Here’s another basic comics shelf no brainer: Astro City, the fictional superhero universe created by writer Kurt Busiek, artist Brent Anderson and cover artist/designer Alex Ross. Something of a conceptual spin-off of Marvels by Busiek and Ross, Astro City takes place in the titular city, in a world where superheroes are commonplace, and follows the emotional and cultural ramifications with a huge cast of characters, super and mundane.
A few issues of this are available for free on ComiXology, including Astro City #1 in which we meet Superman analog The Samaritan and learn the price he pays for saving lives. (Preview pages below) Also available are Astro City #½, a short story about a man who has haunting images of a woman he may never have known, and Astro City Flipbook, a recent introduction to the world of Astro City prior to its reintroduction at Vertigo.
With the indelible, powerful but somewhat sinister Ross cover images, lush classic art by Anderson and insightful writing by Busiek, this is one of the best superhero deconstruction comics ever, with piles of Eisner and Harvey awards. It’s also got a pretty complicated publishing history, but all the most of the more than a dozen collections still in print , you can go as deep as you want. It’s also available digitally.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.