Review: Trinity

Jonathan Fetter-Vorm’s Trinity is a history of the development of the atomic bomb told in comics.  It shows off comic’s power in relating history rather than providing escapist entertainment very well.  It’s strengths are comics’ strengths and so are its weaknesses.

The main weakness is that compared to a pure text history of the same subject, there are less technical and historical details.  Everything is told primarily through images, not as text or illuminated manuscript, so details must be thinner.  The content difference is similar to the difference between reading a history and watching a documentary.

The strength is in the power of those images to draw the reader into the narrative.  Fetter-Vorm does a great job conveying the times through his depictions of places and events, and of capturing the minds of the protagonists through showing their faces and staging the various scenes.  While few statistics and dates come through, Trinity communicates more context and personality.

In addition to capturing the humans involved in this drama, Fetter-Vorm uses his images and layouts to make the science behind the bomb intuitive.  By using the sorts of images and analogies that were used at the time, he also keeps his sense of time and place intact, even while he is explaining abstract physics. It’s a nice, powerful use of the medium.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Manhattan Project and the personalities involved but have an interest, Trinity will draw you into that world powerfully.  It may spur you to read in more depth later to get additional details.

Strongly recommended.

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