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Astro City, Vol. 1: Life in the Big City (Astro City #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  7,330 ratings  ·  179 reviews
This first Astro City volume looks at a day in the life of the Samaritan, the worlds busiest super-hero; an invasion of underground dwellers that is thwarted by the super-team the Honor Guard; a small-time criminals growing paranoia as he comes to believe that the colourful hero called the Jack-in-the-Box is after him; plus stories introducing the First Family, the Hanged ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 23rd 1999 by WildStorm (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
i have a favorite fantasy, although it is more of a fantasy world or even a fantasy way of how a big city could look and feel. it is a version of 1940s/50s america, but minus the stifling straight whiteness of it all, minus the prejudice and racism and sexism, and definitely minus the atrocities happening around the world during those decades. it is a world of fast-talking, wise-crackin' ace reporters in glorious black-and-white; ambitious young ladies taking on the big city in glorious technico ...more
Jan
The Resurrection of a Genre and an Industry

In the late 1980s, the popular success of Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns increasingly presented the comic-book industry with a problem: What was there left to say about all those heroes whose colorful costumes looked rather ridiculous through the new, more sophisticated lens that Moore and Miller had developed? The mainstream publishers came up with this response: Let's sweep the ideological critique of Watchmen and The
...more
Anne
Yeesh. I must not be artsy-fartsy enough to appreciate Astro City's...whatever it is that I'm supposed to appreciate.
It was boring. And the art was fugly. However, everyone else seemed to love it, so it's probably just me.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Astro City captures the sort of awe this superhero fiction lover has felt since being a young kid and watching shows and movies about superheroes. I grew up in the 80s and we had the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, which were huge for that time period. I watched them again a couple of months ago, and while some aspects are a bit cheesy and dated, the essence is pure and still meaningful, and will bring me back to watch those movies again and again. Having said that, I've never been as huge a ...more
Sesana
I love Marvels. It's one of the few graphic novels that I've read over and over, and loved every time. So it's hardly surprising that I also loved Astro City.

I think the best and easiest way of describing Astro City as Marvels, with original heroes. There are a few more differences in setup. Marvels was essentially the history of the Marvel U to that point, while Astro City is more a series of slice-of-life vignettes in a superhero world. And honestly, I didn't love each of them equally. The fif
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Sam Quixote
A couple of years ago I tried reading Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross' Marvels, a book I was assured was a superhero classic and an incredible comic. It feels like superheroes could exist in our world! is the general sentiment around that book. I got about a third of the way through before I gave up. Terrible art - I don't like Ross' ultra-realistic painted style, the figures are too static - and boring characters telling unimpressive superhero stories made me drop the book long before the end.

More re
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Jonathan

So, this finally concludes my borrowed pile of graphic novels. As a result I have become a fan of Kurt Busiek's graphic novel work. His work on Marvels is unparalleled in the Marvel Comicverse and his work here in Astro City Volume 1 is likewise excellent.

Busiek explains in the foreword (one of the best forewords for a graphic novel in my eyes) how often individuals comment that his work makes the world of superheroes realistic. He pointedly argues: actually I don't. There are vampires and othe
...more
William Thomas
Who remembers when Busiek and Ross's 'Marvels' hit the stands and made history with it's new take on capes storytelling?

That was the only time I really ever loved Busiek's work. And that's because I never picked up a single issue of Astro City. Around 96-97 I started falling in love with music an spent all of my money on concert tickets for Ozzfest and new CDs and fell out of love with a lot of comic books, although I often reread my collection hundreds of times without buying anything new for
...more
Paul
Astro City - the beginning. - Collects Kurt Busiek's Astro City #1-6 (the original miniseries). Originally printed under the Homage Comics imprint at WildStorm in 1995. Most recently got a new edition at DC in 2011 in both trade paperback and hardcover format.

Astro City Volume 1 Life in the Big City marked the beginning of Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross and Brent Anderson's take on superhero comics.

Busiek and Anderson take the superhero genre and, sort of, turn it upside down.

Welcome to Astro City, home
...more
Rosa
This was so much more then a super hero graphic novel. This tells the story of Astro City by following some very different residents through their everyday life. All of the stories are interesting and reveal something not only about the city but the characters who people the stories as well. The art style was also gorgeous, capturing a retro/future feel that can usually only be seen in pieces written in the past that believed we would all be driving flying cars by now. I can't wait to see where ...more
Kevin
I LOVE Astro City! Busiek and Anderson have created a world of classic Golden Age superheroes to rival the Justice League and Avengers. Great character development and cool stories with each issue presented from a different point of view, be it that of a hero or a citizen. I really enjoy having it mixed up like that.

I can't wait to read more.
Lu (Sugar & Snark)
This was a really unique volume of comics, where you get to see the Superhero's and Supervillian's of Astro City. I found Astro City quite interesting. You get to see Samaritan who does so much and who must be exhausted all the time. The stories go back in time as well and you get to see the beginning members of the Honor Guard. You also get to see life outside of Astro City and how people function there. And to see all those superhero's in action was great! I want to know more about the Hanged ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Ooooh, ASTRO CITY, you purty! I ignored a friend's recommendation to read this for years, and I now want to go back and slap past-Brandon in the face and make him listen to his elders. Such a beautifully conceived and illustrated book. Feels like a wonderfully dense anthology in the vein of THE WIRE, except there's flying people and aliens and regular folk all mixed in there. Can't wait to grab volume 2!
Victoria
I'm doing a superficial exploration of graphic novels this year. Nothing intense, just having fun. This title was recommended to me and I did enjoy it. These are superheroes unfamiliar to me so it was good to read without movies or previous exposure to bias me. (As opposed to Batman or Spiderman who I've been seeing on lunchboxes, t-shirts, and theaters for years now. I find it a challenge to read those books without preconceived images or feelings.)

Highlights for me:
The opening scene answers t
...more
Sarah
I think I'm going to have a hard time describing how much I enjoy Astro City, even in its first six issues. Kurt Busiek has long been one of my favorite comic writers, because he has a strong sense of story movement and his characters' humanity always shines through in the action, creating a total world where the exploits of a hero are not simply calculated but come from someplace deeper.

But that trademark sensibility is only part of what makes Astro City: Life in the Big City so special. By cre
...more
Fizzgig76
Reprints Astro City (Limited Series) #1-6 (August 1995-January 1996). Welcome to Astro City…a place that can be scary or wonderful…depending on your perception. Astro City is a place where a superhero like the Samaritan can dream of enough free time to fly, a reporter witness the world being saved and can never tell anyone, a low-level crook can learn the secret identity of a hero, a girl from Shadow Hill can feel more threatened in the city, an alien can secretly be walking among the people, an ...more
Mike
Why would a man who could fly dream of flying?
What's news in a world where anything can happen?
What should a small time crook do with the greatest of all secrets?
What is it that defines home?
How would our lives look to an outsider?
Is there time for superheroes to take a night off?

Life in the Big City collects Astro City vol. 1 issues 1-6. This is the complete original miniseries.

A tad over 15 years ago, Kurt Busiek introduced the world to Astro City. It was his attempt to tell stories of depth i
...more
Nicholas
Wow! Three 5-star reads in a row. I'm lucky this summer. I love Kurt Busiek (he wrote my favorite Superman story of all time). I have to say that my summer comic reading started off disappointing with the Grant Morrison Batman stuff, but I've learned to stick with what I know is good. Astro City is a love letter to comic books. It's a self-contained universe in which Busiek is not restrained by continuity and character history and can basically do as he wants with the superhero genre, and boy do ...more
Amanda Mic Perkins
This is a really cool take on the superhero genre. Instead of showing the huge fights and wars with supervillain armies, it shows their day t day lives, balancing heroing with their secret identities.
Tyler Hill
I was slow to warm to Astro City, actually. I think that I'd presumed that the stories in it would be all more "average Joe on the street, living in a super hero world" (a la Marvels), so when it opened with a tale focusing on the Samaritan (Astro City's version of Superman), I was a bit underwhelmed. That said, I enjoyed most of the other stories more, and beyond the art (which I could never really get into), I thought this series represented a neat little thought experiment and foray into worl ...more
Zack Oliver
How does any review their favorite anything without sharing a piece of themselves? It's difficult to let go of the desire to rip the feeling from my heart and paste it into the screen of my iPhone...but if the Samaritan can keep it together when it matters and let loose when he dreams, then I, too, can manage restraint and offer some wisdom from a reader who started the series with its most recent run, and went back to buy every single issue off of ebay...

Astro City is fantastic. It's a fundamen
...more
Sam Frankenstein
Astro City is not your average graphic novel series about superheroes. Full of the inner thoughts and contemplations of various super heroes and villains of Astro City, it portrays what it might be like if these heroes and villains really did exist. In addition, it does what I truly admire Marvel (not the publisher of this btw) for actually doing; Showing that these costumed characters are like everyone else deep down. They may have powers and do things we could only dream of, but they also esse ...more
Shannon Appelcline
Astro City is often praised for its average man's take on a superheroic world, and though this book has some of that (most successfully the story of a woman living on Shadow Hill), its best stories are its looks at the superheroes itself. The trick is that it's their human side we're seeing, which is what makes the book-end stories of issues #1 and #6 (featuring Samaritan and Winged Victory) the best of the volume. And they're very good,even if they do both hit the same note.

Beyond that, it's im
...more
Evan
Mar 14, 2014 Evan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: comics
What a fun freaking comic! The 'a day in the life' introduction to the characters and mythology of Astro City worked wonderfully. The first issue, focusing on Samaritan (a thinly veiled Superman clone) gets across the point that being a super hero in this universe is a lot of work, and sacrifice of any possibility of a normal life. These are themes that get brushed under the rug in the actual Superman books, but go a long way toward making Samaritan, a nearly invincible person, seem infinitely m ...more
Matt Mongiello
This might be the best graphic novel I've read. This includes the more original and adult oriented books of Alan Moore and the standard super hero fare. I'm pretty sure the first issue/chapter is the best stand alone comic I've read. Why is it so good?

Well, Busiek's introduction hits the nail on the head. The most acclaimed comics of the past few decades ask what superheros would really be in our world. The answer is invariably psychotic/damaged: Miller's Dark Night or Moore's Rorschach are the
...more
Derek Royal
Great trade, but what else would you expect from the creator of Marvels? What I like about this, and what the Astro City series has over Marvels, is Busiek isn't playing with someone else's toys. He's constructing this from the ground up. And the word "ground" is appropriate here, since much of what we learn of the superhero world of Astro City is from that perspective, street-level observations of the capes in action.
Paul
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY,
IT'S A BIRD!
IT'S A PLANE!
IT'S not who you think it is

Busiek takes clichéd stories from the golden, the silver and the modern age, and gives them a new twist.
Delving and expanding into the writings to go deeper into the psyche and motivations of both the superheroes and the ordinary people that surround them while still keeping us, the readers, entertained and wanting for more.
Chris
I really don't know why I haven't read the rest of these comics, as I love this volume. A "what if super-heroes were real" premise, but perhaps the best executed of any I've read. Each issue is a stand alone tale that explore aspects of this world - the weight of "great power / great responsibility", the challenge of reporting super-hero activities, et cetera. Both fantastic and human, an excellent read.
Anchorpete
I know nowadays there are college courses with such titles as "Comic books as literature". As much as the title of a course like that gets on my nerves (They have been literature for a long time at this point)I think I know the perfect first book for the class- Astro City, Vol.1

This is comic book gold, but more importantly, this transcends comic books. This first trade is a collection of wonderful stories, all adult and well developed, yet none of them are grim and gritty. This book is filled wi
...more
Simon
I'm open to the idea of an unfashionably optimistic and fun superhero comic, but I still expected something a little fresher and more modern-feeling than this. Busiek wears his influences on his sleeve and it comes across more as a pastiche than an original. A couple of stories are *very* Will Eisner, and the whole tone is a throwback to 1950s New York, with pretty much every character a thinly disguised version of a more famous superhero. Still, I like the attempts to discuss what life is like ...more
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Kurt Busiek is an American comic book writer notable for his work on the Marvels limited series, his own title Astro City, and his four-year run on Avengers.

Busiek did not read comics as a youngster, as his parents disapproved of them. He began to read them regularly around the age of 14, when he picked up a copy of Daredevil #120. This was the first part of a continuity-heavy four-part story arc;
...more
More about Kurt Busiek...

Other Books in the Series

Astro City (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Astro City, Vol. 2: Confession
  • Astro City, Vol. 3: Family Album
  • Astro City, Vol. 4: The Tarnished Angel
  • Astro City, Vol. 5: Local Heroes
  • Astro City, Vol. 6: The Dark Age, Book One: Brothers and Other Strangers
  • Astro City, Vol. 7: The Dark Age, Book Two: Brothers in Arms
  • Astro City, Vol. 8: Shining Stars
  • Astro City, Vol. 9: Through Open Doors
  • Astro City, Vol. 10: Victory
  • Astro City, Vol. 11: Private Lives
Marvels Superman: Secret Identity Astro City, Vol. 2: Confession JLA/Avengers Conan, Vol. 1: The Frost Giant's Daughter and Other Stories

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