Pullbox Reviews AL15: The Adventure Begins- ‘Through the Looking Glass’, in space!

Moon farming communities supply food to the neighboring planet.

Everyone knows their place in life.

Everyone except AL15.

AL15 is a 15th generation young Cropper from the moon and wants at least one adventure in her lifetime.

She never expected on this epic!

One girl’s fight for survival, while attempting to return home and rewrite her own history, in this fast-paced hybrid graphic novel.

In all of the books that have come to be considered classics, there aren’t going to be too many that are as re-imagined or paid homage to as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The concept of the ordinary person being thrown into an extraordinary world is always ripe for exploration, just by its nature. In the case of Andromeda Lewis- aka “AL15”- the idea of “ordinary” leaves the Victorian era behind and is pushed forward into a bizarre sci fi environment.

Steve De La Mare makes sure that the important elements are in place for his first published graphic novel (with planned sequel & prequel in the works), due for release on June 08, 2021. As AL15 is thrown into her new surroundings (okay, sure, she crashes the spaceship that she stole… borrowed… whatever), she experiences one misadventure after another and meets strange and interesting allies as she goes. My personal favorite is an ancient astronaut dangling from the ceiling by a mass of vines, and perfectly happy to be so even in the face of AL15’s attempts to “rescue” him. There’s also the glowy moth thing, the strange cat-like creature, and the fierce but helpful lizard tiger. Through it all, AL15’s dialogue holds up practically side by side with Alice’s, taking in all of these wonderful new things with a sense of amazement and curiosity toward what might come next. Through all of the chaos that surrounds AL15, she’s all “hmm, that’s peculiar” and “goodness, did I do that?”. That attitude is ingrained into the book from beginning to end, and it’s perfect by way of comparison to Carroll’s original work.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what you should be looking for in your graphic novels, however I am going to say that if I were a betting man, De La Mare’s illustrations are what should be getting all of the attention. “Gorgeous” & “stunning” aren’t generally words that make their way into my daily vocabulary, reserved as they are for really outstanding circumstances, but they’re the adjectives that I keep coming back to when I look at this book. De La Mare’s designs are fantastical & imaginative, from the creatures to their environments, and his titular character AL15 is… well, she’s gorgeous in all of her wide, blue-eyed innocence and courage. It’s the artwork that’s the lynchpin here, tying the story elements of this book together from the standard sequential art of the panels to the pages of illustrated text that give background information on what’s happening.

Older, more jaded readers might not have as much fun with this one, unless you’re looking to reconnect with that sense of childish whimsy you’ve been missing. While I would generally have no problem recommending this for readers 13 & up, I have to point out that there’s a bit of violence, some minor bloodshed in the form of scrapes & cuts, and maybe a little more skin than some would be comfortable with (not quite “nudity” and fully in context with what’s happening in the story).

Take it all with a grain of salt, because this is a uniquely enjoyable book, with some outstanding illustrations. It’s an excellent tale, told visually and with much for the eyes to take in.

Final Score: 10/13

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