Friday, November 11, 2022

Who Is the Man in the Air?: Michael Jordan

Soria, Gabe and Williams, Brittany (illustrator)
Who is the Man in the Air?: Michael Jordan
November 1st 2022 by Penguin Workshop
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This graphic novel captures a small snapshot in time; the 1997 NBA Finals basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls, often known as "The Flu Game". Jordan was a very important member of the team, and when he became ill in the middle of the night, the team management and other players panicked. How could they win with their key player not up to snuff? Despite feeling nauseated, Jordan went on to play a very competitive game, leading to his team's narrow win. There is some back story about Jordan's career up to this point, and other notables of the time, like Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, are briefly introduced and discussed. There's a nice timeline of Jordan's lifeup until his retirement in 2003, as well as a selected bibliography.
Strengths: I was not at all familiar with this event, since I haven't seen a basketball game in over forty years, so I looked up news clips of this. Williams' does a nice job of capturing the look of the time, and the color palette also represents actual events; Jordan's suit as he enters the building before the game is spot on. There's a lot of information about the teams, the players, and the way that the ball game progressed. Jordan is a perennial favorite, and has enjoyed a renewed interest after the Netflix documentary about him, The Last Dance
Weaknesses: Part of me would like a bit more of an afterword about Jordan's activities since 2003, but as a snapshot in time that won't date, this works well.
What I really think: Given the lack of sports graphic novels, I"ll definitely be purchasing a copy. I have Who Was the Voice of the People: Cesar Chavez, but this will much more popular, as sports books tend to be. I'd love to see Soria and Williams team up on some other historical sports nonfiction or even a fictional story involving sports. Given the popularity of graphic novels, perhaps we should have an overview of the 1929 Stock Market Crash or other somewhat less enticing historical topics, so that students will read the book and learn! 

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