Astro City Mail – December

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If This…Be…Lettercol! Well, yes, so it doth be. Let’s start things in the traditional manner, with the text from the print edition…

According to the date up top, it’s Christmas Eve Eve, or should be when this issue hits the stands. I was wrong the last time I tried an opening like that, but hey, hope springs eternal. [ADDED: It’s not any more, but it was when the issue came out!]

For me, it it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. There’s still Halloween candy by the front door, and today I discovered I was dead on Spanish Wikipedia. But someone fixed that, so I’m alive again, and happy to be here. Hope you are as well.

So. Letter of the Month? Yeah, Letter of the Month. And it’s from:

MARK ZUTKOFF

When I opened ASTRO CITY 28 and turned to page 1, my first thought was, “Uh-oh… what are they thinking?” Having the lead character of this book drawn on top of the word balloons? A cartoony style of art which is pretty far away from regular artist Brent Anderson? And then, page 2, which rips off Spider-Man’s origin with a twist? What’s going on here?
 
As I continued to read, I quickly got used to the art, and started getting into the story. Not only was this an homage to Spider-Man, but even more an homage to Kurt’s own creation, Thunderbolts! Neat! And set in Australia, which we don’t see that often in comics. Well done!
 
And then there’s that Australian dialogue. I cannot pretend to vouch for its authenticity, but it certainly seemed so. Except – isn’t “kookaburra” normally spelled with a K in the first position? Did the not-so-good Captain change it for a reason, or are all our northern sources incorrect for its spelling?
 
I was very pleased for an “uh-oh” to turn into “oh, nice!” Keep up the great work, with Brent or any other artists.

Glad you liked it, Mark. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about Spider-Man in writing Wolfspider’s origin. Just how deadly all that Australian fauna is. And after all, the bite didn’t give him powers, it almost killed him. His mom gave him powers in the process of saving him.

I did notice the T-Bolts similarity, but since it didn’t involve redemption of any kind, it was just bad guys pretending to be heroes, which has got to go way, way back in comics history.

I can’t vouch for the Australian dialogue myself, but Gary Chaloner can, and he says it’s fine. As for kookaburras, yes, they spell their name (er, we spell their name) with a K. But Captain James Cook, explorer, cartographer and the first known European to reach the eastern coastline of Australia, spells his with a C. And Cap’n Cookaburra is kind of a mashup of both, with a fair amount of professional-wrestler-gone-to-seed mixed in there too.

[We had to do it that way. There’s already a Australian hero named Kookaburra in ASTRO CITY, established back in the Confession volume. Honest, you can go look!]

Anyway, no worries if you didn’t catch it—Queenslaw was a cartoon aimed at Australian kids, not Americans, so readers may not know what a numbat is, or why the hero of Victoria is named Goldrush, or why “Banana Bender,” but that’s not important. What’s important is that Wolfspider knows…

In any case, since you wrote the Letter of the Month, you get the reward. We’ve said it many times before, but we’ll keep saying it once an issue, as long as we do this thing: E-mail us your non-electronic mailing address, and I’ll sign a copy of this very issue and fire it off to you at a snail’s pace.

And that’s it, except for the online column!

So, uh, yeah. Online column! What have we got, Johnny?

Here’s BRAD:

Dear Kurt,

Wolfspider’s story was fair dinkum!

Too right! Thanks!

[Actually, Autocorrect tried to change this from “fair dinky” to “fair dinky”—which, if you think about it, could also be correct!]

So who’s next? Ah, ANTONIO:

After reading the latest issue, I have to say that Wolfspider is my favorite new hero. He’s very interesting and if he had his own series, I’d read it in an instant. My question is, would you ever consider doing a story on Max O’ Millions. I’m craving to learn more about him to get a better understanding. I’m hopeful that you will do an issue all about him.

My top 4 other characters I want to see get their own issue are:

1. Halcyon Hippie
2. Point-Man
3. The Green guy holding the coffin at Supersonic’s “funeral”
4. A day in the life of Deke McManus

If I ever come up with a story to tell about Max, Antonio, I’d certainly do one. You never know. As for the others, I can assure you we’ve got plans for at least one of them. Which one? Ah, that would be telling.

And then ANTONIO wrote in again with another thought:

I just want to say thank you. I’ve just read “In Dreams 2015” and am happy to see the return of my favorite Crossbreed member, Peter. It was a very cool surprise and it’s cool of you to keep giving us insight into the Crossbreed. I’ve always felt that they’ve been underutilized, which is a shame.

Glad you liked it!

And now, ANDREW:

ASTRO CITY #28 was another great spotlight issue in the Mighty Busiek manner! My question, since I have one, is this: With all the vast quantities of great characters you’ve created for ASTRO CITY, why did you give us Triathlon and Silverclaw for the Avengers? Not exactly break-out hit characters, no. There was Lord Templar and Pagan also, but not household names there either, not now. And another question: Any chance that Astro City and its vast pantheon of superheroes may come to the DC Universe someday? They could still have their own series: ASTRO CITY!

No, sorry, no chance that ASTRO CITY will ever join the DCU. They have their own vast pantheon, and do just fine with it. I’m happy to have Astro City on its own stage, where our characters get to be in the spotlight because they’re not trying to share a crowded universe with Superman, Batman and all that other riffraff.

As for Triathlon and Silverclaw, I think that’s a related answer. If I’d introduced either one of them in ASTRO CITY, I think readers would probably think they were cool, but introducing them in AVENGERS meant that they were occupying space that readers would rather have had used on characters they already knew and liked. Similarly, if the Confessor or Quarrel were introduced in the Marvel or DC Universe, I bet they’d have been forgotten by now, since they’d have been inevitably overshadowed by the already-famous heroes there. And you’d be asking me “How come you tried to have a nobody like Quarrel join the Justice League when you were spotlighting characters like that cool Triathlon in ASTRO CITY?”

It’s hard to get anyone to pay attention to new characters in the established universes. But here, they’re the stars, and they can get the space and attention they need to shine, without readers resenting them for not being Spider-Man or some other character they were hoping to read about instead.

That’s all we’ve got this month! Short lettercol, but I can only work with the letters I get!

See you next time!

4 thoughts on “Astro City Mail – December

  1. Hey, I liked Silverclaw and Triathalon! But then again, I loved everything you did at Marvel back then. Avengers, Thunderbolts, Iron Man, JLA/Avengers… one of the highest points in Marvel’s 80ish year history. I’ve recently been converting from issues to trades, and been re-reading your runs. Also: a game called Heroclix released figures for Silverclaw and Triathalon last year, so they’ve been in a lot of people’s minds as of late. 🙂

      • You based it off 3-D Man! I loved the obscure corners of the Marvel universe you mined from!

        And if you meant the name was lame… if someone were to invent characters today called Batman or Captain America, those names would sound lame too.

        • No, I meant you misspelled it. It’s “Triathlon,” like the sporting event.

          And yeah, I really liked the 3-D Man and wanted to do something with those powers.

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