Review – Astro Hustle #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jai Nitz
Penciller: Tom Reilly
Letterer: Chris Crank
Colorist: Ursula Decay
Release Date: 6th March 2019

The cover of this limited run pretty much sums up exactly what you can expect and, despite how this sounds, I mean it in a good way. Groovy ‘70s disco style lettering, Victoriana styled science fiction red coats, flying boats, space pirates, and brilliantly over-the-top costumes. Nicholas Meyer’s quote on the back has the same thoughts in that this is wonderfully reminiscent of the British comics I had the chance to read as a kid. In fact, I could also easily see this as a VHS cover for the films my dad got me into in my younger years.

Opening on a space station where you can almost hear the swooshing of automatic doors and plinkplonk sound effects, not to mention some psychedelic sitar-inspired riff, we’re greeted by a hedonistic crew whiling away their hours. I’ll be blunt and say I was a bit wary of where this was going, and thought it wasn’t likely to be my cup of tea. However, just four pages in, this book takes a real hard course change and I was instantly hooked. Starting with scantily clad bodypaint aliens and gold chain wearing, hairy chested ‘men’, we switch to killer robots and desolation before cranking it back up to 11 for the end.

To say this is the story of Chen Andalou, a dashing galactic criminal and black sheep of a powerful family isn’t exactly a lie, but there’s clearly a lot more going on here. Being woken up from an accidental half-century sleep in cryo-stasis would be bad enough, but to then find yourself captured by an old enemy, tried in a kangaroo court and placed on death row?

There’s a good mustering of ensemble cast here which evokes the big set pieces of De Laurentiis’ Flash or Dune with its Grand Duchesses and spiffy captains, whilst at the same time featuring the delightfully gaudy costuming of Gaultier. It’s an assault on the senses and the team pull it off admirably. The juxtaposition of old and new is even captured in little details in the lettering and choice of text boxes throughout.

Going full circle and looking back at the opening again, there’s some fantastic depth there. Sure, it might obfuscate the story proper to start, but I realise the tone and mood that were set, and the sudden graphic changes set up great pacing for what is only a four-issue run. If you’re looking to be entertained then this swashbuckling space opera might be right up your street.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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