The classic “Hero’s Journey” is probably one of the most common and cliche methods of storytelling in media. It’s everywhere, and pretty hard to avoid, as the foreword for Adora and the Distance demonstrates. From Star Wars to Back to the Future, the majority of tales out there feature the classic story of a (usually white male) protagonist going on an impossible journey in order to stop the forces of evil from ruining his life as he knows it.
It’s not a bad cliche, mind you. It’s just a basic diagram that most forms of epic entertainment tend to follow. The foreword for Adora and the Distance, however, makes the case that this new Journey, written by Marc Bernardin and illustrated by Ariela Kristantina, is not your average story.
“We’ll see about that,” were the last words I said with dry eyes and a straight face.
Not only is Adora and the Distance a welcome revision to the classic template, it’s an inclusive one. With an intriguing story and beautiful art that brings Bernardin and Kristantina’s world to life and cements them as a duo to keep your eyes on.
Young Adora is plagued by nightmares that feel all too real. Learning that these dreams she’s having foretell a dark fate for her and her kingdom, she leaves with a group of soldiers and her closest companion to face her destiny once and for all.
At first glance, Adora’s story sounds typical. Intriguing but familiar, and it’s meant to feel that way. But the changes come as soon as the story starts. We’re introduced to a beautiful blend of cultures from around the world, characters of all different shapes and sizes, and a main character that isn’t the kind we’ve come to expect from this genre.
Adora and the Distance feels like something you’d see from Tolkien or Martin, a true hero’s epic with action, fantasy, and adventure. But thankfully, it doesn’t stick to the norm for very long. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Frodo and Jon Snow, but it’s refreshing to read a fantasy that tributes the stories that came before it while simultaneously paving its own path forward.
With Adora and the Distance, Marc Bernardin and Ariela Kristantina strive to create a fantasy story that better reflects the world we live in, the realities we face now, and they nail it with flying colors. Adora is a wonderful protagonist for the reader to relate to, as even she is pretty new to the world she lives in. A world that Kristantina brings to life with vibrant colors and animated locations that complement Bernardin’s natural and personal writing style.
To say this feels like the “next” Lord of the Rings is selling Adora a little short. While it is influenced by fantasy’s past, there’s enough new and unique here to recognize Adora and the Distance as its own thing; a fresh take on a timeless story that’s sure to inspire its own generation of storytellers.
The story culminates in a powerful ending that, while lasting only a few panels, is so important and shocking that I can’t really talk about it without spoiling it. All I can say is that with it, Adora and the Distance is transformed into more than a modern fantasy trendsetter, but a poignant and deeply personal story that writer Marc Bernardin shares with grace.
Adora and the Distance is now available to read digitally on ComiXology. Making it the perfect gift for Father’s Day if you’re looking for the next big epic to share with your family!