Dinner At Eight

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"Dinner at Eight" was first published in Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 No.6


Samaritan lands on a rooftop with a bouquet of flowers and makes his way to an apartment where Winged Victory, in her civilian identity, answers the door. Noting that she was unsure in what guise Samaritan would arrive, she changes into her superhero persona and they head to dinner on a date together.

Samaritan muses on the "conspiracy" of his colleagues, nearly all of whom seem to have collaborated in order to provide Samaritan and Winged Victory with a night off--M.P.H. in particular having noted how overworked Samaritan has been recently.

The pair head to upscale restaurant Goscinny's, where they are promptly seated and manage to get drinks while nearly every other patron present (including the mayor, Judge Marston, and Senator Haney) request autographs. Seeking a bit more intimacy, the pair leave--and eventually head, in disguise, to a Beefy Bob's fast food restaurant on Stallman Street.

Despite the crowded and noisy setting, Samaritan and Winged Victory are not hounded by their fellow restaurant-goers and are thus able to hold a conversation. Samaritan recounts his origin--a last-ditch attempt to prevent a dystopian future, involving him being sent back to prevent the 1986 Challenger shuttle explosion. Samaritan notes that, while he's been able to return to his original time since, the future has been altered radically to the point that the location where his home was is now (or will be) a taco stand, and he is unsure how he has managed to continue existing even though the rest of his family no longer exists in the future.

While the couple are on their date, Astro City's other heroes engage in vigilant protection of the planet; notably, Beautie takes out Goldenboy, much to Winged Victory's delight. Both Winged Victory and Samaritan reveal to the other that they're each keeping tabs on the evening's events, unable to give up entirely their dedication to their work, even for an evening.

The discussion turns to Winged Victory's decision to, all other things being equal, champion and protect women over men. At the same time, Cleopatra saves individuals from collapsed buildings while M.P.H. blocks a would-be murder and the First Family fight more super-powered threats.

Winged Victory discusses her women's shelters and self-defense classes, rejecting Samaritan's suggestion that she is as cut off from normal life as he is. She counters that he has a secret identity that, despite his innate abilities, he chooses not to spend any time cultivating; in contrast, she has been unable to take any time off from her work as Winged Victory to even visit her family.

Samaritan pushes back a bit against this claim, noting that "there's always hope" and asking whether the Winged Victory identity is itself a kind of shelter in which to hide. In response, Winged Victory transforms angrily into her superhero persona in the middle of Beefy Bob's, shouting that she refuses to be the "broken, pathetic, scared little thing" she used to be, before she flies off from the restaurant.

Samaritan quickly changes his appearance from civilian to superhero and follows his date, catching up with her at the AstroBank Tower rocket beacon. He attempts to apologize, but Winged Victory stops him, explaining that she sees herself as needing to try and act like the "god" that he naturally is.

At that moment, they both realize that the evening has finally provided them with a moment of peace and quiet. They share a kiss before heading their separate ways--Samaritan toward Palo Alto and Winged Victory toward Sekowsky Street. As they gain distance, Samaritan is able to hear Winged Victory quietly say to herself, "There's always hope."


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