“Try Something New.” That challenge is the whole reason for this feature’s existence. Month in and month out we buy the comics we know and love, the ones we look forward to every time but there are countless series that travel under our radar, ones that we just don’t give a chance and get passed by. That’s why I made a vow: every week I’d pick up an issue for a series that wasn’t on my pull-list in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Welcome to Off The Shelf where we’ll discover if my leap of faith paid dividends this week. Also, I should mention that there be SPOILERS in this review. You are warned!
Alex + Ada #1Publisher
Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Prior Experience With Title
None, though I’m pretty much in the same boat as everyone else considering this is a brand new property. Truth be told, I’ve never picked up anything from the two creative team members involved either.
Why Did I Give It A Shot?
I loved the concept. The issue takes place in the future when technology has completely enveloped our day-to-day activities but what I really found intriguing about this 12 issue maxi-series is the exploration of the relationship between the two main leads, one human and one android, and how the series will represent the world they live in though both their perspectives. Having that absolutely gorgeous cover helped as well and it was the first image I ever saw of this series online, an image that grabbed my attention and lingered in the back of my mind until I saw it sitting on the shelf.
The issue begins with Alex waking up in bed and we quickly realize that this is not taking place in the present but rather in a far more technologically advanced future. He goes about his daily routine commanding the toilet, the shower, his closet, and even his toothbrush by his mind. While enjoying breakfast, a vid-screen mentions that this is the one year anniversary of the Nexaware massacre when numerous artificial intelligences became self-aware and killed 34 people, an important plot point if I ever saw one and one that will play into future issues I take it. After the disaster, Nexaware ceased operations and a new company called Prime Wave took over the vacant sector. Upon arriving at work in a car that drives itself, we come to the realization that Alex is extremely depressed after he and his girlfriend broke-up, a break-up that occurred seven months ago, and one that he still cannot move on from. He’s settled into a lonely routine, not going out, not meeting new people, basically going through the motions. The next day is Alex’s birthday and he receives a call from his wealthy grandmother. She has a robot/lover that runs on Prime Intelligence, something that Alex states is scary advanced though she retorts that he let Prime into his head after all. She casually mentions that Alex should get an android of his own but he responds that even if he had $800,000 to buy one it is just too weird. Later on, Alex goes over to his friend’s apartment to try out her latest cake recipe for her blog, completely caught off-guard when he is met with a surprise birthday party for himself. While there, Alex notices all the couples in attendance, a fact that makes him even sadder until Isabel shows up. She reveals that she broke up with her boyfriend after Alex and Claire broke up because it got her thinking about what she really wanted…which is more like who as it is so obvious it is Alex who is completely oblivious to the fact. After leaving the party early, Alex returns home to the sight of a giant box inside, a present from his grandmother even after he told her he didn’t want any presents. He opens it up and we get our first look at Ada, a female android. He activates her and she simply says “Hello” to conclude the issue.
Alex’s Grandmother: Are you sure I can’t get you a present? Not even a tie? It would actually be useful.
Alex: And that tie would probably cost more than my house. Besides, I’m too old for presents.
Alex’s Grandmother: Oh? How does it feel to be too old? I have no idea what that’s like.
Alex’s Grandmother: You might think about getting one.
Alex: Me? An android?
Alex’s Grandmother: Sure. You could always put her in the basement when you find someone.
Alex: Do you know how sick that sounds? It might as well be a dungeon.
Alex’s Grandmother: Kinky.
Jacob: I’ve been in the desert too…when you’re out of water…and the vultures are circling…and you just want to lie there and die and let those flesh-eating turkeys do their thing. But you’ve gotta keep walking, my friend. You’ve gotta keep walking. Eventually, one day, you’ll forget how beautiful she looked…how nice she was…how soft and warm she felt–
Alex: All right, buddy, I think you’ve had too much happy juice.
Final Verdict: The first issue was all about establishing the history and rules of this new series with our second main character not even making an appearance until the very end. Regardless, it left me intrigued and I felt a true connection with Alex. I can’t wait for the second issue to see release, an issue that by all indications should eclipse this one. Things are most definitely looking up so thusly, I’m going to Add It To My Pull-List.