“T-Minus” by Jim Ottaviani

I’ll admit it; I’m biased. I bought T-Minus: the Race to the Moon because it’s illustrated by a friend of mine, Zander Cannon, and his no-relation co-worker Kevin Cannon, both of Big Time Attic. But I introduced myself to Zander to compliment him on his comic Replacement God, from the mid-90’s, so in a way, I made friends with him based on admiration for his work. It’s a nice bonus, then, that T-Minus is a well-written, strongly told story of the US and Russian space programs as they compete first for space, then for the moon.

Jim Ottaviani has carved a niche for himself writing comic books about true-life science, and he’s an able storyteller, mixing fact with invention to move the book forward. The Cannons’ art skillfully assists. It’s clear and straightforward, with distinct-looking characters, a necessity in a tale that might have had a cast of 400,000, as Ottaviani notes in his afterward. The historical facts of the progressing flights and failures of the program are detailed in the outside of the pages, which allows for a facts-only skimming before, during or after reading the whole book. By turns funny, sad and touching, T-Minus does a good job of balancing story and history. It’s accessible for older kids and adults, and is a good jumping off point to learn more about the history of space travel, which Ottaviani aids by including a list of further things to read and watch along with brief summaries. I’ve already reserved one DVD from the library, and I think I may need to watch The Right Stuff again, soon.

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