Astro City #22 hit stores yesterday, April 8, featuring the cosmic hero of Astro City, Starfighter. The issue looks at the phases of Starfighter’s life and welcomes artist Jesus Merino to the pages of Astro City. Writer Kurt Busiek and Jesus Merino were kind enough to chat with Comicosity about the issue and what readers can expect to find in Astro City #22.
Aaron Long: Each issue and arc of Astro City examines a different angle of superhero life and the lives of those on the periphery of heroes. What will you be looking at with Astro City’s cosmic hero Starfighter?
Kurt Busiek: With Starfighter, I suppose what we’re looking at most is the hero in retirement. Starfighter was a cosmic hero of the 1960s and 1970s, and his career was pretty much done sometime in the 1980s. So now it’s 25 years later…what’s he up to, how is he handling things, what does his perspective show us?
Also, we get a look back at his past and his origins, and some hints as to upcoming dangers for Astro City.
Jesus Merino: Since I can remember, Astro City has been one of the most positive comics I ever read. Kurt manages to add some light in the dark, even for a hero in retirement. If I had the possibility to choose the end of my career, I’d ask Kurt first!
AL: The cosmic side of Astro City is ripe for exploration. Will this look at Starfighter take us deeper into the Galaxy at large in the world of Astro City?
KB: You’ll certainly learn a bit more about it, at least the parts that affect Starfighter the most. But it’s a personal story, so we don’t range all over space — we stick largely to Earth and to Starfighter’s current home base.
JM: And yet, you’ll find some old fashioned space-opera panels! Yikes!
AL: Can readers expect to see some Honor Guard members working alongside Starfighter, or will this issue focus solely on this single character?
KB: I think there’s literally one panel of Starfighter working with Honor Guard, so technically, that’s a yes. But there’s one panel of Starfighter and an Honor Guard colleague in the next issue, too, and that’s not even a story about Starfighter. So I suppose it’s most accurate to say it’s a story about him — there are other characters in the story who play important parts, but they’re not Honor Guard members. The Honor Guard appearance is pretty much a cameo.
AL: Jesus, you are one of the only artists other than Brent Anderson to work in the world of Astro City. Did working on a series that has been visually defined by a single artist affect your approach to this issue? Likewise, Kurt, did your approach change at all compared to working with Brent?
JM: Definitely. To work on this book has been like a dream, and I can’t think of Astro City without the master art of Brent Anderson. While I was drawing the pages, my test question was “How Brent would do it?”, but in the end it was more “can’t reach that level, try it on your own.” Anyway, the way Kurt writes the story give you lots of possibilities, and I liked to remain faithful to the spirit of the book. And that was the way I began enjoying doing Astro City.
KB: I included more reference, and tried to be more specific about things, since Jesus isn’t as steeped in the world of ASTRO CITY as Brent is, unsurprisingly. But I’ve worked with Jesus before, on issues of SUPERMAN we did together, TRINITY covers and of course his collaborations with Carlos Pacheco on series like AVENGERS FOREVER, ARROWSMITH and SUPERMAN.
I know Jesus is a wonderful artist and a terrific storyteller. So I tried to give him the tools he needed to get up to speed on the characters and their personalities and such, but I knew he’d do an excellent job of telling the story. I didn’t want to micro-manage or anything — I gave him a slightly more detailed script than Brent would have gotten, but that was about giving him the data he needed. Telling the story visually was up to him, and I trusted him to do a wonderful job. Which he absolutely did.
AL: Any final words for Comicosity’s readers regarding Astro City #22?
JM: It’s a gorgeous story from Kurt, with INCREDIBLE GOOD art, and, oh, a cover from a guy named Alex Ross and color from that Alex Sinclair boy. What else? See you again on issue #25! (If I’m not fired before, that is).
KB: I hope everyone likes it — and I’m happy to report that Jesus will be back in #25, just as soon as I get him a script to work from!
Astro City #22 by Kurt Busiek and Jesus Merino is in stores now and available digitally on comiXology.