of the best superhero stories of all time, perfectly nailing the conceit of superheroes seen through the eyes of normal people and what that means for the world. And the series isn't showing any signs of slowing down. If anything, it's getting better, because we're finally getting around to a story about a gorilla who just wants to play drums in a rock 'n' roll band.
I've always been fascinated by unfinished stories and pitches for comic books that never came out. There's always a level of mystery to them, trying to figure out how things might've been different if we actually got these stories that, for whatever reason, never actually made it to the shelves. This week, our pals over at Robot 6 unearthed one of the most interesting examples I've ever seen of a great comic that never happened: A Final Fantasy comic, based on the video game, by Kurt Busiek, Dell Barras and Mike Mignola.
And here's the really interesting part: The book may have never happened, but it got close enough that, of the four-issue adaptation of Final Fantasy IV, all four issues were scripted, with covers my Mignola, and two were actually drawn.
Fans of Captain Marvel probably won't tire of being reminded that their hero is getting her own movie, scheduled for a July 6th 2018 release. There's no director, no writer, and no star attached, but the movie has a title and a date, and that alone is progress. Superhero fans have been waiting a long time for a Marvel Studios movie with a female lead.
The Captain Marvel movie is due to come out thirteen months after a planned 2017 Wonder Woman movie from Warner Bros, and those two pictures could help usher in a new age for female heroes, if the studios follow through.
The Wonder Woman movie was a long time coming, but she's an obvious choice for Warner Bros; she's the definitive female hero, a brand, and an icon, with more than seventy years of history. By contrast, Captain Marvel has been around in her current incarnation for two years. But there are good reasons why she's Marvel's pick for a leading lady.
Having been one of the creators who saved superhero comics in the 1990s, it can be difficult to think of Kurt Busiek as anything other than a superhero comic writer. But between all of his high-profile runs on big Marvel and DC books and undisputed classics Marvels and Astro City, Busiek has frequently played in the fantasy genre with great results. If you've never read The Wizard's Tale, Arrowsmith, or his run on Conan, you've been missing out on an aspect of Busiek's all-world talent that shouldn't be overlooked, and it's time to getcha life right.
Created by Busiek and Benjamin Dewey (I Was The Cat), Tooth & Claw is a fantasy about the end of magic, a mythical hero, and a dog-boy named Dunstan. And somehow, given all those words I just typed, it's also a dark Mature Readers comic about the suddenness and finality of death.
Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!
This week: Special guest Kurt Busiek is the J. Rober Oppenheimer of X-Men, Rachel and Miles learn to love the Silver Age, Cyclops gets a job, Bernard the Poet falls from grace, we really wish X-Men: The Secret Years was a real book, everyone recites poetry, and we still don’t get around to Marvels.
Since it began nearly 20 years (!) ago, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson's Astro City has offered up superhero tales from the perspective of the regular humans who encounter them. Clearly, it's proven to be a concept with some serious longevity. The creative team is still coming up with fresh concepts.
Take the newest issue for example. On sale now, issue #14 of the Vertigo series focuses on an elderly woman named Ellie who runs a roadside museum -- the kind one often finds on long drives out West -- full of what seem to be busted-up robot henchmen. To the superheroes who destroyed them on their way to taking down a supervillain, they were just another obstacle. To Ellie, they're showpieces, and, as the title indicates, friends.
If you tell me that there's a new comic out from Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire, then you have my attention, but if you follow that up by telling me that it could be accurately described as "Conan meets Kamandi," that's when I start just throwing money in random directions hoping that it hits someone who can hand me this book. It's a bad strategy for buying things, but it's just too hard to wait for November and the release of Tooth and Claw #1.
Set in a brutal world of violence and magic, Busiek and Dewey's Tooth and Claw was announced at Image Expo during San Diego Comic-Con. The book is billed as a "world-building fantasy" focused on a society of animal people that's coming apart at the seams, and as you can see from the new pages Image released this week, it is absolutely beautiful.
In the final few hours before San Diego Comic-Con opened its doors to the public for Preview Night on Wednesday, Image Comics Expo took place in an upstairs ballroom at the nearby San Diego Bayfront Hilton, where the publisher welcomed a group of press, creators, and fans to watch as the company announced, discussed and otherwise promote a great variety of upcoming Image titles.
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Ego the Living Planet is one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's trippier creations: introduced in 1966 in Thor #132, he is literally a planet who is also a dude. With a face. (His first appearance was one of the photo-collages that Kirby was occasionally doing in those days; the gaunt, bearded face that Kirby pasted onto a planet shape was significantly different from most of the characters he designed.) Understandably, it's a little bit hard to do much with a planet-sized character who has to interact with humans, but nearly every artist who's gotten to work with Ego over the years has clearly relished the chance to draw his massive, scowling visage.
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