From the great Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn comes Lars and the Real Girl 3000 – a deliberate, atmospheric sci-fi story that favors taking plenty of time to set its pace over jumping too far forward into any sort of plot.
(Kudos to Matthew Meylikhov for the joke)
Written by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
Illustrated by Jonathan Luna
From JONATHAN LUNA (GIRLS, THE SWORD, Spider-Woman, ULTRA) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her?
This will be JONATHAN LUNA’s return to comics after three years off since the end of THE SWORD!
Alex is your typical depressed 20-something in the wake of a bad breakup. I’ve been there. You’ve probably been there – or at least experienced something similar. We’ve all experienced those things that make you want to hide in your apartment, eating takeout and watching bad action movies, just so that you don’t have to talk to anyone or feign the notion that you’re doing fine. That’s Alex. He moves listlessly through a world where, fortunately, listlessness is all you need to get through your day apparently. The machines do everything for you and all it takes is a minor thought. You don’t even have to face the sound of your own voice.
But the marvels of technology don’t make up for the fact that a routine is still a routine. Just because you have a robot that brings you your coffee doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have rather had the person that you thought was the love of your life bring you that coffee. Alex may live in the world of tomorrow, but he still has to go to a job that he doesn’t seem that jazzed about. To steal a phrase from Louis C.K., “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” But in “Alex + Ada”, it’s not because all this great technology only works 70% of the time. It’s because it can’t give you the thing you really need. All of this stuff is really great, but it doesn’t make up for Alex feeling lonely and dejected.
Alex tries though. He tries to make it through his day with his head up just enough so his co-workers don’t suspect how crushed he still feels. He goes to a party thrown for him, but he’s still everyone’s 3rd wheel. Even his grandmother, who seems to have the most genuine and open relationship with him, can’t entirely understand what Alex is thinking. Like everyone else in Alex’s life, she thinks she knows what he needs better than he does. And maybe she’ll turn out to be right by the end, but I suppose that’s what “Alex + Ada” will eventually tell us.
For now, it has to be stressed how deliberately-paced this issue is, and it’s because in order to truly understand what Alex is feeling right now, we need to see life as he is experiencing it. Luna & Vaughn send Alex drifting through big, spare panels of minimalist futuristic interior design. There’s no clutter, because in the future you won’t need clutter. Alex feels empty and so his world feels empty. The few lively settings in “Alex + Ada” #1 come about when true human interaction is occurring. Everything else is a sterile, monochromatic facade. An Apple-esque design sense for a hands-free world, and Alex is lost in it. These creators take a risk by doubling down on this listless tone, but it is the very thing that connects us to Alex. In this way, “Alex + Ada” is beautiful in its simplicity.
Luna’s art quietly dominates and directs our feelings toward Alex and the world that he lives in. The slow pacing occurs in the visuals and the economy of the script, which is clear from the very opening page. Alex lies in bed, slowly waking up to a computerized voice. Everything is done slowly. Everything is mechanical (again, until his first real interactions with his human colleagues). Alex’s apartment is visually sterile in an appropriately thematic way. He has no one to help him fill his environment with color. The expressions are as subtle as the environments. Luna captures the disaffected demeanor of a person with depression and the facade that that person has to put on from time to time. Alex’s most genuine reaction occurs at the party thrown for him – another key artistic choice in a book that is intentionally low key.Continued below
“Alex + Ada” doesn’t enthusiastically endear itself to you right from the get-go, but it does welcome you in to the world of a man who has experienced emotional pain. Luna & Vaughn beautifully contrast this universally honest emotional state of being with a fantastical, yet sterile world of tomorrow. Just like Alex’s marvelously advanced world does, “Alex + Ada” captures your eye with its simple beauty, then grabs your heart with the sometimes frighteningly identifiable pain of its protagonist.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy