One of the most universally acclaimed superhero comic stories in the modern isn't set in the DC or Marvel Universes but rather in its own continuity of original heroes. The multiple Harvey and Eisner Award-winning Astro City. Created by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross in 1995, the post-modern superhero series was launched by Image Comics before eventually moving to DC Comics through the publisher's various imprints.

Winner of the comic industry's top awards multiple years since its debut and with a live-action television series reportedly  in development, here is a brief overview of Astro City and what makes it special.

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Astro City follows an eponymous, mid-sized American metropolis that happens to be the locale with the largest concentration of superheroes and supervillains in the world. Heroes have appeared regularly since the conclusion of World War I with the debut of the Air Ace, who's widely recognized within Astro City as the first public superhero before the number of active super-powered individuals rose rapidly by the start of the series decades later. Among these heroes is the time-traveling Samaritan, a powerful superhero with powers similar to Superman that faces his evil nemesis Infidel after traveling back to 1985 to stop the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle.

The fictional setting, located in an unnamed western state, sees its regular citizens try to live their normal, daily lives as heroes and villains constantly battled one another for supremacy. And, in contrast to most serialized superhero stories, Astro City was largely kept to self-contained stories that were more interested in fleshing out the world than pursuing a grand, overarching storyline across its various volumes.

Despite the busy schedules of its prolific creators, the core creative team behind Astro City has remained intact over the years, with Busiek reteaming with his Marvels collaborator Alex Ross and Brent Anderson providing interior art. Ross' signature painted covers give the series a timeless, classic quality, as if Norman Rockwell had stopped illustrating the Saturday Evening Post in exchange for superhero stories while Anderson's interiors creates a world that feels like an ageless piece of Americana as the series moved through different casts and time periods across its stories.

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After debuting in a time where mindless action spectacles ruled the day, Astro City stood out for its nuanced approach to superheroics. The rotating casts and varied periods were especially key, since the series focused on telling standalone, slice-of-life stories blending superhero action with human drama. Issues could focus anyone from superheroes dealing with the day-to-day frustrations with their heroic careers to up-and-coming news reporters struggling to learn the ropes of covering the fantastical stories within Astro Cit, since the sheer number of super-powered individuals around the bustling burg made every day filled with epic occurrences. And no matter what the stakes were in each story, Busiek and the creative team were quick to ground even the most high-flying story in genuine emotion as superhumans and humans alike faced the trials, tribulations, and ennui of their daily lives.

The first volume of Astro City, Life in the Big City, quickly established the world with heartwarming stories during an era when the mainstream comic book industry seemed defined by endless crossover events and grim, gritty storytelling. Winning numerous awards, it set the tone and mission statement for the series moving forward. Similarly, the start of the second volume, Family Album, after the series moved from Image Comics to Wildstorm in 1996 contained other award-winning standalone stories, using a family moving into Astro City as a sort of reintroduction the series and its world.

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And while Astro City had largely been celebrated for its series of standalone chapters, the second volume moved into a short, serialized storyline following a vigilante named Confessor who defended the city by night and revealed a shocking revelation about himself in the acclaimed story aptly titled Confession.

While the series has continued to feature some of the best superhero storytelling around in recent years, Astro City also produced one of the most critically-acclaimed single issues of the past 25 years, "The Nearness of You." When a man is plagued by dreams of a woman he's never known, he discovers the deeply personal toll that superhero epics can have in a heart-breaking tale that was followed up by an equally affecting sequel story that begin in last year's Astro City #50 and marked the final issue of Astro City as a monthly comic book.

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