ALEX + ADA #1/ Story and Script by JONATHAN LUNA & SARAH VAUGHN/ Art by JONATHAN LUNA/ Letters by JONATHAN LUNA/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
It is the not too distant future and mankind lives in a new Golden Age of technological advancement. Early adapters with the latest implants can now mentally control all the technology around them. You can even telepathically “talk” to those who also have the same implants through the electronic ether. And in the realization of a dream that has obsessed humanity since the days of the Ancient Greeks, realistic android lovers are now a reality!
This latest marvel holds little interest for Alex. Despite feeling lonely after a bad break-up, Alex is still turned off by the idea of sex with a robot despite his grandmother’s assurances that her Tanaka X5 is the best lover she’s ever had. So when Alex returns home from his 27th birthday party to find a large box containing a life-like replica of a gorgeous brunette set up in his living room, he’s more than a little bit flabbergasted.
Alex + Ada signals Jonathan Luna’s return to monthly comics after a three-year hiatus. Those familiar with Luna’s previous work on the “Sex In The City with super-heroines” series Ultra and the sci-fi/horror epic Girls will be relieved to know that time has not taken the edge off of his artistic chops. Indeed, his command of fine detail seems to have improved over the past few years without having sacrificed any of his distinctive simplicity. This is a gorgeous book and fans of Luna’s artwork will enjoy it immensely.
Luna’s only real failing as an artist is a difficulty in matching the eyes of his characters to the rest of their faces. Alex appears to be impersonating Garfield the Cat for most of the issue, his eyes eternally half-closed. He even appears sleepy and/or stoned when he’s meant to be excited about his surprise birthday party, his mouth wide open in a gasp of delight while his eyelids remain at half-mast.
In terms of character, Alex himself is something of a cypher. Most of this first issue is devoted towards establishing the world of the book and the advancements made by technology. As a result, we learn little of Alex as a person in this first chapter. We don’t even know what Alex does for a living, save that he works in some kind of office building.
A larger problem is the story itself, which proves unable to work past its uninspired premise. The basic theme of a man finding love with an artificial being is one of the oldest tropes in literature, going all the way back to Pygmalion. It’s a particularly common theme in science-fiction and comics, with series like Chobits and Star Trek having explored the issue ad nauseam. Futurama even had a whole episode making fun of the concept!
Alex + Ada has nothing new to add to this formula. Similar complaints can be made about a subplot regarding humanity’s fears of their robot slaves achieving sentience and rebelling against their human masters. That old chestnut has been explored before and explored better in works such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Terminator.
In the end, Alex + Ada will appeal to Jonathan Luna enthusiasts and almost no one else. The artwork is largely excellent, yet Luna’s human characters seem as cool and lifeless as his androids. The unoriginal story will inspire no one to pick up the second issue of this series, though it may inspire them to reread the classic science-fiction stories and comics that explored the exact same themes before.