5.0

Alex + Ada #1 by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn

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<i>Alex + Ada</i> #1 by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn

Writers: Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
Art: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 6, 2013

Alex spends his life staring at screens. When he wakes up, when he’s driving to work, when he’s at his desk, all he does is stare at a screen. That’s not too far off from reality, of course — I’m staring at one right now. I read Alex + Ada on the same computer monitor. This is what we do now.

Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn extrapolate on a very current fact of modern day life with Alex + Ada. Their observations about technology are not particularly profound, though. Soullessness via technology is a common topic stretching back decades. The #1 album in America this week is about staring at a screen, which pointedly happens in about half of this comic’s panels. Ada, the robot companion given to Alex by his grandmother, is a direct descendent of the Build a Friends from Jack Kirby’s OMAC, only without Kirby’s unforgettably profane design. It’s only a first issue, so there’s room for the story to develop some depth, but the first issue doesn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said with more insight countless times.

Luna’s art is intentionally bland, perfectly tailored for this sedated world. It makes conceptual sense but it also means these twenty plus pages are filled with drab, flat artwork. Between that lifeless art and Luna’s propensity to make characters look younger than they are, I feel like I’m reading a web-comic about baristas. I’m surprised nobody’s wearing a Death Cab shirt.

Ada (or at least the robot I assume is Ada) is barely introduced in this issue, and other than Alex’s disgust with his grandmother’s sex-bot (and our own understandable revulsion to physical intimacy with machines), Luna and Vaughn don’t tip their hands as to what we should expect from Ada or how we should react to her. These 22 pages might make a fine first chapter to a book-length collection. Right now, though, the story and art are too inert to stand on their own.

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