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Astro City, Vol. 6: The Dark Age - Book 1: Brothers & Other Strangers

(Astro City #6)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  997 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Today Astro City is a shining metropolis on a hill where super-heroes patrol the skies. However, things were not always as bright as they are today. In the early 1970's, in the wake of a global catastrophe, two brothers, one good and one evil must deal with family secrets and social upheaval, involving heroes from Jack-In-the-Box to the Blue Knight and the unsettling event ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by WildStorm (first published July 29th 2008)
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 ·  997 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Start your review of Astro City, Vol. 6: The Dark Age - Book 1: Brothers & Other Strangers
mark monday
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comicon
splendid tale of two brothers with divergent life paths (one to crime and the other to law) against a backdrop of much superheroic sturm und drang. as always, Busiek places the human element front and center, and all of the intergalactic battles and nefarious deeds and time travel etc are relegated to context - specifically for why life choices are sometimes made for us by outside factors, and why we must always struggle against such determinism. Busiek is surely one of the most humane comic boo ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, hoopla
The grim and gritty 70's era of comics seen through the eyes of two brothers on opposite sides of the law. However, both of them hate super-powered individuals due to something that happened to them as children. I like how Busiek expands on some of the stories he's told in the past, using the Silver Agent and Blue Knight to great effect. There's a lot of analogues to Marvel's characters from the 70's like Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, and the Punisher. By this point, Busiek has mastered telling small ...more
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: superhumans, comics
This was quite ambitious. Like many of the Astro City short stories, The Dark Age looks at superheroes through the eyes of the normal people they're saving. Or not saving. It's the scope of the story that's really ambitious. Following two brothers over the course of years of their lives and 16 issues (an eternity for an Astro City story), The Dark Age is Busiek's take on Grim and Gritty heroes. Anybody could just pick this up without reading any of the other Astro City stories. But why would you ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: superhero-comics
I knew the story reminded me of something. That something was "Marvels", also by Busiek. The little man, in this case two brothers who followed opposite paths in life (one a cop, one a small-time crook), lives in a world of monsters and heroes, and all he can do is watch. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good.

It wasn't as good not because "Marvels" was, well...about MU superheroes. It's just that "Astro City" didn't vibe well. The story was overwhelming with too many personas and superhero stereotyp
J.G. Keely
There's more than one way to deconstruct comics. Moore's dark, cynical, political style has been very influential--partially because his own works are so well-respected, but also because many comic authors come from the same tradition of British black comedy comics, a la 2000AD.

But Busiek is definitely American, through and through, and his love for the four-color capes comics shines through. With Moore, there's always that sense that the heroism of these supermen is detached, self-serving, and
Shannon Appelcline
I'm not sure I truly appreciated this book the first time I read it; I think it gains texture when read with the rest of Astro City, especially the previous volume which set up some of the characters and plots that are more fully realized here.

Overall, this is a rather magnificent take on a dark and gritty '70s heroscope, full of lots of hero tropes, gang warfare, and other noir-esque motifs. As is the case with the best Astro City, it's also offers a great personal story which gains weight as i
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I can't believe only a few short volumes ago I was ready to write this series off as mediocre and derivative. It seems to me that at some point, Busiek must've just had an epiphany and turned Astro City into one of the greatest comic book series of all time.

It's tough to say since everything in the past few volumes has been so top-notch, but this might be my favorite entry of the series yet. For the first time in the series, we really get a big, epic storyline in Astro City, spanning many y
Todd N
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Out of the whole entire Internet, not one person told me that the 4th volume of Planetary was released. (It was released on my birthday, no less.) I had to find out it was released on my own while reading the AV Club on my iPhone in the middle of night when I couldn't sleep. That is not cool, entire Internet.

But the AV Club review I read also mentioned Astro City and the subset of Astro City called The Dark Age. So when Comic Relief in Berkeley was sold out of Planetary Vol 4, I bought the first
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm more into horror, fantasy and humorous graphic novels, but boy do I love this superhero series. I'd rather read Astro City than any other superhero books, except maybe PS238, which is also a sideways approach to the genre.
The POV in this series is often a regular Joe, and the regular Joes in Dark Age are two brothers, one a cop and one a criminal who both resent the "Masks." The transition from one point of view to the other was seamless, thanks to the color-coded speech bubbles, and their
The harsh 1970s of Astro City are told around the lives of two African American brothers, one a cop, one petty criminal. The unpredictability of this innovative series continues as one of the key Astro City eras is portrayed through the eyes of these brothers! One of the lynch pins of this series has to the Silver Agent mythos - and that is one damn fine story. Re-imagining the dark tidings and happenings of America's Urban decay in Astro City is interesting and includes Vietnam, Nixon, Watergat ...more
Ross Alon
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This contains two parts of the 4 parts story. As always Astro city is Busiek way of exploring how living in a superhero infested world will effect you, the world and politics, and as always, he tells a very human story.

Main difference between this story shows us Astro City in years past and about 20 years of it's history, which is a nice, but might frighten new readers.

If you like superheroes but never read Astro city, you should, Every story is a new surprise, and their all fun and consistant.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This covers volumes one and two of the complete Dark Age storyline.

Every single Astro City single issue and collection ranges from pretty good to really great, and this particular collection that spans a number of storyline decades is the longest story Busiek and his crew have ever done. It pays off a lot of threads Astro City establishes from early on in its run, most notably what ever happened to the Silver Agent and why the city's statue in his honor reads "To our eternal shame." But the focu
Matt Mongiello
I couldn't find a copy of Astro City Vol. 2 so I figured I'd skip forward in the series (and back in time). Maybe that was a mistake, but regardless, I didn't enjoy Dark Age nearly as much as the original Astro City. I get that Busiek is doubling down on the contrast of a "regular Joe" narrative set around extraordinary events, but it just doesn't work here. Or maybe it works to well. Just like the citizens of Astro City, I glazed over at the activities of the Apollo 11, the First Family, Honor ...more
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Busiek has really got this down - telling the stories of the every day people in a world where super heroes are a constant, and using both aspects to reflect upon each other. Although the main story, of two brothers on opposite sides of the law, is almost a cliche at this point, the way Busiek works the heroes (and villains) in is very effective. The telling of the Silver Agent's story, which I'm pretty sure I've read from a different perspective, still manages to highlight the people and the ti ...more
One Flew
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Kurt Busiek manages to pull off so beautifully is a superhero story told from a new perspective. The core of the book is centered around the perspectives of two brothers, one a cop one a criminal, as they live in a world with metahumans.

A lot of books have played with this concept to different levels of sucsess, this is the best I've read so far. If you think of how much of a cataclysmic event 9/11 was in our world, enough so that you can say nine eleven and people know what you are talking
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I don't want for The Dark Age to be the most compelling and interesting part of the Astro City series thus far, but I really think it is. The one-and-done stories seem to be where Busiek's heart is, but there's something to be said for a story that develops a little more depth. The morality and narrativity of his shorter stories are just sort of wearyingly formulaic at time, and while the Dark Age Cain & Abel story is somewhat equally obvious, the entire storyworld is ramped up i ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Manages to tell both a small personal story and an epic tale stretching 15 years at the same time.
Patrick Hudson
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first exposure to the Astro City series and I'm blown away! An excellent couple of books really well done in all respects.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astro city is a very human look at superheroes and villains. Here we see they have much of the same problems we have. Highly recommended
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its longest serial story yet, Astro City jumps back to the 70s to explore when idealism contorted into apathetic cynicism about institutional corruption, including some real world institutions like the police but also the super people who populate this world. This also offers an opportunity to explore the 70s comic aesthetic, with brilliant era-aping designs (John Lennon Doctor Strange!) and new motivations based more on vengeance at any cost rather than impersonal justice. And that’s not even m ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Age follows two brothers in Astro City in the 70s, Charles and Royal Williams, who after witnessing a superhero fail to save their parents, have gone in two opposite directions. Charles is a cop, acting inside the law to be the hero he doesn't believe the superheroes can be. Royal has turned to a life of crime, trying to evade the superheroes and sometimes his brother. All around them, the tide seems to be turning against the heroes as regular civilians start to doubt if these so called ...more
Quentin Wallace
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

This is Astro City in the 70s, and just as comics turned darker in the 70s, so did Astro City. We see people becoming disillusioned with the heroes, who are turning darker and more violent. The idea being one begat the other, and who knows which came first. We follow the story of two brothers, one who ends up a criminal with the other is a straight arrow police officer. It's a dark story but very compelling and something you just can't put down. The art is the same great art that is alw
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The Dark Age, Kurt Busiek's comic filled throwback to a less than ideal Astro City era is dark, gritty, and strangely realistic even though its filled with literal out of this world events. The story is actually about two brothers growing up in the dark age and how their different paths always seem to cross with each other and masks in Astro City. Its done incredibly well. Brent Anderson might have done his best work here as he shifts from street level to cosmic without missing a beat. Amazing w ...more
Scott Waldie
This was the first attempt to build a really epic story arc into Astro City, covering a lot of the setting's prominent characters and jumping back to an earlier point in history. Personally I thought it was a jumbled mess, I didn't really care much for the two lead 'brother' characters, and the writing and plot twists just sort of jump around senselessly and make it hard to take seriously. Besides that, I do still enjoy how it fills in the gaps of the world by showing us more of the Silver Agent ...more
Greg Machlin
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the interest of full disclosure: I am acquainted with Kurt Busiek and have positive opinions of him personally, so one should take this review with whatever dose of salt is necessary.

That said, I'm not *friends* with the man, and this is a freaking masterpiece. Look, at this point, if you're reading ASTRO CITY, this is not your first volume. You already know that it revolutionized the superhero genre by focusing on the civilians and/or the behind-the-scenes interpersonal drama, but not in a "
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loeg-archives
The irony of Astro City is that it's a superhero book that I like when the superheroes aren't part of it. Busiek does a good job with the relationship between Charles and Royal, and their history with the Silver Agent. The first half of the book was very good.

The second half, still solid, but too superheroey, too caught up in super-adventure plotting and not enough in the character elements. There are eight issues in this trade, but I felt the story required five - tops.

Brent Anderson's art is l
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize Astro City was still being done, so imagine my delight when mythfish showed up with The Dark Age in hand to loan me! Huzzah!

This the title implies...dark. This collection covers a storyline that's pretty harsh. It's a good read and really gets into the guts of what life with "masks" around might actually be like, and for that I love it. Just don't be fooled into thinking this collection is going to leave you feeling happy and warm and fuzzy all over. Thoughtful and inten
Graeme Dunlop
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this graphic novel before, but I didn't finish up reading the second one. This and the second part form a narrative of what happened to/in Astro City between the late 60's and the mid 80's.

And, of course, it also charts how superhero comics changed in that period, from innocent to grim.

The anchoring character is the doomed Silver Agent, travelling between times to arrive -- just in time? -- at critical points in history.

But we also see how people's attitudes to the "heroes" change. Up.
And now I've read all of Astro City. This was the last of them, the one the Multnomah Library and Clackamas Library didn't have. And wow this one gets bogged down in minutiae. But has a strong finish. And I've read part two, though its been awhile and remember it as being pretty good. My other big issue with this one is not being all that interested in either of the brothers, Charles or Royal. But there are a lot of cool bits and this one will warrant a re-read.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This series is a love letter to American super hero comics. And as someone who spent a LOT of time immersed in such tales, this series is just a pleasure to read. I'm almost glad that I had a falling out with comics, just so I can come back to all the great stuff I've missed over the years. The fact that I have many more volumes left before I am caught up -- well, color me one lucky reader!
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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;

Other books in the series

Astro City (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Astro City, Vol. 1: Life in the Big City
  • 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. 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

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