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Astro City: Astra Special #2

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Kurt Busiek
Brent Anderson
Wildstorm / DC
Plot: The "Commemorative Special" of Astra's college graduation covers a crucial moment in the popular and upbeat status symbol's life. But the price of celebrity comes too frequently and often by surprise even for the ever wary diva.

Comments: Astra is a part of the Astro City version of the Fantastic Four. And unlike other glosses on that pivotal super-team we've seen from Wildstorm and other sources, Busiek's version aren't tortured or cruel. They are, however, quite alien. They really live on a different scale than normal folks, due to their genius and the amazing privileges technological wonders can provide.

Busiek's conceit in this special is to let us see what a young heiress might experience in this heady environment and how she maintains her balance. Astra is a kind of Paris Hilton of the literal stars, but not really. She's too level-headed, and focused on preserving her privacy and maintaining as much of a normal life as possible. So maybe she's more of a Hilary Duff or a Miley Cirus. Definitely not a Lindsey Lohan (who gets a shout out).

Last issue saw Astra introducing her self-effacing boyfriend to the wonders she takes for granted. She can't help it, her life has always been this way. It's not that she's jaded or spoiled, quite the opposite. It's just that her life is amazing. She's not really just an American, or even a terrestrial. She's an international citizen and her destiny will probably leave Earth behind in one way or another.

In fact, one thing she's deciding on doing is committing to a life's work of service at this crucial juncture and boyfriend Matt seems way out of his element as she lets him closer than she ever has before. But she has her reasons and they're revealed this issue in a stunning sequence that uses cosmological energy as a backdrop to the sort of conversation that any two young people might have when an issue of trust comes up. Busiek writes a story of young hopes and dreams clashing with the crass and exploitative interests of popular media culture and, if he fashions no real surprises in the story beats, he does fashion a compellingly heroic character in Astra. She's strong and wise beyond her years, and while that doesn't save her from human emotional pain, it does make her story a bright and hopeful display in the often shadowy firmament of Astro City.



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