restricted access Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity (review)
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Reviewed by
Roman, Dave. Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity; written and illus. by Dave Roman. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2011. [176p]. Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-620-6 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6.

Despite his planet-saving skills and superheroics as the leader of Meta Team, Hakata Soy still has to contend with his mother, who believes in a proper education and sends him off to Astronaut Academy to obtain one. Said education turns out to be more interesting than Mom had likely realized, with lessons in anti-gravity gymnastics and fireball usage, and Hakata manages to make a place for himself amid the rather strange curriculum and even wackier students as he deals with the everyday dramas of obsessive crushes, grumpy roommates, and the occasional murderous robot. As a series opener, this graphic novel is not so much a story as it is a parade of introductions to characters who seem to serve little purpose beyond setting up one-line jokes and visual gags. Hakata is the protagonist (maybe?), but we often don't see him for pages at a time as other characters provide explanations of the rules of the world or simply offer up their own absurd tangent. To be sure, the humor is spot on for the age group and will certainly elicit some hearty guffaws, but even young readers may find themselves lost amidst the rather large narrative gaps. The art has a pleasant cartoonish feel but it is often overwhelmed by the text, a dizzying effect that only adds to the jumbled story. Most readers would be better served by Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl (BCCB 1/11), but youngsters secure in the tropes of graphic novels may be able to navigate their way through the amiably goofy story in preparation for real takeoff in follow-ups. [End Page 537]