Graphic Novel Review: ‘Astronaut Academy: 1st Semester’ by Dave Roman

Astronaut Academy: Zero GravityAstronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun read for all ages! If you’re a kid then hopefully you can appreciate the sheer wonderfulness that is education in space, such as classes that involve DINOSAURS, and there’s a decent side dish of teen flirtations so that’s cute and/or relatable…and if you’re my age or older, you can appreciate all the shoutouts to 80s-90s cartoons, especially the ones coming straight from Japan, as well as live-action stuff like the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

You can read the blurb for a general idea of what this is about, although I don’t think the plot alone is the selling point. It’s the whole package, taking a lot of tropes about school and science fiction and just having a lot of fun with them. Seriously, this is such a fun read.

The artwork is wonderful greyscale, and before you retreat to the convenience of color let me tell you now that well-done black and white can be some of the best stuff ever. (Full disclosure: Roman & I spent several minutes geeking out about the wonderfulness of Jeff Smith’s inks in ‘Bone‘ at ALA.)

To be honest, I think this series would be overwhelming in color. It’s got lovely loose, flowing lines, and relatively simple art that conveys a lot of information without resorting to textwalling or a level of detail that would require super-thin inks. The pace of the story is rapid and the art hits the right level to feed you what’s going on without jumping into the realm of brainmelt, which I could easily see happening with a full color palette. This isn’t a monochrome story.

The narrative hops across different characters at the school, although there’s an overarching plot that things feed back into. Sometimes you have to wait a little to get back to it, but I never even approached the realm of boredness. As I said, this is a fast-moving story and, yes, technically for a younger audience which works out great in the modern ADD age and also if you’re a cool person who likes cool things.

My only real complaint is there are a few typos—I thought ‘BEE’ (you’ll know what that is when you get there) was one too for a few seconds—it’s still readable, but it’s the kind of thing that makes me hope extra hard for a reprint because a) this is awesome and b) it’d be nice to see those cleaned up. (And then made into required reading in school. Yeeeeees. Seriously, it hits some great themes and would, I think, get reluctant readers in without dumbing anything down.)

Also, the cover was shiny. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t know what will.

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