Astro City: Beauty

February 16th, 2008 by

Astro City floors me. It’s one of those rare comic books that actually reaches the level of high art. A comic that actually means something when you get done with it. It’s a title that I am not even slightly hesitant to call literature. It consistently tells stories that are powerfully meaningful, even when taken out of the context of superpowers and costumes and cosmic space battles. Astro City has all that, but the story is so good that you get to the end of an arc, and you realize that it didn’t even need all that stuff. The part that sticks with you is that human story. But of course the point is that these stories are in that context. It uses that backdrop all the more powerfully to illustrate and punctuate the nature of what it means to be human by contrasting it with the inhuman elements present in the superhero genre. It’s a story telling formula with seemingly limitless possibilities, because the series continues to impress me with new and impressively compelling stories.

This issue in particular, did a good job of telling a very heart-warming story in the context of a relatively feeling-less robot character. We are hearing the story of a girl robot who is modeled after a Barbie doll. (I’m sure Barbie was changed to Beauty to avoid trademark infringement.) She has super strength and can fly, but she is also curt and tactless when it comes to human interaction. She’s made of plastic, and she saves the world on a regular basis, so most people give her a break. But we learn that she doesn’t know where she came from, or who she is, and that question nags at her, troubles and bothers her, making her far more human than external appearances would have us believe.

I’m not going to say anything more, for fear of ruining it for you. But let it suffice to say that finding out about her past is as deliciously fun as it is meaningful and thought provoking.

All in all, another home run for Astro City. You should read it now!

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