Our first lettercolumn of 2016! Tra la!
Let’s see what it said in the comic…
As I write this, scrambling to make an early-December deadline before my wife’s company Christmas party and a flight to Florida tomorrow morning, we’ve only gotten three letters in response to ASTRO CITY #29, and one isn’t even about the story. So it goes, sometimes. At the very least, it’ll make writing the online lettercol a snap.
But luckily, one of those letters makes a fine choice for our Letter of the Month. Take it away, Simon:
I’ve reached a time in my life (let’s leave it at middle-aged), where ever-quickening reboots and reinventions, not to mention endless empty promises that the world will never be the same again, no longer quite do it for me. As a consequence my superhero comics purchases have dwindled considerably in the last couple of years. Dwindled, but not disappeared completely. The reason for that is ASTRO CITY. The universe it depicts is free from the groaning weight of constantly-revised continuity, and concentrates instead on honest to goodness storytelling. Indeed, Astro City is a place where such stories—with beginning, middle and end—can still be told in the space of twenty or so pages. This month’s story, “The Menace from Earth,” will run a little longer, of course, but deserves to.
The story, told from the viewpoint of a complex alien culture, was essentially one of mistrust and misunderstanding. In such an atmosphere, the eruption of violence with which the issue concluded was almost inevitable. Arriving as it did in the wake of the terrible events in Paris, ASTRO CITY #29 felt astonishingly prescient. ASTRO CITY #30 can’t come soon enough for me. I just hope that when it does, the resolution doesn’t turn out to be too easy and straightforward. Such problems in our own world have no simple solutions, and despite the presence of superheroes, I imagine things are much the same in Astro City. Everything I have read in the last two decades leads me to suspect you will not disappoint.
As I write this, I can only hope that #30 delivered on what you hoped, Simon. As you read it, of course, you already know. So write in and let us know how we did!
We, of course, weren’t thinking about Paris (how could we be?) or any Earthly cultures when putting together “The Menace from Earth” and “Enemy of the Empire,” just messing with classic superhero comics tropes—in this case, the militaristic alien empire—and looking for a new angle on it, a way to explore a human story by looking at the lives of characters we don’t normally get to see in a story like that. It wasn’t one of the story concepts that went into the original series proposal, but it’s been kicking around for a very long time, and it was good to finally get to it.
So now that it’s out, I can certainly see echoes of current events, but can’t say that they shaped the story or the ending. If they had, I think I’d have tried to make the Zirran Empire more nuanced—but hopefully there’s nuance enough in Zozat, Ziriza and company, and the possibilities inherent in their hoped-for future.
That said, thanks very much for the letter, Simon, and like always, them what writes the Letter of the Month gets the goodies. Or in this case, goodie. So e-mail us your mailing address, and we’ll send you a signed by me) copy of this issue, as only the crack Juke Box Productions support team can.
And that brings us to the end, except for what will be a short online column, I expect.
Let’s find out!