To be honest, there are not enough comics and graphic novels about civil engineering for my liking. So many comics and books and films are created about how things fall down (mostly because Thanos or a giant wolf or Godzilla are in town), yet there is just as much drama in the putting them up in the first place.

One of the pleasures of Peter J Tomasi and Sara Duvall’s new graphic novel The Bridge, then, is the way it provides an accessible account of the technical challenges facing the 19th-century architects and engineers of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge (including how they went to the toilet while working on the riverbed).

It’s also a reminder of just how dangerous such huge construction projects could be. Tomasi and Duvall record fires in the caissons (the hollow, waterproof boxes filled with compressed air that were built to allow workers into the river’s bedrock) and the sometimes deadly dangers of contracting the bends (or “caisson disease” as it was known). And all for two dollars a day if you were one of the bridge’s labourers.

But at heart The Bridge is a family drama. It traces the story of the Brooklyn Bridge through two generations of the family who built it.

The bridge’s designer John Augustus Roebling dies in 1869, leaving his son Washington, then 32 and a veteran of the American civil war, in charge of the project. In his hands-on efforts to get the bridge built, Washington himself contracted the bends which meant his wife Emily had to step up and become her husband’s ears and eyes on the site.

The Roeblings were also dealing with a hostile press, Tammany Hall corruption and, in Emily’s case, scandalised male egos. All of which makes their achievements all the greater.

This book is something of a pet project for its author Tomasi, who has been a long-time writer and editor for DC Comics (and is one of the contributors to Action 1000, which came out last week, celebrating the 80th anniversary of Superman). He has teamed up here with artist Sarah DuVall whose clean-lined style has something of the architectural drawing about it (and a hint of Disney animation).

The result is an entertaining and readable graphic novel that lauds construction not destruction. And that, Tomasi suggests in his introduction, is something we need more of right now.

“Not only do Americans need to be reminded what was accomplished in the past,” he writes, “but we need to see how that knowledge can build toward a better future.”

The Bridge, by Peter J Tomasi and Sara DuVall is published by Abrams Comic Arts