"My skin is ferrostyrene over an omnitanium frame. My breasts and buttocks are rigid. And I have no genitalia."

Kurt Busiek created his Astro City series of comic books to explore the idea "What would life be like if there were superbeings in the real world?" Freed from the confines of a never-ending book (and deadlines) the Astro City books focus on telling the stories of individual characters, and in such stories characters are free to age, to change and stories can come to an end. Astro City is fairly well-defined world, with many super heroes and villains adapted from both the DC and Marvel universes. For example, Samaritan is Astro City's answer to Superman, while Jack-in-the-Box is his nod to Spiderman though both Astro City characters differ from the originals in meaningful ways.

Beautie takes inspiration from a different source, Barbie. She is a life-size doll, and looks a lot like Barbie assuming the doll could walk, talk, fly and punch out a moving semi. She's tall, slim, stacked, with big blue eyes and long blonde hair. Her costume is a lavender leotard with matching cape, all with the corporate "B". She wears a mask. Off duty she likes to dress, with an endless series of well-matched outfits. She likes company, though many would like to pick her up because she looks both hot and human in dark bars. Beautie's life, origin and history are explored in a the first of a set of Astro City character special books. And it's an Astro City book, which means Beautie's tale is both well written and something outside the comics norm.

The next paragraphs contains some spoilers, so skip it if you don't want to know

The book as stated before explores who and what Beautie is-- a robot. A robot who has been programmed to dress like Barbie would if Barbie could dress herself. A robot who likes people and pleasant conversation, and prefers the company of gay men because they, like her, feel 'different' from others and because they won't hit on her. Though Beautie knows how she became a superhero, she does not know her origin, or anything of her past. She feels isolated and rootless in this world, and every so often feels the need to search out her roots, and perhaps surpass her robotic nature. The book is set during one of those introspective periods.

I will not name her exact origin here, that would give too much away. But like all Kurt Busiek's work, Beautie's origin is both surprising and obvious, and well centered in character. Reading about this live-action doll and superhero is both interesting and surprising. It's a good book and recommend it. If you wish to dip your toe in the Astro City universe the single book Beautie character special is a good place to start. But be warned, once you've discovered Astro City you'll want to visit again.

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