Sunday, March 12, 2017

Comic Book Review: Astro City #42

By: Jerry Montgomery
March 11, 2017

Astro City #42
“The Deep Blue Sea”

Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art by: Matthew Clark
Created by: Kurt Busiek

Mark Mantle, aka Manta Man. He possesses preternatural strength, genius intellect and the ability to breathe underwater. He is an engineering marvel, fashioning all of his equipment and weaponry that he uses to plunder all that he wishes, a scourge of the oceans.  He is feared and respected by all. He is the object of news stories and spotlight of the media.  He enjoys the infamy, the plunder, the victories. Life is good for the super-villain, Manta Man…but that was a long time ago.

He doesn’t know how long he’s been stranded all alone on the island, or where he even is for that matter. Put there after his greatest humiliation at the hands of Mermaid, that damned green-skinned do-gooder from Oceania and member of the super team, the Honor Guard. Damn her for trying to save him after she destroyed his suit. Her fault! He remembers the good life of victory after victory but he’ll never forget his ultimate defeat either. Now, he spends his days plotting and planning his return to civilization and a return to villainous glory! How long has it been? Is he ready?

Issue #42 of Astro City  deals with the present life of a once proud and successful super-villain, struggling to survive and at the same time, plan his return to a life of crime. Like a modern day Robinson Caruso,  he must use the resources of the island and the sea to live and to engineer a new suit and weapons for his return to the world. Though he able to plan and construct everything that he needs, he still questions if it will be enough. Can something be better? Does he have to perform another battery of tests? Will his things withstand the rigors of combat when needed? (How long has he been here?) The real question of course is an underlying one…is he ready to return?  The question is answered soon enough when he picks up a distress call from a hijacked cruise ship from a found radio. Never has a ship been this close. It’s now or never. Back to the world, back to the spotlight. When he gets to the ship however, he’s faced with more than a few surprises  and is visited by a ghost from his past. Maybe more questions are raised than the few he needed answered.

The Verdict: Astro City needs to be on your must read list. Issue #42 is another great example of why this title shines. The writing of Kurt Busiek does not disappoint, providing engrossing stories that speak to us as human beings with mature situations and emotions that we may have faced or can relate to. Artist Matthew Clark does a great job illustrating the story in a detailed and rendered manner. The painted covers by Alex Ross are also another reason that make this title stick out…they are awesome. If you tried to read every comic offered every month, you would spend a small fortune easily. That’s why, we, as comic readers are forced to be pretty picky outside of our must-have titles. To try out a new title, it could take several issues before you know for sure if it’s for you. Let me take the guess out of it for you by saying,  “YOU SHOULD BE READING THIS COMIC!”. Read this one and you might get hooked! (No pun intended.)

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