Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Comic Review: Alex + Ada Vol. 1 by Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna

BASIC FACTS

Writers: Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Artwork: Jonathan Luna
Published by Image Comics on 29th July 2014
ISBN: 9781607069454
Pages: 128
Genre: sci-fi, drama
This trade paperback collects issues #1-5.

SYNOPSIS

Set in a near future wherein robots are a regular part of society, this sci-fi drama follows a human named Alexander, who is averse to the notion of androids serving as ersatz human company. But that changes when he inadvertently gets in the possession of the android Ada and slowly begins to realise that she is more to him than just a machine. And he won’t be content with her inability to form her own opinions and make her own decisions.

ARTWORK

The paper is of  a nice quality and slightly glossy. The pages are black and the artwork is colourised solely in warm earth tones. In my opinion, the artwork is decent, but nothing special. It is quite simple; not in a sketchy way, but rather to the effect that it is reduced to the basics, has few shades of colour and doesn’t focus on details.


I personally prefer detailed artwork that features more distinct character appearances and plays with the shape and arrangement of the panels, thus I felt like a certain something was missing. I wish the art was a tad more edgy and less polished, but, as you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Everything is very neat and there are no overlapping panels. Often, the same image is used repeatedly or only with slight variations and changing text – which is a pretty clever way of telling a story and something I generally haven’t seen much of yet. Even though the black background serves as a contrast to the light-toned artwork, I think I would’ve liked white margins more.

MY OPINION

The main character, Alexander, is a 27-year-old single man who has spent the last seven months mourning after his ex-girlfriend. He is more of an introvert, and his circle of friends consists only of couples (ugh, how annoying!). Alex is an ordinary, nice guy, so seeing this future world through his eyes makes the story more believable. In contrast, he has a crazy grandmother who is oddly explicit about her sexual life and owns a handsome young android who (or should I say that?) attends to her every need – creepy alert! :P

So far, the most alluring aspect of this comic series, for me, has to be the advanced technology of the world. There is an electronic device (/chip?) by the name of “Prime Wave” that can be implated into people’s heads. It enables them to communicate with others and operate machines telepathically. Moreover, there’s flying robots that can bring you coffee, holographic TV, and something even better that I’m not going to tell you about. Pretty cool!

Surely, the basic story has been there before; for instance, there is the so-called “A. I. Restrictions Act” which closely resembles Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. And there’s also the constant fear of artificial intelligence becoming self-aware and turning against humans. But the fact that it’s been done before does not mean that it’s not an interesting topic – especially in comic format.

I found the story to be entertaining, but not spellbinding. The first two issues were a slow introduction with sparse plot. Issue #3 picks up pace when readers are introduced to a group of citizens who support robot rights. I could go into more detail on that, but there’s only so much you can say on a comic of this length without giving it all away. The later issues have some subtle homour in them and play a bit with the concept of what it means to be human. I hope the writers elaborate on that in the future.
Now that the introduction is sweeped out of the way, I expect it to get a lot more exciting as the story progresses and conflicts arise. Despite the slow pace, my interest is piqued enough to pick up the next volume as soon as it comes out!

CONCLUSION

Solely based on the story, I would’ve given Alex + Ada 4 book owls, but taking into account that I wasn’t a big fan of the artwork, I lowered my rating by .5. To be honest, I’m still debating with myself if it deserves 4 ...
If you’re interested in sci-fi, robots and futuristic technology, I’d definitely recommend you to check it out. But I’d probably advise you to wait until a few more issues have been released, as I think this is one of the comics that are more fun when reading a bunch of issues back-to-back.

UPDATE: The artwork grew on me, and comparing it to other comics with a 3.5 rating, this one just deserves better. Seeing as this series has a lot of potential and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next volume, I bumped the rating up to 4 book owls!

RATING

NOT SURE WHETHER YOU MIGHT ENJOY IT?

Image Comics is currently offering the digital edition of issue #1 for free. That way you can get a feel for the artwork, the general tone of the story and its characters. They also have the first issue of various other available free of charge, so it’s worth having a look at their website.
You need to register in order to be able to download it, however, the sign-up process is fairly quick.

4 comments:

  1. I thought this was a very good detailed review. I must admit that the art sounds ordinary indeed though I do enjoy reading comics/graphic novels so will probably pick it up if I get the chance. By the way, I love your rating owls :D

    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

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    1. Thank you! I guess I’m a bit of a cliché owl-loving bookworm, so I just needed my rating system to reflect that. :P

      Indeed, the art itself is not too special, but the artist does make use of an intriguing storytelling device by using several images with only minor changes in characters’ mimics and postures, which is kind of unique, and succeeds to mirror the awkwardness in some of the scenes.
      It’s definitely more of a slower, thoughtful comic series, but I think it’s worth checking out! If you decide to pick it up, let me know what you think about it! :P

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  2. The sci-fi elements sound interesting, although a bit cliché. Artwork can really make or break a visual novel sometimes. I have mostly read manga's which are usually in black and white, so I was surprised this one is in colour. I might have to check out the first issue to see if it's soemthing I like. Great review!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, two Lolas in a row! ;P
      I’ve never read a manga! Which is probably because I need everything to be colourful and vibrant. And I don’t really know if there are any interesting ones out there. You don’t happen to have a recommendation, something everyone should read? ;-)

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