Starting in 1933 it has a lot of ground to cover so there is a plenty of jumping about, with a single page often covering a year or more. Large blocks of narration, whilst necessary, are spaced out as much as possible, with the later and better documented events being told through dialogue.
Despite being a true story chock full of facts it isn’t a dry read. There is a lot of emotion under the surface; from the horrors of Stalin’s gulags to the beauty of the first moment Earth is glimpsed from space. There is humour too, mostly from the underfunded and overworked Soviet technicians.
The art is black, white and gray and resembles a newspaper strip style. There are very few backgrounds and fine details except when it comes to the rockets and other space hardware. The panelling is great and very confident with almost no parallel borders and speech and objects regularly migrating across the page. The lettering is crisp and clear and a lot of the factual information looks like it has been done on an ancient typewriter or telex machine, adding a period authenticity to it.
This is a well thought out approach with generous background details and an easy to read format. It’s not a propaganda display and is highly, yet gracefully, critical of the failings of that period in history. You learn a lot more about the man and the political machine that controlled his destiny. Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Incognegro – Mat Johnson