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Review: ‘Science Comics: Rockets: Defying Gravity’

Science Comics: Rockets: Defying Gravity

Science Comics: Rockets: Defying Gravity
by Anne Drozd and Jerzy Drozd
First Second, $12.99
Ages 9-13

The Science Comics series is generally outstanding, but this volume is one of the best. An exciting subject is made understandable though our charming hosts, a series of educated animals with connections to space exploration.

The first chapter covers physics, or as it’s put, “What Makes Rockets Go?” Lewis the pigeon tells us of early experiments in hilarious fashion, calling a wooden, steam-powered bird his ancestor. Then it’s Newton’s three laws of motion, illustrated with a sheep, a rooster, and a duck playing with glasses of root beer. (Those animals were chosen because they were the first to fly in a human-made vehicle! It was a hot-air balloon in 1783.)

The humor doesn’t get in the way of the facts, but it makes them all more memorable, as well as lightening up the mood between lots of science. The authors’ creativity is on full display in the content, particularly the visuals. Asides and background notes reward the reader’s careful attention, making the images more than just text support.

Science Comics: Rockets: Defying Gravity

In the second chapter, “Rockets as Entertainment”, mice tell us about fireworks, used in celebrations and as theatrical special effects. Trying to create more and better explosions to impress nobility drove advances in architecture, physics, and chemistry.

But that wasn’t the only use, of course. An excitable bear joins us for “Rockets in Warfare”. To effectively hit a target, rockets needed stability. That means electronics, driven by the military, which led to space travel, including dealing with g-force acceleration on humans.

“Rocket Inventors” covers key historical figures. Through their discoveries, the reader learns many basics about building and using rockets. Then comes “Rockets in the Space Race”, about the Cold War, and “Rockets in Exploration”, with experiments and robots. Finally, “The Future of Rockets” discusses potential developments for interplanetary travel. There’s a more chronological timeline included at the end, as well as a glossary and bibliography.

Science Comics: Rockets has a ton of material, well-organized and well-told. The artists’ straightforward style makes it approachable, while the adorable hosts and their running jokes keep things entertaining as well as educational. A home run for the Science Comics series!

Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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