Review: Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry

My first impressions of this book were not good. I felt like I was about to read something that was better suited for a middle schooler than a true all-ages book, but after getting used to the structure of the series I was able to enjoy it and appreciate the cleverness of the world that Astronaut Academy is set in.

Aside from being set in space, the story also takes place in the future. This being the second volume I may be in the dark on a few details of the how’s and why’s, but for the most part the explanation of it’s the future and space should suffice for any unanswered questions. The story mostly follows a character named Hakata Soy, a boy born in space and that has begun attending Astronaut Academy at the request of his dimensional displaced parents. While he’s the star of the show, the supporting cast is very full and borderline massive. Thankfully, the structure of the story is that when a character is introduced, they’re given their own headline of sorts with their name. At that point they become the lead of that particular chapter.

Astronaut Academy Re-EntryThe overall story is about Hakata’s second semester at AA as he deals with the fall out with his one-time girlfriend Princess Boots who is dating his arch rival from the Gotcha Birds. While at school several of the students begin suffering from giving away their hearts to a shape changing heart eating monster. That was one of the clever elements of the story is that like in a video game each character has hearts, but they can give them away to others in what serves as a visual metaphor for love. In fact, I would even goes as far as saying that love is one of the major themes of the book along with forgiveness.

While it’s a clever way to introduce each character and give them a spotlight, at first it’s very distracting and really breaks the flow of the story. The unfortunate part is that you have to pay attention to the header since it’s likely a completely different character and scene than what you were previously reading. Eventually you’ll get past it and ignore it when not needed, but at first it’s not great. I’m sure it works well for the webcomic, but it’s definitely not something that translates to trade.

Roman’s writing was actually quite good and I was surprised by the wit and humor of the story. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed all of the characters and some of them served no purpose to the overall story, but most of them were enjoyable. The aspect that I enjoyed the most was the world created with the rival space schools, the Harry Potter-esc sports game and the over-the-top back stories of nearly every student. At times the story was a huge homage to other things associated with nerd culture and that’s what hooked me in. The overall story though was definitely geared towards a younger audience and didn’t offer me anything outside of humor and the occasional nerd reference. I can however see a tween/pre-tween audience thoroughly enjoying the story.

With so many characters in play, the art becomes an important part of the story. Roman’s style is manga infused for sure, but also has a hint of animation to it. It fit the story incredibly well and it’s clear that Roman has a ton of talent. Again the art is geared towards a younger audience, but I found it to be adorable and the character designs memorable to say the least. The Safety Bears were definitely my personal favorite and I enjoyed their simplistic and blunt nature.

If you’re a fan of the webcomic or read the first volume then I would definitely recommend picking up Re-Entry. I don’t know if I would recommend it to every adult comic reader, but I’m sure there are several out there looking for a read that is entertaining and enjoyable and doesn’t have the harsh realities of life infused into the plot. Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry is definitely an escape book as it deals with the first tingles of loves and everything works out in the end as long as a lesson is taught and learned. Also the cover is very shiny, who doesn’t enjoy a shiny book cover? No one.

Score: 4/5

Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry Writer/Artist/Creator: Dave Roman Publisher: First Second Books Price: $9.99 Release Date: 5/14/13 Format: TPB/Webcomic; Print/Digital