Astro Hustle #1

Writer: Jai Nitz
Artist: Tom Reilly
Colorist: Ursula Decay
Letterer: Crank!
Cover Artists: Tom Reilly, Greg Smallwood
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Review by Cameron Kieffer

Imagine, if you will, Flash Gordon, by way of Heavy Metal but with a Grindhouse flourish, and you’ll probably come up with something along the lines of Astro Hustle. Taking place sometime in the far future, this space opera focuses on Chen Andalou, a felon with a literal laundry list of charges. His mysterious re-appearance after several decades is trumped only by the fact that he doesn’t appear to have aged a day. What follows is a madcap adventure involving space pirates, murder-bots, sexy aliens, and vast conspiracies.

From the vibrant opening pages to its genuinely thrilling cliffhanger, this book is a funny, violent, and crazy-weird throwback to the 80’s era of UK comics and graphic novels. Writer Jai Nitz delivers a script that doesn’t just build a world but an entire galaxy. The characters are simultaneously despicable and sympathetic. Like in Grindhouse fashion, any character introduced may seem like a major player but end up getting killed spectacularly a few pages later. These moments are pure shock value that actually work because you don’t see them coming, and it changes the dynamic of the story.

The art team of Tom Reilly and Ursula Decay are doing amazing work in Astro Hustle #1 and really bring the story to life. Reilly’s designs are both familiar yet unique and seem to be borrowing from different genres throughout all of comicbook history. Likewise, Decay’s use of color goes from one extreme to another, and the bright, almost neon look of the first act definitely contrasts with the violence that takes place, making it all the more horrifying. The overall art style really does make the book feel like an adaptation of the film Heavy Metal, or at least certain sequences. And while this first issue wouldn’t make parents cringe as much as that film, it’s definitely not for kids.

The Verdict: Buy it.

Darkly funny and endlessly fascinating, Astro Hustle #1 is a perfect first issue that sets up the world and its characters while leaving plenty of room for development and revelations. It’s so much fun to read, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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