After a big four-part story running through "Astro City" #7-10, it's nice to have "Astro City" #11 shift back to the one-off format, letting everyone catch their breath while Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson introduce Raitha. Sure, she's just a personal assistant -- but she's a personal assistant to the Silver Adept, one of the greatest sorcerers on the planet, and that's no small feat.
In many ways, "Astro City" #11 shows what Busiek does best, getting inside the head of an "average" person plunged into the realm of the fantastical. Because while Raitha might not have any magical abilities, she is excellent at what she does -- and when it comes to keeping track of a calendar that spans not only time zones but other dimensions, to say nothing of cataloging the current locations of all sorts of mystical artifacts (to name just two of her many duties), that's a critically important job to be excellent at.
Busiek's "Astro City" #11 script follows that theme seen time and time again; while special powers can certainly make it easier to be a big flashy hero, ultimately heroism depends on the person's spirit. Raitha's keeping an eye on the Silver Adept's schedule and picking up on small factoids and ideas that might otherwise be missed end up saving countless lives. It's a very upbeat story, one that shows satisfaction amidst swirling chaos. And of course, part of what makes it work so well is the manner in which Busiek writes it. The little touches, like the "back yard" that Raitha escapes to for peace and quiet, or Busiek's take on the Rintrah "Doctor Strange" character in the form of Ord, are what make "Astro City" #11 shine.
That's not to take away from Anderson's art, which looks strong. I love the slightly disheveled but still commanding gaze of Raitha as she looks up data, scrambles through packages, and all but shoves her boss out the door to make it to a convocation on time. The mystical creatures in "Astro City" #11 are well-designed, looking alien yet recognizable at the same time. He handles the swirling panic when things go south well, by making those scenes feel cramped and cluttered while still being easy for the reader to understand. When Raitha half-smiles as she tells the Silver Adept about what happened while she was gone, you almost want to cheer; Anderson just nails that moment perfectly.
"Astro City" #11 -- and the series in general -- is a real joy. Dependably strong once again, this comic has a wide appeal. Everyone from "Doctor Strange" fans to just those who like a good character study should check this comic out. Once again, Busiek and Anderson have crafted a winner.