Monday, March 20, 2017

Alex + Ada

This month, to celebrate Image Comics' 25th Anniversary, Comixology Unlimited is offering a few complete series to read. I chose this one Alex + Ada, because I loved some of Jonathan Luna's past works, especially his collaborations with his brother Joshua The Sword and Ultra. Here, he collaborates with writer Sarah Vaughn on a series that ran for 15 issues, collected into three trade paperbacks that are all available to read on CU.

The story focuses on Alex, a lonely guy in his 20s who is still struggling with the fallout from his failed engagement. One year for his birthday, his grandmother, who is a free-wheeling, liberated, and funny woman, buys him a robot companion to get him out of his funk. He names her Ada, and she will obey any and all of his wishes.
This leads to some awkward scenes as Alex tries to acclimate to this new relationship and also not take advantage of the situation. He's lonely, but he's also not good with using something that looks human as a surrogate for a relationship. Eventually, he stumbles upon an underground community that would permit him to allow Ada to think and act for herself. When she is "unlocked," a whole bunch of revelations and complications ensue.
Much of what follows comments on what makes up romantic relationships, defines people as human, and explores the dynamics of people dealing with new technologies. There is also a lot of intrigue, as an anti-robot backlash develops, giving this series a political dimension that I could not help but notice echoed some of those we are dealing with right now. I know that the trope of using a robot to explore what constitutes humanity is pretty common, but I very much enjoyed how it played out in the scope of all these books. Much of that was because I liked that the characters were well thought-out and interesting. That said, there is also a fair amount of action and suspense, particularly in the second half of the series. I also very much enjoyed the simple, clean art style used to tell this tale.

Like I noted above, artist Jonathan Luna has drawn a number of other comic book series. Writer Sarah Vaughn has worked on the webcomic Sparkshooter and the series Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love for DC Comics. She speaks a lot more about her career in this interview. Both creators are set to collaborate on the forthcoming series Eternal Empire, and they speak about their work on Alex + Ada in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about this book have praised the story, and some have been more critical of the artwork. Pharaoh Miles commented that the story "more than invades the senses, it lives with the reader." Brandon Perdue wrote, "For the classic sci-fi fan, those who seek thoughtful futurism over whiz-bang action, Alex + Ada is easy to recommend."

Alex + Ada was published by Image Comics, and they have previews and much more info about it here. There are some adult situations in the book, but I think it is appropriate for older adolescents.

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