Alex + Ada #1

by Tori B. on November 06, 2013

The future of androids (not the smartphones) and living like the Jetsons is something we all think about. For Alex, it’s a way of life, although his life is about to get much more focused on one particular android.
Writers: Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
Artist: Jonathan Luna
Cover: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image
There’s something incredibly simple behind the storytelling of Alex + Ada that builds towards the story in a beautiful way. Robots, androids, super computers, all this remarkable technology that we as children could only imagine about, and is glorified in common media because the technology, while seemingly close, still feels far (no one’s getting their very own JARVIS this year for Christmas), and yet in this world that Luna and Vaughn have created, not a single person bats an eye. Technology is so far advanced for these characters that Alex, our protagonist, has it working with his brain. He doesn’t even need to speak for his lights to turn on or off, just think it. Yet, for someone who’s working so fluidly with computers, he’s rather hesitant about people and their relationships with AIs. It’s not so much the fact that artificial intelligence exists as a norm for everyday life that makes him uncomfortable, but more so the idea of what type of relationship can be built.
Nothing is remarkable about the storytelling, there’s no serious action, the robots aren’t killing machines, most panels are just a slight variation from one another, all focused on the same character and that’s not a bad thing. It encapsulates Alex’s humdrum life and how dull it is, the slow, groggy transition to wakefulness in the morning before heading to work, the desensitized processing of the news over breakfast alone, work isn’t any more exciting and in fact talking to other people only serves to remind him of his gloomy predisposition. We take the whole issue just to walk through a day in Alex’s life. He’s not totally alone, he has friends and family who care for him, but a lot is said in the art, that he’s truly not happy. It’s all so very subtle, in the art and the dialogue, but it’s all incredibly telling.
By the time we reach the end the mood shifts completely. This android, a Tanaka X5 (Ada), a companion model, changes everything from the moment she opens her eyes to her first spoken word. There’s a palpable shift in the tension, even though we can’t see Alex’s face for his reaction, a lot is said in his pose, which strikes as different from how he’s held himself prior throughout the issue—which makes sense considering his views on companion AIs. On a personal note, the striking shade of blue of Ada’s eyes is incredible and perfectly chosen, it’s piercing enough to not seem completely human, but soft enough to not alarm.
I have a well of praise for the art, and the facial expressions especially, but one must appreciate the delicate storytelling as well. Despite robots and advanced technology being second nature to all these characters, the underlying essence of what drives them so far is so incredibly human.

Our Score:


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