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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Review: APOLLO

Those of us old enough to remember the 1960s and the "space race" will know it was a genuinely exciting time to be a child. The endeavours for humans to reach out beyond Earth were rarely out of the news, and it became part of the zeitgeist, influencing children's fiction and toys. We devoured anything to do with outer space. The decade ended perfectly with man finally landing on the Moon in 1969, a moment that those of us who watched it on TV will remember in amazement forevermore. The picture quality wasn't up to much, but that only made us appreciate the distance those images were travelling from. Wondrous times.

The story of that first Moon landing is ideal for comics, depending on the creators of course. In lesser hands, 150 pages of three blokes cooped up in a space rocket and jumping about on the Moon for a while wouldn't be that satisfactory, but Apollo is handled by creators who know their stuff and have produced a compelling read. 
Written by Matt Fitch and Chris Baker, and drawn by Mike Collins (with colours by Kris Carter and Jason Cardy), Apollo uses techniques to keep the story moving along in a visually interesting way that's well suited to comics. The book begins with the launch of Apollo 11 in 1969, then there's a flashback to the tragedy of Apollo One to show us how precarious those missions could be. There are numerous other flashbacks during Apollo 11's journey, telling us more about the three astronaut's personal lives, hopes and fears. Fitch, Baker, and Collins build up the tension well, and even though we know how things turned out, there are still some moments of anxiety for the reader. That's a sign of a good comic, to pull the reader in and keep those pages turning.
Mike Collins is a good choice as artist, and not just because he shares the same name as one of Apollo 11's crew. His 35 years of experience as a professional artist have enabled him to draw anything with ease, and choose layouts that keep the pages interesting and varied. 
The colours by Kris Carter and Jason Cardy suit the art well, although the use of the Photoshop Colour Halftone filter is a little distracting at times. I was a bit disappointed that some dialogue used the F-bomb several times, which I felt was unnecessary. Not that I'm prudish, but because I think Apollo would have been perfect for school libraries, and that language would presumably prevent that. Don't let these small quibbles put you off though. For mid-teens and adults, this book is ideal.

The back of the book has an appendix with technical drawings of the spacecraft plus bios of the main characters, which is a nice bonus. Apollo is a great record of one of the most important events in history, and deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker, and Mike Collins. Graphic novel published by SelfMadeHero, London. £15.99 hardback. ISBN 978-1-910593-50-9

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