Sunday, February 1, 2015

Astro City #19

The spotlight still shines on background character Quarrel as we're told a story you won't find in Marvel or DC. That of a super heroine who's starting to get old.

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Andersson
Publisher: Vertigo

Summary: The life story of Jessica Taggart, the Astro City heroine known as Quarrel, continues as she reminisces about her early days as a costumed crime fighter and ups and downs of her relationship with the vigilante known as Crackerjack.

My thoughts: While this most recent run of Astro City has brought more focus to many of the super hero characters, rather than the people around them, than the ones before it we're still treated to stories that you just won't get at Marvel and DC. Here we have a super heroine who is faced with the real issue that she's starting to get a bit old for the adventurous life of saving super heroing. While the things Quarrel's done and her life in general has been an amazing adventure it is presented and examined in a very realistic fashion which makes the reader care for Quarrel.

In Quarrel we have a normal woman, normal in the sense that she isn't a larger than life archetype like say Superman or Captain America, who lives an extraordinary life. Her perspective brings a very down to earth on even the grandest of super hero action and puts it on the same level as her relationship with her three younger brothers. So she becomes very relateable to readers and her perspective gets you engaged in the action in ways most readers just aren't used to. It's not a cyncial deconstruction of the super hero from within or a hymn full of glorious praise. It's just an inside look from a normal person who's lived the adventure.

A lot of focus is also put on Quarrel's relationship with the daredevil vigilante known as Crackerjack. He's loud, flirty, kind of a jackass and he desires the spotlight. They're in an on and off again kinda unspokenly open relationship. They have their own personal drama, don't put up with each others' BS and Quarrel doesn't know why she keeps coming back to him, or at least she didn't know when she was younger. She's older now, but that's for next issue. It's a different kind of relationship and it's fun to see it explored so maturely and intentionally, rather than being the cause of several writers having different ideas about who the hero should be together with.

Overall I rather like this issue, and Quarrel's story arc in general. It's nice to see aging treated as a natural and factual part of life instead of some epic tragedy or how the character is still an uber-badass despite their advanced age. It's just something that happens and it make the lead character reflect on her life and how she should proceed with it. It's basically a slice of life story dressed up in a super hero costume, and it works really well.

Grade: 3 - Solid

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