Tag Archives: Blog Crossover

Read This Too: Astro City

Today, a group of comics bloggers have gotten together to recommend lesser-known gems of the comics world. Comics are more than Brightest Day and Heroic Age, and you just might want to…read this too!

Astro City. Written by Kurt Busiek; art by Brent Anderson; covers by Alex Ross. Published by WildStorm Comics.

A big part of the appeal for many comics fans is the shared universe. Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four all share the same New York. Flash and Green Lantern can fight each other’s villains. There’s a sense that, beyond what you’ve read, there’s more…a bigger world, one where things matter beyond a single story.

Astro City takes that feeling and creates a whole shared super-hero universe in a single book. Instead of following one character or team, the anthology focuses on a different hero, villain, or civilian in each story. The stories are usually about the human element, focusing more on character than on super-villain beat-downs.

Many (but not all) of the heroes are based on classic characters or familiar archetypes. Samaritan is Superman down to the blue hair. The First Family is very much like the Fantastic Four. Others are original, or far enough removed from their sources that I can’t place them.

The first volume, Life in the Big City, features:

  • A day in the life of Samaritan, who is so busy rescuing people that he can’t slow down to enjoy flying.
  • A newspaper editor tells about his first published story as a cub reporter, when he witnessed a team of heroes turning back an interdimensional invasion in the caverns beneath the city.
  • A small-time crook accidentally discovers the hero Jack-in-the-Box’s identity, and tries to figure out what he can do with the knowledge.
  • A woman who grew up in a neighborhood fraught with supernatural dangers finds herself confronted with the very different, scientific dangers that threaten downtown.
  • A neighborhood recluse turns out to be an alien spy, scouting out Earth as a potential invasion target. His decision rests on the discovery that one of his neighbors is secretly a super-hero.
  • Heroes Samaritan and Winged Victory try to go on a date, but their professional lives keep getting in the way.

You don’t have to start there, though. With very few exceptions, Astro City stories can be read in any order. Most of the stories only take one or two issues, and are collected in Life in the Big City, Family Album, and Local Heroes. There have been a few longer ones: Confession and The Tarnished Angel each take up an entire volume, and the longest story, The Dark Age, will be collected in two volumes.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Confession re-imagines Batman and Robin with a supernatural twist.
  • In Family Album, Jack-in-the-Box meets his future son…or rather, three different possible versions of his future son, all traumatized by his death. The encounters force him to rethink the life he leads as he and his wife try to start a family.
  • Also in Family Album, A man is troubled by vivid dreams of a woman he’s never met, and eventually learns that she was his wife before the reality-altering Crisis event erased her from existence. This 16-page story from 1998 is still my favorite take on the genre created by Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • In Local Heroes, a lawyer gets in over his head when he successfully uses the doppelganger defense.
  • In the upcoming Shining Stars collection, sworn enemies Samaritan and Infidel meet once a year for a cordial dinner, while a living “Beautie” doll with super-powers seeks out her origins.

Astro City took a long break earlier this decade, and has been on a series-of-miniseries schedule for the last few years. With The Dark Age finished just a few months ago, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been planning to relaunch the series as an ongoing monthly again, but the recently-announced shuttering of WildStorm may throw a bit of a wrench into those plans (or it may just launch with a DC logo on it instead).

Oh, one more thing: Flash fans might be interested in the Astro City: Silver Agent two-parter that wrapped this month (and will be included in Shining Stars). He’s not a speedster, but you’ll see what I mean. More about this in an upcoming post…

But That’s Not All!

Interested in reading more? Good! I’ve also reviewed The Unwritten at K-Squared Ramblings, and there are a lot of other bloggers participating in today’s event. Check out the lesser-known titles reviewed in these other blogs and read these, too!

Can You Solve the DC Challenge?

In the spirit of Crisis on Earth-Blog and the Super-Powers 25th Anniversary, over 20 blogs have gotten together to create…The DC Challenge.

The name comes from a 12-part miniseries that DC Comics produced in the 1980s, in which each issue had a new creative team that had to pick up from where the previous team left off, round-robin style. This DC Challenge is a set of games, puzzles and trivia questions linked across nearly two dozen super-hero blogs. Speed Force isn’t involved this time, but the Flash is well-represented by Crimson Lightning.

So, step up to the DC Challenge with The Flash at Crimson Lightning, or any of these characters:

Can you solve it?

Super Powers 25th: The Flash!

Super Powers 25th Anniversary!

25 years ago, Kenner launched a line of DC super-hero action figures under the name Super Powers. Today, Crisis on Earth-Blog unites fourteen sites in celebrating this landmark toy line. In particular, check out Crimson Lightning’s week-long coverage, starting with a review of the Flash mini-comic. (“Mini-comic,” you ask? Read on!)

Super Powers Flash FigureThe Super Powers figures were 6″ toys with a twist — sometimes literally. They really were action figures. Each figure would perform an action if manipulated, usually by squeezing the arms or legs. Squeeze Superman’s legs and he’d throw a punch. Hawkman’s wings would flap. Robin would do a karate chop, and Wonder Woman would lift her bracelets to block bullets. If you squeezed Red Tornado’s arms, his lower body would spin.

Naturally, if you squeezed the Flash’s arms, he would run.


Each figure starred in his (or her) own miniature 16-page comic book, around 4 inches high. To keep things readable they typically had only one or two panels per page. Villains and other heroes were pulled from the rest of the toy line, along with a couple of playsets and vehicles.

The Flash (Barry Allen) appeared in four of the mini-comics.

Continue reading

After Flash, It’s Vibe: Rebirth

Ever since Barry Allen’s return from the dead was confirmed nearly a year ago, comics fans have been wondering who would be next to get the Rebirth treatment.

Now, the wait is over. With Flash: Rebirth hitting stores today, DC has announced that December 2009 will see the launch of Vibe: Rebirth, by the now-familiar team of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver.

Vibe: Surprised

Vibe: What’s the Buzz?

In the early 1980s, the Justice League of America took on several new members as the “big guns” left the team. Paco Ramone, a Detroit gang leader with the ability to generate shock waves, decided to give up his life of crime and join the League as Vibe.

Vibe was a member of the Justice League from 1984 until 1987, when he was killed by one of Professor Ivo’s androids during the Legends crossover. He was the first member of the Justice League of America to die in the line of duty.

More than an Echo

On Tuesday, Ethan Van Sciver posted on his forum at the Comic Bloc:

Based on pre-sales success of Flash: Rebirth, Dan [Didio] has given me and Geoff the go-ahead to move forward with the next chapter in the Rebirth trilogy: Vibe: Rebirth.

Based on pre-release? It’s certainly not unprecedented. Just a few days ago, Paramount hired a writing team to write a sequel to the new Star Trek film, which won’t be out for another month.

When asked whether the artist would be able to hold to a schedule for another monthly project so close on the heels of Flash: Rebirth, he explained, “DC gave us a lot of lead time on Flash, so I should have plenty of time to get started on Vibe.”

“I hope this lays to rest any fears fans have about me being a ‘Silver-Age fanboy,’Geoff Johns said. (Personally, given the tendency among many fans to think the Silver Age lasted right up to 1985, ignoring the Bronze Age entirely, I wouldn’t count on it.) When asked if he could provide any details of the story, he simply said, “Wait and see.”

Why Vibe? Why Now?

More detail came from Dan Didio, who told Newsarama:

It was really a melding of events. First of all, with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern all leaving the Justice League, Dwayne McDuffie wanted to try and bring back some of the feel of the Detroit-era League. And what character is most associated with that League? Vibe! Plus we had some very positive fan response to his appearances in Trinity. And orders for Flash: Rebirth have been phenomenal. We want to strike while the iron is hot, so I asked Ethan if he’d be interested, and he just jumped at the opportunity. Literally, he jumped. I could hear the thump on the other end of the phone.

There is a downside, though. Just as Ethan Van Sciver had to scale back his involvement with Blackest Night in order to do Flash: Rebirth, Geoff Johns won’t be available immediately for the post-Rebirth relaunch of The Flash. “I’m sure the fans will be happy to know,” Didio said, “that for the first six months of the ongoing, the Flash will be in Judd Winick’s capable hands.”

Winick himself was unavailable for comment.

Once Upon a Geek has more information, including an interview with Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver and background on Vibe and his successor, Reverb.

Update: The blogosphere is starting to hum with commentary: Crimson Lightning is disappointed to hear that Geoff Johns will be leaving the Flash once again. Justice League Detroit is upset, asking “What were they thinking?” Fortress of Baileytude, however, has been won over to enthusiastic support.

Update 2: This is, of course, an April Fool’s joke! Thanks to the Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon a Geek for planning the event — it was a lot of fun coming up with the fake quotes and trying to make things almost fit!

Vibe preliminary sketch

Flash: Crisis on Earth-Blog (Alex Ross and George Perez)

Crisis on Earth-Blog

The landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, came out in 1985-1986, but it took until 1998 for DC to collect the whole series in one volume. The slipcased hardcover featured a wraparound painted cover by Perez and superstar Alex Ross. (That edition is no longer available, but the paperback edition is based around the same cover.)

Crisis on Infinite Earths Poster

The Flashes figured prominently in the story. Jay Garrick and Barry Allen shared the story that introduced the concept of the DC Multiverse, “Flash of Two Worlds” (Flash v.1 #123, 1963). And of course, Crisis on Infinite Earths featured Barry Allen’s death, and Wally West taking up the mantle. So naturally, the Flashes had a prominent spot on the cover, arguably the second most-visible after the pair of Supermen holding the bodies of Wonder Woman and Supergirl. A streak of crimson, yellow and white runs along the lower half of the cover, colliding dead center in a burst of lightning, and finally images of the Flash disintegrate and collapse at the end.

The Run-Down

Read on for an in-depth examination of the scarlet speedsters on this cover. Continue reading