I love [b:Marvels|16982|Marvels|Kurt Busiek|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1300165177s/16982.jpg|265304]. It's one of the few graphic novels that I've read over and over, and loved every time. So it's hardly surprising that I also loved Astro City.
I think the best and easiest way of describing Astro City as Marvels, with original heroes. There are a few more differences in setup. Marvels was essentially the history of the Marvel U to that point, while Astro City is more a series of slice-of-life vignettes in a superhero world. And honestly, I didn't love each of them equally. The fifth story, with its focus on the Booster Gold-esque Crackerjack, wasn't quite as good as the first one, which focused on a Superman-ish hero who dreams about flying, really flying, without hurry or interruption. But there wasn't a single story in here weak enough that I didn't like it.
The cast of characters is really interesting. Some of the superheroes look like obvious expys of iconic heroes (Winged Victory is almost painfully Wonder Woman), while others look like far more original creations. I'm especially intrigued by Beautie, who looks like a life-sized original Barbie. Expy or not, the designs are convincing and, for the most part, look great. And we get just enough of a taste of most of them to leave me wanting more. Who or what is the Hanged Man? Why is the Hill so Lovecraftian? Lots of questions, mostly because the world is simply presented as is, without any more exposition than is absolutely necessary.
I read several Astro City trades, though I don't remember how many or which ones. I do remember that this was my favorite of the bunch. I might read more, to see if that still holds true.