REVIEW: ‘Adora and The Distance’ Brings a Magical Journey, With a Few Stumbles

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Adora and The Distance

Adora and The Distance is a fantasy graphic novel published by Dark Horse Comics through the Dark Horse Books division, written by Marc Bernardin with art by Ariela Kristantina, colors by Bryan Valenza, and letters and design by Bernando Brice. Adora is a young girl who was found by Lord Rafael when she was very young. With no parents or home, the kind lord took her in and raised her as his own. But then the dreams came. They portended the coming of The Distance. A terrible being that would stop at nothing to take her. Rather than see the beautiful port city she lives in destroyed, Adora and a handful of companions set out to confront The Distance.

There are some elements of great storytelling that stand out to us—incredible characters, interesting plot lines, and attention-grabbing suspense are all critical components. However, there are smaller, more subtle parts of stories that, while often overlooked, are just as key to building a fantastic narrative structure. Sadly, Adora and The Distance stumbles in these more technical aspects.

Adora’s grand journey to face her opponent brings with it some wonderful moments of charm and a beautiful surprise ending that makes you stop and wonder about things you may have never considered before. However, where the story goes awry is in how it binds these moments together.

When telling stories in the comics medium, it is necessary to leave some of the action out. No book can show every footstep, leap, or punch that gets the characters from one point in a scene to the next. Choices are made about what to keep and omit, so the reader never feels lost within the moment. The management of this aspect of comic storytelling is where Adora and The Distance fails. And unfortunately, it does it far too frequently.

This lack of cohesion on the part of the book’s narrative left me often feeling confused. I repeatedly went back pages to ensure I hadn’t missed a critical panel or page. When I found I hadn’t, I was left with nothing else to do but accept it and move on.

This unintentional jarring is compounded by how much ground the story covers. With only roughly 130 pages to tell Adora’s grand journey, the book does a lot of location hoping. From one fantasy location to another, I rarely knew where the story had moved to or how much time had passed. The book gives no captions when a new destination is reached or even an “X days later” informer to tell you how long it took to arrive.

I feel bad about nitpicking these sorts of details in a story like Adora and The Distance. The story’s focus is not on such a rigid structure, and the ending’s surprise could even explain why the story jars the reader so. Nevertheless, it creates a hurdle that dramatically hampers the ease and enjoyment I had in reading the book.

While the narrative falters a bit, the story does a beautiful job of creating an endearing lead character in Adora. Kind, intelligent, and determined, the young girl easily carries the bulk of the story on her tiny shoulders. I cannot imagine not being able to root for this girl, and I hope that wherever she ends up after the story’s conclusion, it brings her all the wonder and joy she deserves.

Another place where Adora and The Distance never falters is in the art. Kristantina’s lines bring a gorgeous amount of expression and emotion to the fantasy world the story inhabits. Every character and place the story visits are designed to feel unique. Coupled with some equally gorgeous color work by Valenza, you have a world that feels brimming with energy and life.

Wrapping up our look at the book’s visuals is the lettering. The lettering succeeds at providing a clear path for the reader to follow through the story. I also appreciated the design of the narration boxes. Given the look of torn paper, the narration’s design works wonderfully with the story’s setting.

When all is said and done, Adora and The Distance delivers some charm and a lot of heart, even if the story sometimes leaves the reader confused from moment to moment. While the structural weakness certainly hurts the book’s narrative, there is still a fair amount to love in this magical journey.

Adora and The Distance is available now.


Adora and The Distance
3.5

TL;DR

Adora and The Distance delivers some charm and a lot of heart, even if the story sometimes leaves the reader confused from moment to moment. While the structural weakness certainly hurts the book’s narrative, there is still a fair amount to love in this magical journey.