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NOW! Comics Astro Boy - Issue Seventeen

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I don't quite know how to start this article. I'm nearly devoid of ideas, and it's probably because I've been writing these for almost four years now. There's nothing I honestly have to warn you about...Brian Thomas has been returned his rightful place as lead artist, but with one exception...he must follow Ken Steacy's script. But jokes that would have been awkward and intolerable seem happy and soft when beamed through Brian's style. Take a look at this chunk of a terrible mockumentary; our comic crew now includes Marc Hansen (0:35) and Brian Thomas (0:45).
Before we begin, I need to mention that I haven't given up searching for who Suzuki & Associates were. I tried asking Brian about it when I was in touch with him. It's possible that it's actually Sezuki, the original distributor of the 1960's anime. But maybe we'll never know who they were in full...
WHOA! What is this?! Astro is so...round! And pink! Things are the proper colours! We're never going to see a whole page drenched purple ever again! Looking through this, I realize my retinas are smiling.
Anyways, the ship prepares to switch into Warp Drive, but it results in some of the clones turning into Ralph Snart. Astro goes to turn it off, and all this sequence does is prevent Elefun from being able to contact them.
They don't hurt my face anymore!
Back at the space station, everybody realizes Astro Girl is gone, and that two of the cargo handlers were unconscious. Rebecca and Elmer react to this with "You don't think--?!" and "Oh no!" so apparently they managed to figure out I.Q. Plenty is involved.
More importantly, in all the panels Rebecca is in on this page, I notice that her breasts are no longer her defining personality trait, being that they're not circled, shiny and half as big as her head. Thank you, thank you, Thomas.
In the meantime, the ship has come down from Hyperspace Drive, and the crew prepares to go out and check for damage to the ship. Meanwhile in the cargo hold, I.Q. and Spud are SWEET MOTHER OF GOD.
That little burnmark is only on one side of the page and
seems to be ink. I think the page maimed itself out of horror.
I think the person at fault is Steacy, for making Thomas draw this. Anyway, Astro Girl pops out of the box she was in and declares the matter of a talking dog "keeno-neato". To be fair, she looks cute as hell in Thomas's style, so I'll put aside the naked midget bastardry at hand.
Okay, I'll admit, this was amusing. I have to credit the illustrations for aiding the delivery...I guess this is like being told you have a malignant tumour, but the diagnosis is sung by Ichirou Mizuki. It's so splendid you forget how to rage. Anyway, the crew realizes they've headed into a meteor shower, and all the clones flip into a new dimension of "BAWWWW". After losing an engine to a sizeable meteor, Astro orders them to switch their back-up engines to maximum power, then goes out and redirects the rocket with his face.
Oh, and then everything goes to hell.
I've included a larger version via link, in case you're interested in examining the buckets of detail Thomas has poured onto this two-page spread. This man has put in the same effort Tezuka would put into something like this, and he deserves nothing less than applause. If Steacy drew this monster, it would just look like the Artificial Sun from the end of the Astro Boy movie. This thing looks like something Gendo Ikari would have nightmares about.
Astro discovers it's...sigh, only a hologram, one that's guarding a planetoid up ahead, and the clones are uselessly flying into it. Astro tries to turn the rocket around, but it goes into the planetoid's gravity pull and crashes.
It's a colour wash, but it's a four-colour gradient colour wash.
The group spills out of the ship, luckily finding the planet has oxygen. Before they can do much of anything, they're herded up by Cybot soldiers and led off down the desert. Astro Girl, I.Q. and Spud have managed to avoid capture by hiding behind a rock.
Okay, I'm losing some faith.
This is what they walk into. King Cosmo (?!) declares that the crew and Astro will be sent down to mine the Caves of Nuclear Fire, which is where the lost space probe occupants went as punishment for being fleshy meat. Why would a massive all-robot planet send a living being succeptible to nuclear radiation into a place filled with, and I quote, "Nuclear Fire"? That's like stealing your friend's dog and making it pull your car. It's stupid, badly thought-out and unnecessary.
King Cosmo mentions that he and the Cybots are prepared to take a "massive weapon lethal to all humans" and turn Earth into the toxic sludge-coated wasteland from The Drifting Classroom. Astro protests that Cybots have rights on Earth now, which I think happened somewhere amidst the mobs of robots acting like pricks.
Because women are foolish creatures controlled by their wavering emotions, Astro Girl runs out and makes the situation worse by being captured. Astro's main battery is dead, but the mini-cell Boynton gave him last issue begins to kick in, helping him pound the crap out of the soldiers.
Do you see where this is going?
It didn't sink in back in 2007 when I first bought this, since I had issue eighteen to look at next, and it all appeared to be a regular plot twist...but this part of Brian Thomas's letter to me gives this sequence a darker meaning.
Unfortunately, by the time they offered the series to me it was already about six weeks behind schedule. And then Ken thought it'd be funny to kill off Astro in his last issue as writer...
Ken Steacy killed Astro Boy.
It was the last time he'd ever have to handle the comic, and in celebration, he murdered Astro through one of the coldest methods possible...torn apart in a fiery explosion caused by a defect in something Astro's own father gave him to keep him alive.
It doesn't look like anything other than a flat-out death scene when you plug in Brian's quote. The next page is a splash page featuring everyone crying and mourning over Astro's sizzling corpse. Astro Boy, for a few weeks in 1989, was dead.
King Cosmo is amazed to see humans mourning Astro's death, and declares the Cybots will return to earth benevolently. Everybody celebrates in front of Astro's corpse.
My brother died once, Akira.
Go eat a bag of dicks, Astro Girl. I bet your idea of a happy ending is End of Evangelion.
So, now Brian Thomas gets to take over next issue, with the honour of cleaning up this insane plot. From what Brian himself has told me, he's loved Astro Boy ever since he was a small child, and the end of this issue has an amusing story from him about him drawing Astro on a coffee table with crayons. ("Christmas was almost cancelled that year.") Can you imagine him finally getting to draw Astro Boy as a job, and it gets taken away for a year? Then he gets to come back and draw Astro's death scene?
Oh, and I've got one more answer to our questions. There are centrefold posters to pad up the page count without putting in four actual pages.
It was excellent. It was excellent, delightful and morale-lifting, with the vague hint that something was very, very wrong below the surface. But then Astro Boy was killed in cold blood, and everyone celebrated over a new plot element in an "ooh, shiny" moment.
Astro will come back next month, though. Just after Brian Thomas is able to figure out a way to get these stupid characters out of space...

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.