REVIEW: 'Astonishing Times' #1 by Frank J. Barbiere, Arris Quinones, Ruairi Coleman

Noah's love for superheroes is going to be challenged when his world is turned upside down. Sometimes it's best not to meet your heroes. 

ASTONISHING TIMES #1

Writer: Frank J. Barbiere, Arris Quinones

Artist: Ruairi Coleman, Lauren Affe

Letters: Taylor Esposito

Publisher: ComiXology Originals

Release Date: July 28, 2021

Cover Price: $2.99

Noah Sans, a young reporter living in the shadow of his father, lives in a world full of superheroes -- but no one seems to care. After a world-changing event called The Cataclysm, people moved on, and now heroes are old news. But when Noah begins investigating a mysterious murder, he comes face to face with his most revered heroes and is forced to confront a secret past that could change the world forever.

Astonishing Times is a love letter to the medium of comics and a celebration of superheroes old and new. Award-winning writer Frank J. Barbiere returns to creator-owned comics alongside Arris Quinones, host of YouTube's Variant, to craft a modern classic that redefines superheroes for a new era with stunning art by RuairĂ­ Coleman and color artist Lauren Affe. Together, the team hopes to inspire a new generation of fans young and old, and remind us all that heroes are everywhere.

Part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content only available on comiXology and Kindle. Read for free as part of your subscription to comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime. Also available for purchase via comiXology and Kindle.

Score:

★★★★★ (5/5)

'Astonishing Times' is a wonderful new release from Comixology Originals written by Frank J. Barbiere and Arris Quinones. The superior art by Ruairi Coleman and Lauren Affe brings to life this world of superheroes that have been taken for granted or forgotten altogether. Since a catastrophic event called The Cataclysm, heroes have blended into the fabric of society and lost is the wonder and awe that comes with heroic figures in capes and tactical gear. The times are not so astonishing anymore. 

For Noah Sans, the thrill and excitement of superheroes have not left him. He's at once nostalgic and optimistic about returning reverence and glory to the heroes among society. He's a young reporter hoping to reach the masses through his column extolling the virtues of heroism. He's also trying to live up to the legacy of his journalist father who perished during The Cataclysm. His passion for writing about capes doesn't match his editor's desire to cut costs or his wife's need for more household income, but he's determined to follow in his dad's footsteps. Unfortunately, when one of his super idols enlists him to investigate a superhero-related murder it could change his worldview in ways he never expected. 

Even though this series is set in a world where superheroes exist the story is really more intimate, more grounded. Noah is the heart of it and his relatable approach to capes isn't too different than comic book readers themselves. How many folks defend the virtues of Superman online? Fans wouldn't pour over every issue of superhero comics if they didn't believe in what they stand for. Noah has the extra burden of being the sone of a celebrated and revered journalist. Barbiere and Quinones establish a familiar world of heroes but tell the story through Noah's rose-colored glasses until the ugly reality of that world reveals itself. It makes for an engrossing tale that pays a nod to classics like 'Watchmen' but not as cynical or heavy. Nonetheless, there's a murder mystery and a conspiracy behind the investigation and that just draws the reader in. The writers don't give away much and readers will demand to know more. 

'Astonishing Times' #1 is a great first issue that establishes a familiar but fresh world of heroes with plenty of secrets to be discovered. It's an engrossing read with a likable lead character who gets caught up in something dangerous and mysterious. It's a love letter to the medium of comics and 'Astonishing Times' is showing what makes this form of storytelling so addictive and fun. 

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