Graphic Novel Review: Apollo

Apollo by SelfMadeHero

Apollo by SelfMadeHero - Credit: Archant


Spinning silently through the void, Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins comes face-to-face with the spirit of America in the hours before he has to rescue colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin from onboard the Eagle Lander…

This is without doubt the most surreal element to be found in writers Matt Fitch and Chris Baker’s account of the Moon landing and the preceding Apollo missions, but is testament to their story-telling talent that it by no means feels contrived or out of place. That is unquestionably also down to the artistic skills of the appropriately named Mike Collins, a prolific illustrator who has previously worked on major characters including Batman, Judge Dredd and Doctor Who, as he brings a realism to the piece which totally immerses the reader in the astronauts’ experiences.

The attention to detail is remarkable – research has incorporated books, official documents and recordings (so a lot of the speech is completely accurate), but also draws on the personal stories and experiences of the Apollo 11 triumvirate, including Buzz’s relationship with his father and the tragic death of Armstrong’s young daughter, as well as Collins’ own feelings about not joining the actual lunar landing.

With the 50th anniversary of this historic event just months away, the release of this labour of love offers new insights into how three men became the torchbearers of humanity’s collective aspirations.

This was truly a leap of faith for all those involved.

Their mission relied on computing technology which fell far short of today’s average mobile phone, saw Aldrin and Armstrong wearing hand-stitched space suits which had never been tested, and required Collins to perform a remarkable docking procedure to bring his fellow astronauts home.

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With the odds of them making it around 50-50, the book reveals Collins’ fears about returning to Earth as the only survivor, and how President Nixon had prepared a speech to the nation in the event of the trio’s deaths.

A truly remarkable account of perhaps the greatest feat of human engineering and science ever achieved, this is undoubtedly one of the finest works of graphic fiction I have had the privilege of reading, and cannot come more highly recommended.