Astro Hustle #2
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jai Nitz
Artists: Tom Reilly & Ursula Decay
The first thing you should know about hustle is that it’s aggressive, it can’t stop. If you’re gonna hustle, you need to be ready to push constantly. Even when Astro Hustle #2 has downtime, it keeps going, moving characters forward without losing its touch. I can only compare my hype for this series alongside that which I have for Bitter Root. This book works in the same vein, taking a genre and remolding it, adding to the visuals and mythos. If there’s one series you go out of your way for, make sure its Astro Hustle.
We open on the chase from the last issue, with Igor Roberts closing in on Chen and Svetlana’s ship. Nitz’s pacing is incredibly, moving fast like the book’s namesake without being wasteful or bloating to nonsensical levels of exposition. Every moment is building characters, fleshing out backstory, or moving plot forward with responsible and believable story moments. Of course, belief is certainly stretched a bit longer than usual in this world, but that’s part of the charm. Taking its faculties from absurdity, the book can jump to a new scene while having its stitches weaving properly from the last one.
Perhaps the best example of the story’s fluidity is Chen and his thoughts. Early on, we learn his brother is actually President now, a complete 180 from last issue’s implication of Hanuman’s fate. Chen depicts his family as always having been pushing the envelope with their government, leading to his father’s execution. The revelation that his brother holds such high authority now leads Chen down a hole of introspection, stemming from distrust. These thoughts carry his internal monologue through the issue’s settings. With surprises at Hanuman’s ascension, Chen thinks Hanuman follows his father’s path without understanding the man his father truly was. The stark details which seed mistrust of all in Chen, including of his own actions, is the issue’s main thread.
While the inner conflict of the issue comes from one revelation, the poignancy and impact is from the art. There’s less flash for Reilly and Decay to get up to in this issue, but that’s no challenge for them. Their art doesn’t need action to shine and I’m loving it. The ambiance alone that Decay’s colors create in the shady grifter bar make the issue. Readers immediately know the kind of place the scene’s set and exactly what kind of business is going down. Then Reilly’s linework gives a whole new meaning to moodiness when making Chen’s expressions. I can even tell through Svetlana’s smiles alone that she’s the one in most control of any situation. It’s a gift to have this art team work their magic on such a bodacious book.
With the second issue, Astro Hustle settles itself as one of my favorite comic series to date. The story is interesting and Nitz’s writing doesn’t miss a beat. The art is simply stunning and has me wanting more team-ups from Reilly and Decay. If you’re a fan of quick-pace, high-intensity stories or old school 80s action romps, this is your book. Do not miss out.
Astro Hustle #2 continues the high energy and exuberant world-building of last issue, proving that Jai Nitz, Tom Reilly, and Ursula Decay are truly a powerhouse team.