Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Club : September Review

Astro City : life in the big city

Average rating - 7.5

Life in the big city is the first of eight collected editions chronicling the lives of both superheroes and everyday citizens living in the fictional world of Astro City. This volume featured six chapters , each of which was its own short story, that introduced the reader to characters and locations unique to the Astro City series.

Six Chapters, Six Stories

As previously mentioned the book is made up of six short stories….which have almost nothing to do with one another. Although it was less of an issue for some than others this was one of the main things that contributed to the lower scores given.

“I need at least a little bit of continuity” - Remi

Each story on its own had a definite beginning, middle, and end that left you satisfied with having been told a complete story but as a collection it was left feeling a little flat.

“It never really went anywhere” - Rick

I personally read a lot of novels , most of which are part of a series , so despite the fact that I really enjoyed some of the stories like “Shadow Hill” the stand alone feel of the chapters left me feeling like the writers wanted to tell me a really great story but couldn’t decide which one. This however wasn’t a problem for everyone.

“I liked the lack of story arc, it was a good intro to each character” - Colin

“The stories being told from different perspectives really clicked with me, I liked that the chapters are not all that connected” - Dennis

City and Characters

To call most of characters filling out the stories original is a bit of a stretch with most of them falling into very familiar superhero stereotypes with slight twists added, this combined with the short story aspect made for a lot of hit or miss reviews on the subject.

“It reminded me of bad superhero TV shows” - Keenan

“I liked the different take on classic characters” - Scott

Some of the exceptions to the stereotypical characters included a pro-hero reporter, an office worker, and the mysterious floating Hanged-man who managed to have impact despite only appearing in two panels.

Normally a world filled with mostly knock offs and nine to fivers would come of as lazy if not for the sheer amount of work put into the creation of the city.

“The city maps made it, the story wouldn’t have been as good without it” - Rene

“The city was really cool, kind of felt like it was my favourite character” -Dennis

Astro City itself really is the main character of this story with the most favourably reviewed stories being ones that featured both heroes and everyday people coping with life , work, and dating in a city filled with super powers, unique monster filled locations, and the occasional shark-man.

“There was no continuity but I liked that because the story was about the city not the people” - Mathieu

Artwork and Design

Like most of the aspects of life in the big city that we reviewed it was a fairly hit and miss subject. Most of us found the planning and layout of the book appealing but it did suffer from some cramped splash pages and the occasional bout of overdone shading.

“ The cleanness of the layout and artwork were good” - Gabriel

“It was well planned but the shading was overdone” - Scott

“Artwork was serviceable…. Very colourful” - Matthew

Some of the opinions on the artwork varied due to the fact that they included some of the original issue cover work which had a different artist that the interior itself leading to characters that sometimes looked seriously bad ass….

…. And other times looking like a Thundercats reject.


Hit or miss really sums up the discussion on this book. We had both newbies to the series and those who were on their second read through and despite the fact that everyone had complaints on some aspect or another most of us found it a good if not entirely great introduction to the series with a lot of appeal for a re-read.

“Nothing that makes me exited after reading it, but nothing that makes me want to start a fire with it either” - Jeff

“ I enjoyed it more than Top 10” - Gabriel

It also bears saying that it is an older read having been originally published in the mid 90’s and that many of us felt it was something that paved the way for bigger and better things.

“I can see where people drew inspiration from it” - Remi

Personally I gave it a seven and would definitely be willing to continue reading the series in the hopes that it will build on some of the more captivating story lines in the collection.

“Overall I do recommend the book, although your enjoyment from it could vary from story to story” - Jeff


Picked the book : Matt - Rating 8

“It was a good intro book, it makes me want to read the rest”

Harshest critic : Rick - Rating 5


Best rating : Dennis - Rating 8.5

“I see a lot of potential for further stories and interesting ideas”


  1. Great review Jenn!

    Just a reminder to anyone interested that the next book club is October 26th at 9:30pm. We'll be reading Petrograd this time around!

    Next month's read is Infinity Gauntlet!

  2. Yeah great work Jenn, this actually makes me interested in the book club again. :)