What else could I give this but 5 stars? This time Busiek and crew go back to the anthology format, but follow a theme. All of the stories are about family and family issues. The best story in the entire anthology is the very first one, which won an Eisner Award for best single issue. It's about a father moving his two daughters to Astro City to escape the east coast and a messy divorce. He wants a fresh start and some excitement, so he comes to the most hero populated city on the planet and immediately begins to question his decision. As much as Astro City is a home for heroes, it attracts just as many villains and disasters. This story is poignant and real and, as I mentioned in a previous review, really develops the idea of normal people living in a superpowered world, rather than vice-versa. It's very engaging and very well done.
The writing as always is brilliant, avoids the corny, soap-opera like quality of dialogue present in so many comics today and walks a fine line between true drama and melodrama.
Other stories in this volume include a two-part story on Astra, the youngest daughter of the First Family (a Fantastic Four homage) and how she copes with childhood being a superpower. A one-shot on the JunkMan, a piece that focuses on villainy and how normal people can get caught up in being villains and then relish in it, but for reasons that seem very down to earth and very far from the typical comic backstories (revenge, megalomania, greed, etc.). There's also a two-parter on Jack-in-the-Box, in which Busiek explores how a superhero might create and maintain a family and what the consequences of raising such a family might be.
All stories are brilliantly done and illustrated. I think Astro City is probably my favorite continuing comic series. It avoids the ups-and-downs and the soap opera-ness of the longtime continuing comics and the cycles of death and return that ruin such series. Astro City is young and vibrant and there are stories on every corner. Definitely looking forward to the next volume.