ASTRO HUSTLE #1
ASTRO HUSTLE #1 BY JAI NITZ, TOM REILLY, URSULA DECAY, AND CRANK!
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
ASTRO HUSTLE #1 is well-paced '70s space opera that's dark at times but invokes a greatest hits of sci-fi epics. Chen Andalou is a refreshing sci-fi lead that thankfully avoids stereotypes associated with Asians. Although the story is nothing new, overall, it's a fun space-faring story with some interesting themes to chew on.
87 %
'70s SPACE OPERA DONE RIGHT
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When a rebellious criminal awakens from sixty years of cryogenic sleep, he finds himself in a heap of trouble. The son of a well-known activist, Chen realizes that crimes from his past come knocking hard. What does it mean to be the black sheep of a family? What does it mean to make your own legacy? These are just a few of the many questions in ASTRO HUSTLE #1.

This mini-series is a love letter to 197os disco culture with outlandish hair styles, cyborgs, and clothing. Moreover, ASTRO HUSTLE #1 features a cast of comic book veterans (writer Jai Nitz and letterer Crank!) and newcomers (artist Tom Reilly and colorist Ursula Decay). Does this new series nail its seventies influences? Should you take a leap of faith with Nitz and company? In short, the answer is a surefire yes.

In a Galaxy Far, Far, Away

ASTRO HUSTLE #1 begins in a galaxy far, far away. The debauchery of the crew aboard the Giraud Observatory gets cut short when the sensors picks up a long lost ship that approaches. That ship turns out to be the Sinnematica, which belongs to our hero, Chen. However, the ship is adrift, as all the crew including Chen are still in cryogenic sleep. But to complicate things further, a robot aboard the observatory murders the crew. As a result, he receives orders from from his boss to have the Sinnematica crash land into the nearby planet Tidesky and he sends a recon crew to finish the job.

ASTRO HUSTLE #1
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Then the action cuts to planet Tidesky where we see a sea of corpses. Amid those bodies, Chen miraculously survives the crash thanks to his life vest. From there, the action picks up quite quickly. Namely, Chen’s nemesis, Igor Roberts — a law man — arrests Chen and informs him that he’s been gone for sixty years. Later, at a trial, a judge sentences Chen to death and imprisons him. However, because this is a sci-fi adventure series, Chen manages to defy his fate thanks to an eventful prison break. What happens next? Let’s just say that ASTRO HUSTLE #1 throws a few curve balls to keep readers engaged.

Although the concept of a character who wakes up x amount of years into the future is nothing new, ASTRO HUSTLE #1 manages to feel novel, thanks to great pacing and a good balance between dialogue and art. This series promises a high-octane, space-faring adventure with a hint of romance.

A Refreshing Asian Protagonist in ASTRO HUSTLE #1

Nitz does good job telling us about Chen’s past. We learn that Chen’s father, Brice, was executed for being an outspoken activist. In addition, Chen mentions a younger brother who aspired to be like their father. However, rather than follow in the family footsteps, Chen became a rebel and when his life of crime caught up to him, he became a colonist. Chen comes off as a smart-ass, foul-mouthed hero. In that way, his attitude reminds me of Han Solo’s cocky nature from STAR WARS.

ASTRO HUSTLE #1
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

I’m particularly intrigued to see how Chen’s relationship with Igor pans out because Nitz makes us hate him. Also the story introduces a pirate crew in the final act of the issue. Notably, we’re teased a love interest in the form of first mate Svetlana because she makes a spectacular entrance. There’s no doubt that she plays a vital role in later issues from the way this issue ends.

Newcomers Reilly and Decay do ’70s Sci-Fi Justice

It’s not often we get to see unknown artists take a stab at the big time. Those that are successful understand the principles of anatomy and panel variety, pulling readers into the story. Thankfully, I can confidently say that newcomer artist Tom Reilly is an artist to keep an eye on in the future. With ASTRO HUSTLE #1, Reilly successfully invokes the late seventies and eighties influences that this series pays tribute to. The characters look like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon (e.g. SCOOBY-DOO) with their realistic expressions. One of my favorite pages involves the classic nine panel grid that shifts between Chen and the judges.

ASTRO HUSTLE #1
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Colorist Ursula Decay captures the sci-fi feel with her color work. Best known for pin-up art commissions (think Babs Tarr), Decay complements Reilly’s inks well. Decay invokes the seventies disco color palette well with bright pastel colors such as blue and yellow. Thus, Decay successfully makes ASTRO HUSTLE #1 feel like the comic could have easily come out in the seventies.

Lastly, letterer Crank! deserves some praise because he successfully makes the letters feel organic to the world. For instance, when a guard hits Chen at one point, the WHUMK sound effect shows the rifle hitting his stomach. Overall, the letters add a sense of energy to this issue and are quite excellent.

ASTRO HUSTLE #1 Promises a Swashbuckling Good Time

While the plot is nothing new, thanks to its Asian lead, ASTRO HUSTLE #1 is a well-paced story that is intentionally cheesy. Part of that charm certainly comes from a good script and solid art, letters, and colors. Even if you weren’t born during the ’70s or ’80s, I think ASTRO HUSTLE #1 promises a fun, epic space opera.

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