First-time writer/artist James Vining’s First in Space is a surprisingly touching take on the space race.

It’s 1961. The Soviets have already put a dog in space. Now the American’s are training an elite group of chimpanzees to be the first Americans in space.

Taking a cue from The Right Stuff, we follow chimp-astronaut Ham and his trainer as they compete for banana pellets, train for the dangerous big launch and form a close bond. Winner of the 2006 Xeric award for independently published comics, First in Space is an entertaining adventure for all ages.

Grade: A-

First in Space is currently available.