Heroes & Villains: Astro Hustle is the Cure for Your Winter Blues

Hey! I’m back at it again after a week off! Last week was challenging if I’m being completely honest. I foolishly thought I had outrun the seasonal doldrums but man was I wrong. There were all sorts of new releases last week but nothing was really doing it for me. I tried to summon up one of my comics-adjacent tangents but all I could manage was a bit about how much I hate Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Spoiler: SO much).

Well, that’s all changed this week! I’ve got a great NEW book that is sure to delight…join me.

Astro HustleAstro Hustle
Jai Nitz (W)
Tom Reilly (A)
Dark Horse Comics

Luckily for me, the fine folks at Dark Horse heard and answered my prayers for something both “new” and “fun.” They have delivered unto me Astro Hustle. Here’s a brief synopsis: “Chen Andalou, the black sheep of a prominent activist family, returns after being accidentally put in cryo-stasis for sixty years. Chen, a cosmic criminal, wakes up to find his younger brother is now the President of the Galaxy. Chen does what he knows best: he steals stuff and causes a problem.”

I grew up on shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century. The future was a place where the 1970’s and Disco both survived, thrived, and everyone dressed in velour. It was some designer’s idea of how the future would be if things just kept on keeping on. It was simple, it was fun, maybe a little cheesy, and I loved it.

Astro Hustle is scratching that very specific 1970’s era sci-fi itch for me and I love it. I had a chance to read the first few issues (no spoilers here) and it’s a fantastically fun sci-fi adventure book the likes of which I haven’t seen in forever. It’s like the old Marvel Star Wars comic (again something I grew up on) before Lucasfilm had to start controlling every aspect of the property. That book had a giant green rabbit alien in it. The 70’s were weird.

This may seem like a dubious distinction but I promise I mean it in the best possible way…You remember some of the 1970’s and 80’s sci-fi flicks that were regular fixtures on MST3K? Okay…hold on to that. Astro Hustle is like what would happen if one of those movies had 1) an unlimited budget, 2) a good script, and 3) a component director. The thing I always loved about the movies they riffed on MST3K were that they were fun and they had an earnestness about them.

Astro Hustle is a fun book and we (okay mostly me) need a fun sci-fi romp with boundless creativity and spirit that ISN’T Saga right now. The design work by Reilly is absolutely amazing and weird in equal measure. I personally feel like a lot of genre stuff now takes the easy way out and opts to make it look like either Blade Runner or The Matrix. Not that there’s anything wrong with that..but sometimes I want to see a bunch of colorful, spandex-clad, space pirates over a bunch of grimy folk in leather.

Nitz and Reilly clearly seem to be having a blast with this book and it shows on every page. As part of the special powers granted to me as a card-carrying member of the comics Illuminati, I got to take a peak at issues 2 and 3 (out 4/3 and 5/1 respectively) and there’s more great stuff coming after the first issue. There’s a backup story in the second issue that I already want to see more of.

Clearly I must be losing my touch since I’ve made it through this entire column without making a single joke about The Hustle. Anyways, boogie on down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy of Astro Hustle today.

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