Astro City by Kurt Busiek (words), Brent Anderson (art) and Alex Ross (covers). Published by Image Comics originally, currently under Homage Comics/Wildstorm Signature. Ongoing series, 1995-present.
In the mid-90s, before people grew truly sick of the “darker and more realistic take on superheroes” came Astro City, a series that, figuratively speaking, spit in the face of convention. There’s none of the sneering grim’n gritty that worked so well for folks like Mark Millar, Garth Ennis and Frank Miller. There’s no smug mocking of the silly caped crusaders of the past, just a love of superheroes that almost seems like a throwback to the Silver Age of comics. Busiek understands his heroes, perhaps more than any other writer working today, and it shows in every page. Only Alan Moore’s superb run on Supreme can match Astro City when it comes to building a world that feels both fresh and familiar, neatly sidestepping every cliche and slightly tweaking every stereotype you know so well in a way that’ll make both inkstained veterans and freshfaced readers go all fuzzy inside.
Excellent art coupled with great stories and believable characters make this a series you need to read, but it’s the earnest love that lives in every page that makes Astro City a modern classic in the making.
"And then […] there is Astro City. Which traces its lineage back in two directions - into th world of classic superhero archetypes, but equally into the world of The Kryptonite Kid, a world in which all this stuff this dumb wonderful four-colour stuff has real emotional weight and depth, and it means more than it literally means.
And that is the genius and the joy of Astro City.”
- Neil Gaiman
"There’s the central task facing artists who make up new superhero comics: to restore the genre’s essential luster. Busiek, Anderson and team have weighed in with their best efforts, and I’m plenty impressed. I trust you will be, as well."
- Frank Miller