In the far future of Cosmic Cadets: Contact!, humanity has “gone to the stars” and is exploring the galaxy. Leading the charge is Captain Dahmani and the crew of the ESS Khonsu, which includes her son Jimmil, who struggles to live up to his mother’s high expectations. Along with his friend Felix and fellow cadets Nishika and Teiran, Jimmil instigates an unsanctioned field trip to a strange alien world where they make first contact with its strange inhabitants and ultimately find themselves as the aliens only hope against a full-scale war!

In their debut graphic novel, writer Ben Crane and artist Mimi Alves deliver a fun and colorful tale about the magic of friendship, even in the harsh reaches of space. Along with major themes of communication and overcoming one’s fears, Crane manages to weave a number of important life lessons into the narrative without it ever seeming heavy-handed. Jimmil’s relationship with his mother is strained but serves as the catalyst for the enigmatic young cadet and his diverse group of friends discovering who they are and what kind of people they want to be. Their individual personalities and anxieties are incredibly relatable, making their experiences all the more enjoyable.

Alves has a dynamic, cartoony style that is perfect for this type of story. The aliens have very unique designs, with rounded features and spindly appendages that give them an almost plant-like appearance. They’re as much fun to look at as I would imagine they were to draw! The main cast is appropriately depicted as youthful and energetic, albeit in a stylized way, although a few of the adults are harder to distinguish from one another. There are also a few instances, mostly in one-page spreads, where the action isn’t as clear, making it hard to decipher what is actually happening. Fortunately, these scenes are few and far between and the art only gets better as the story progresses. Colorist Priscilla Tramontano brings a rich tapestry of color to Alves’ inks, and helps bring the story to bright and vivid life.

Cosmic Cadets: Contact is intended for middle-grade readers and may be a bit violent or scary for younger readers. Consequently, the book isn’t really geared toward adults, however parents will certainly have something fun and worthwhile to share with their kids. Overall, Crane and Alves have merged their different storytelling techniques to craft a story that will resonate with readers of all ages and will leave new fans clamoring for the next installment.

Cosmic Cadets: Contact!






Life Lessons




The Feels



  • Writer: Ben Crane
  • Illustrator: Mimi Alvie’s
  • Colorist: Priscilla Tramontano
  • Editor-in-Chief: Chris Staros
  • Designer: Nathan Widick

Credits (cont)

  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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