Illustration for article titled Three children spin a fantasy epic in the webcomic emBy Moon Alone/em — but what if the story turns out to be true?

Melanie spends her days listening to her best friend Daniel spin wild stories about Sola and Lune, a pair of heroic beings fighting a strange and worlds-spanning war. But as she spends more and more time with Daniel and learns more about his characters, she begins to wonder: Why did Daniel start visiting her just when she needed a friend most? Are Sola and Lune characters designed to give her strength, or are they something more?


Honoel A. Ibardolaza's By Moon Alone opens on Sola, the daughter of the Brotherhood of the Sun, and Lune, the son of the Sisterhood of the Moon, battling an enormous monstrous creature. Sola is invulnerable, with the powers to fight the spirits with whom the Brotherhood and Sisterhood are at war. Lune is bonded to Sola, but is physically weaker; many of the spirits call him an impostor, and Lune doesn't disagree. He's not entirely sure how he can best serve the cause and protect the people he's meant to protect.

But after their initial battle, we learn that Sola and Lune are characters in play being written by a young boy named Daniel. Daniel spends every afternoon after school with Melanie, hoping that she'll enjoy his story. Mel loves spending time with Daniel, but she's also temperamental, often insulting or even striking Daniel in her childish way. But Daniel is endlessly patient and forgiving, and still comes to see Mel, bringing her fresh pages.


For a while, it seems like By Moon Alone will follow this pattern, telling two alternating stories that aren't quite strong enough to stand on their own, but somewhat more than the sum of their parts. But around page 50, we start to get a clearer picture of what this story is about. The tales of Sola and Lune and Daniel and Mel are more closely linked than Ibardolaza lets on, and although he's dropped a rather large clue to his readers, we don't quote know what the larger picture will reveal. And as he's pulled back the curtain a bit on Mel's life and that of her twin brother Michael, who is also caught up in the adventures of Sola and Lune. We finally understand why Melanie is in such desperate need of a friend.

By Moon Alone may end up being a story about the power of fiction, about the way that heroic characters can inspire us. But it sounds like the magical and the mundane might blend in Melanie's life, and she might find that she's far stronger than she ever expected.

[By Moon Alone]

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