Images © Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon & Kevin Cannon.
I’ve read several books about the United States Space Program, beginning with “Space” by James Michener, and it’s a fascinating subject. Then there have been some fine films, too, like “Apollo 13.” What I haven’t seen much about is the Russian side of the Space Race. This book tells both the American and Russian sides of the race to the moon, in parallel, in graphic novel format, and does an excellent job of conveying tons of information while still keeping reader interest with good character studies and exciting events. I reviewed a similar book by the same team a while back, “Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards,” about the discovery and exploitation of dinosaur fossils in the the American West, and this one is just as good. Both are slightly fictionalized accounts of real events, and either would make a great introduction to their subjects to any kid…or adult, for that matter.
Ottaviani and the Cannons make excellent use of the comics format to tell this complex story in interesting ways. Each launch by either country gets a sidebar column, as above. Parts of the story are told simultaneously through the clever use of large panels and small panels on the same pages, each telling a different narrative. Yes, there’s lots of talking, but also quite a few action sequences of launches and reentries, space walks and disasters. You’ll be amazed at some of the Russian events, like their capsule that landed deep in the Siberian uber-forest in winter, where the cosmonaut’s biggest danger was from hungry wolves!
If you’re interested in manned space flight, and the race to the moon, this would be a terrific addition to your library. It gets more across, more clearly, in 124 pages than many much longer prose works do, and with a lot more fun and style. Recommended!