Neon Lights

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Four #2

It’s the down-and-dirty ’80s, everything’s nasty and cynical and brutal and cruel, and the Silver Agent has just traveled back in time to stop something from awful from happening. Charles and Royal Williams are chasing Aubrey Jason, a rotten piece of work who killed the Williams brothers’ parents decades ago. He’s got a mad scientist to agree to give him unlimited cosmic power, while the scientist’s vat-grown Dynamoids tear up Las Vegas and battle the local superheroes, like Mirage, the neon-wearing guy pictured on the cover. (Wow, that was a spectacularly long sentence.) Can Charles and Royal stop Aubrey Jason, even with the unwitting assistance of Mirage and the Silver Agent? And dark power has come thundering out of a dimensional vortex into Astro City?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still loving the adventures of the Williams brothers, and everything in the background is just great, too. What’s really impressing me in this one is how much acknowledged darkness there is in this story. When you look back at the ’80s and the “Iron Age,” a lot of the comic stories were dark and bleak, but they never seemed to be really aware of how dark things were. Kurt Busiek has grasped all the pessimism and nihilism of the ’80s and has brought it out of the shadows to make sure we don’t miss it. Everything from the violence-loving TV viewers exulting in the chaos to the ominous hoofbeats riding out of the alley combine to create an incredibly forboding and frightening picture.

Milestone Forever #2

Well, in the last issue of this swan song for the old comics of Milestone Media, Icon, Rocket, and the Blood Syndicate got their happy endings — this time, it’s time for Hardware and Static. For Hardware, he’s inherited Alva Industries, he’s taken out the bad guys, and he doesn’t know where to go next. For Static, he’s heading out for his tenth high school reunion, meeting friends, and beating up on old enemies. And in the end, just as Dharma had feared, the end of the universe is on the way…

Verdict: Thumbs up. You want my advice? Ignore the stuff with Dharma. It ain’t important. The Hardware story is really good, and the Static story is absolutely fantastic. And even then, it coulda been better — DC has some weird grudge against Dwayne McDuffie, and it looks like they went meddling in his story again. But what we get here is still pretty good and still worth picking up, even if it’s six bucks. Man oh man, how I have missed ChrisCross’s artwork…

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