Alex + Ada is a popular Adult Comic series published by Image Comics that was collected into three volumes. They were my first read for the Beat the Backlist Challenge.
Alex + Ada centers around a young man in his late twenties whose fiancee has recently left him. For his birthday, and in an attempt to cheer him up, his grandmother buys him a new life like X5 android. When Ada arrives, Alex is initially hesitant and wishes to send her back, but he ultimately decides to keep her. However, he becomes disappointed that Ada will only follow commands and is unable to make decisions or have an opinion. Alex has to decide whether or not to “unlock” her sentience or to leave her as she is.
In the second volume, Alex and Ada begin to get to know one another after Alex’s decision to “unlock” Ada. While Ada struggles with the fact that she must hide her sentience around others while learning to be human, Alex struggles with his growing attraction to Ada. Growing hostilities towards robots and concerns that sentient A.I.s will attack humans put strain on their relationship.
In the third and final volume, Alex and Ada have to deal with the consequences of Ada being sentient when the robot rights group they belong to falls under attack and they go on the run.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’ll end there. I think this was a very interesting story that brought up a lot of questions about what it means to be human and technology run amok. Stories about robots gaining sentience have been around since Issac Asimov first wrote his robot stories and they have continued to modern culture with the Battlestar Galactica reboot. This story explored that in a new way. I’m sure the robots right’s movement in the story was supposed to be a metaphor for the more real world right’s movements, most recently those for the LGBT population.
I also thought it brought up questions about what it means to really be human, a theme explored in the short lived show Almost Human. Ada’s struggles with being human-like reminded me of Dorian, the android in the show, as did Alex’s struggles with coming to terms with her sentience reminding me of Detective Kennex.
However, the artwork is over simplistic. All the characters looked the same to me, just with different hair, eye, or skin color. I couldn’t tell many of the female characters apart, and I had trouble with two of the male characters. The facial expressions were also basically always the same, no matter what emotion the characters were feeling. Simplistic is one thing, but these were just too simplistic.
I also didn’t like the over use of the ellipses when characters paused when speaking. And I thought the story could have used a couple extra chapters with Ada and Alex getting to know one another. They seemed to fall in love too fast for me.
I give this one a solid Three Lightsabers.