One of the things that has fascinated me since I can remember, even though I hate heights, is space travel. I remember catching the bug sometime in middle school and I’ve never given it up. So I was excited to see a graphic novel that deals with the space race of the late 60’s-70’s. And while you might think, judging from the title, that T-Minus: Race to the Moon would cover just the Apollo missions…but you’d be wrong. Instead Ottaviani and the Cannon’s bring us back to the very beginning of the space race, 12 years before the landing on the moon, to trace America’s and Russia’s pursuit of getting into space.
For me the most important factor of this book is that Ottaviani covers both the American and Russian perspective, which is something that readers don’t always get to hear about (at least outside of Suptnik.) And although he mentions a bit of the tension between the two countries Jim does an excellent job of focusing on the men and women that helped create the space program for both nations and the fact that they drove each other to go to greater and greater heights. He shows them as people, scientists, engineers, flyers, the everyday people who were dedicated to accomplishing their goals and helping man land on the moon. One of my favorite parts of the book is the marginalia that shows the various launches that took place over the 12 year period, whether they were successful or not, how long the flight was, and other bits of information. This is just a great way to read the history behind the space race and see/hear the names of people that worked behind the scenes in both countries that helped make this happen.
The Cannon’s artwork captures the bare essentials of the characters and landscapes that the text describes. Using black and white line work, they give faces to names that would have otherwise blended into the background. The artwork works well with the story. And one added touch that they give us (or the author) is the fonts used. When the story switches to Russia the font style switches to a more Cyrillic style with the backwards n’s. My one minor quibble with the layout is that in some places there is a lot of dialogue crammed into the text books, at times making me feel like I had to strain my eyes to read what was going on. Otherwise it was laid out well.
Overall though this is an excellent book. And the best thing I can say about it is that T-Minus is one of those books that I wish I had around when I was just getting interested in space exploration. It explains everything clearly and presents both sides of the space race, American and Russian, very well for someone just getting into space exploration.
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