Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NB of the Week


Astro City #16 - Wish I May...
Written by Kurt Busiek
Drawn by Brent Anderson (and one page by Alex Ross)

In Astro City, superpowers are just a part of life. Heroes and villains run around, buildings get destroyed and not every day is a good one. To live here, you have to have thick skin and hopefully a desire to do good. Having been in print for almost twenty years, writer Kurt Busiek has brought back the tough city in a new ongoing from Vertigo, focusing more on the little people instead of the big ones.
Simon Says is a bad guy. A genius, teenager bad guy. As Simon Siezmanski, he never fit in and as such, was the recipient of of many cruel bullies, mostly jocks and the sort. As Simon Says, he'll get his revenge. Except he has one request from his hero nemesis Starbright: during a 24-hour truce, he will help do good. Anything Starbright needs, Simon will use his genius for the sake of helping others. But only if Starbright does his a favor. After a day of foiling robberies and stopping attempted murders, Starbright must bring Simon the other outcasts that were once his friends for a sixteenth birthday party. Starbright has always seen the best in people and he feels that maybe he can help get to Simon so he also obliges. And it all goes well. The kids have fun everybody is fine and Starbright takes them all home after. When he returns, he finds Simon gone and also finds that the 24-hour truce is done. After a failed attempt to beat him, Starbright knows that this was a weak trap and that this was Simon's small try at a 'thank you'. As Starbright calls out to the there-but-not-seen Simon, he flies off and we jump forward in time to the present as a new Starbright finally unmasks herself as Simon Siezmanski. Turns out Simon was truly lost her whole life. The bullies all saw it and made her feel worthless for it but it was Starbright that helped her. A while after the party, Starbright was killed and was shown to actually be one of those jocks from school. One of the nice ones that Simon wrote off as another asshat bully. Simon had been wrong this whole time. Studying Bright's power of energy transformation, he was able to learn how to harness the power himself. Thinking back to those words of advice Starbright gave him after the party:
"Just be yourself. Figure out who you really are, and be that. Just as much as you possibly can. Light up the world with."
And with somebody finally looking into who Simon really was, he became a she and she is fighting the good fight in his honor.
Putting it into words, it actually sounds a bit corny but the best part of Busiek's writing is how human he can make this very inhuman book feel. Busiek has written a lot of big names: Iron Man, Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Conan, the Justice League, Indiana Jones, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, Thor and not to mention the brilliant Marvels. Astro City may be what I see as possibly his most compassionate writing. Every issue has been strong. Every character has been made recognizable to us even though they may have Superman like powers or, hell, a vampire. This book connects and I can only hope that he is able to continue to take my money for many years to come.

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