Sunday, October 20, 2013

Astro City, Vol. 2: Confession by Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Brent Anderson

Astro City Vol. 2: ConfessionAstro City Vol. 2: Confession by Kurt Busiek

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Confession takes the Astro City series to the next level with this story of a young man who comes to the big city to make his name and becomes the sidekick of the mysterious superhero Confessor.  The drawing and coloring was gorgeous and vivid.  It seemed to almost leap off the page at me.  I think this volume was more emotional and much darker than Life in the City.

This reminded me a lot of Batman, which may or may not be intentional.  I felt like the young boy was both a Batman in the making and Robin at the same time.  He has his share of anger at this father's passing and the way he feels that his dad failed him. And an anger at bullies and the unjust.  While Bruce Wayne was more angry at the criminal who murdered his parents, I think he also resented his parents for leaving him, for putting their philanthropy before him. In the Robin parallel, he takes on a mentor who is mysterious and driven, who inspires his loyalty the hard way. And from whom, he takes on a mantle and continues his legacy.

Some aspects of this novel hit home very closely. It deals with suspicion and prejudice, and the injustice that seems so intrinsic to a society. How people use ridiculous reasons to hate each other, and that allows deep injustice to occur in the world, often right under their prejudiced noses. The fact that being a hero rarely pays off materially, but requires an unflinching commitment, often at the risk of personal endangerment, and dealing with the fact that your work is often uncongratulated and the public opinion can change in an instant.

While Life in the City is a more upbeat, bright view of superheroes, this is superheroes in the dark.  There are moments that hit me hard, and I had to go back and double check that I had read the former panel right.  And I was sad to see my understanding was correct.

I think this is a seminal graphic novel work for superhero fans. Maybe I don't get an opinion (because I haven't read as many GNs as others), but that's how I feel. It shows the truth of the nitty gritty of being a superhero, and the narrator (the young man) is like a stand-in for all of us readers who were in awe of the various superheroes growing up (and even now as grown up geeks).  We can see that it's not all it's cracked up to be.  The first volume also showed this, but I still think it was more of a 50s style, everything is bright version of that. This is the version in which all the illusions are ripped away and you see the unvarnished truth.

This is a strong graphic novel and it deserves a high rating. I think if I wasn't in such a persistent reading slump, it might have been a five star book.  It caught me at a less than ideal time, so I'm going to give it a 4.25/5.0 stars.

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