Stealing a rocket ship and flying it to the moon. Fighting Nazi robots. Learning the secrets that will advance humanity.

These are just some of the adventures of Space Joe in the 89 page graphic novel ‘Space Joe: Ad Astra.’ A collaborative graphic novel by rock band Ultimate Power Duo, the story follows the protagonist from his early stages of life—when he first gets a taste for space—to the completion of his destiny.

The setting for ‘Space Joe: Ad Astra’ is that of a distant future, where an organization called the United Global Galactic Pact, or U.G.G.P, is founded in space (like a mirror version of the United Nations) to better research the mysteries of the universe.

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Joe is a loner protagonist, considered an “Army brat,” who has always felt a calling to the stars. After spending time questioning whether going to space is really what he wants, Joe makes the decision to join the International Space Research Project (I.S.R.P). This is when his real adventures begin—after stealing a rocket ship, Joe lands on the moon, where he is welcomed by members of the U.G.G.P and is trained to become one of their citizens.

As is predictable of most stories that follow the narrative of an epic, our hero experiences both highs and lows during his time in space: he is drafted for a war, where at first he is victorious; then captured, and must make an escape; experiences both a brief romance and a brief moment of doubt; and finally is able to make his journey home, although not before finding out his true calling.

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‘Space Joe: Ad Astra’ features collaborative art from 12 artists. Each style is distinctive, and each artist is given about a chapter or two (three to five pages) to illustrate. The artwork matches the tone of each chapter—whether it be moody inks and limited colors or bright, quick scenes—and the majority of it is beautiful.

What makes this graphic novel truly unique, however, is that it has its own soundtrack. The band Ultimate Power Duo, recorded a 20 song concept album, which is about a man’s adventures in space, and then created a graphic novel to go along with said album. Each chapter, then, is in part inspired by the song—which becomes the driving narrative of the novel. Some chapters even use direct lyrics as their text.

As standalone products, both the album and the graphic novel are great, strong material. Together, it is meant to fully immerse yourself in the story of Space Joe. Listening to the album while reading the graphic novel forces you to slow down and really take your time to appreciate each chapter, as each one is paired with a song. However, I found this reading-listening experience distracting. Was I listening to the right song? Can I continue to the next chapter?

Overall, Space Joe: Ad Astra is a quality graphic novel with a familiar epic narrative. It is entertaining, breezy and philosophical, which makes it worth a read and listen.

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