Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn bring a bold new series to Image with the debut of “Alex + Ada” #1, the story of a lonely young man whose life is about to drastically change.
One of the best things about “Alex + Ada” is how effortless Luna and Vaughn are with their world building. There are no drawn out sections full of exposition describing Alex’s world. Instead, readers are shown everything in an incredibly natural way. Luna and Vaughn rely on genre conventions (but not in a bad way) and trust their readers to understand the technology and state of Alex’s world just through following Alex about his day. It’s completely refreshing as a reader to have that trust, and Luna and Vaughn don’t ever abuse it. They are extremely clear in their storytelling, careful with their details, and precise in what they relay. “Alex + Ada” is well-considered and smart from the first page to the last.
The visuals by Luna are a mixed bag in that they have a cleanliness of line that works to their advantage for the world building, but that also sometimes feels too stiff and antiseptic. Tonally, the art is a great choice for this particular story, as Luna is exceptional at creating still scenes that move slowly and deliberately, that focus on tiny moments and seemingly insignificant details to tell their story. Luna’s spare style even works to his advantage in that the world of “Alex + Ada” feels deliberately sterile and soulless, but I was aching a bit for something to feel organic, or outside the box. It’s technically excellent work, but it doesn’t feel like it’s taking any chances, and I found myself wishing that it would.
The pacing in this book is exceptional — there’s a slowness that just seeps off the page, really emphasizing Alex’s loneliness, his boredom, the sheer mundanity of his life, as he goes through the motions of living. He doesn’t narrate himself, or whine, and he never breaks down, but it is obvious to readers (and to the characters) that Alex is not in a good place, but he accepts it because frequently that is life — just getting through. And so it’s particularly clever that Luna and Vaughan end this issue where they do, with Alex’s life on the verge of a huge change as he opens the box that contains Ada.
The cliffhanger in “Alex + Ada” is excellent, and I’m hard pressed to imagine a reader that wouldn’t be intrigued enough to come back for issue two to see exactly where Luna and Vaughn plan to take this story. On the whole “Alex + Ada” #1 is simply an excellent start to an exciting new book.