Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker and Mike Collins
|Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker and Mike Collins|
|Reviewer: James Donald|
|Summary: This is an amazing slice of history that adds extra depth to a story we know well. See the Moon Landings again in a fresh new light.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: April 2018|
|Publisher: Self Made Hero|
|External links: Author's website|
This incredible graphic novel is a love letter to the Moon landings and the passion for the subject drips off every page. This is a story we know well and because of this the authors take a few narrative shortcuts knowing that we can fill in the blanks. These shortcuts are the only downside to the book. If you've ever read a comic book adaptation of a film you will be familiar with the slight feeling that there are scenes missing and that dialogue has been trimmed. This is a graphic novel that could easily have been three times as long and still felt too short.
With that slight road bump out the way it is time to focus on what really worked. Finch and Baker neatly use an almost Slaughterhouse V approach to the tale at times. Whilst ostensibly this is simply a progressing narrative about the Moon shot with flash backs along the way, in reality it is a lot smarter than that. Mike Collins' art, whilst incredibly realised and grounded, brings a slight dream-like quality to the tale. This quality makes the shifting focus seem less like a flashback and more like we are there, moving in time, unstuck. Buzz Aldrin becomes akin to Billy Pilgrim. When living in the past with a cold and abusive father becomes too tough... "So it goes." and we are back on the way to the Moon.
Our focus doesn't just take in the past but gives us a more rounded look at other scenes from the Moon landings that we don't always see; the families of the astronauts and Nixon. Richard Nixon has undergone a slight rehabilitation of late in some media. Doctor Who and the novel, Crooked, in particular, have shown the disgraced President in a very different light. Finch and Baker don't do this. Richard Nixon is shown as petty and insecure. This is the Nixon that we know and hate; but it is also a selection of snippets of Nixon carefully picked. The impact of these scenes are to deliberately remind us that Nixon is a character in history to be pitied and hated BUT they are also selected because they echo and sympathetically vibrate with the current US President. We are reminded to hate Nixon and we are prompted, without it ever being overt, to consider Trump in the same light.
Mike Collins is one of the best artists in comic books. He has the ability to move from fantasy to science fiction with ease. Whilst all comic artists must be able to tell a tale through the medium Collins is so good at this that his storyboards for Doctor Who are better than many artist's comics. His other two hidden talents are for drawing likenesses of actual people and beautiful realistic machines. You need look no further than his runs on Doctor Who and Star Trek comics to see why he was the perfect choice for this work. All of that said, Mike brings a very different style to the table with this book, and it is one that works. The artwork is grainy, textured and has a vintage quality to it. This is us, today, watching the Moon landings from then, on UK TVs. This is us watching old and degrading film stock that was prepared for a different size, colour and type of broadcast. This is what, for many of us, the Moon landings look like in our heads; it is exactly what was needed.
Overall this is a book with far, far more positives than negatives. The side plots and key narratives needed to either be trimmed a little more or expanded upon greatly but again this could completely be a deliberate choice by the team. We are peeking back in time through a narrow tunnel and having our attention drawn to things we missed the first time. The story we know just keeps on plodding along whilst we swing left and right noticing extra details that weren't revealed before.
If you love history, science, space or just good entertainment then this is for you. Further reading: Richard Nixon also made an appearance in the greatest graphic novel of all time read also Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
You can read more book reviews or buy Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker and Mike Collins at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Apollo by Matt Fitch, Chris Baker and Mike Collins at Amazon.com.
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