In "Alex + Ada" #5, Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna appear to have taken readers to the end of the first act of the series, as Ada's mental freedom from last year is explored and we find out how exactly she's responding to no longer being suppressed. While the pace for "Alex + Ada" still feels very slow, at the same time there's something very compelling about this series.
"Alex + Ada" #5 in many ways functions the same way as the previous issues. This isn't a plot-heavy title, but rather one that spends its time delving into the minds of the characters. This is especially true here, with Alex trying to help Ada as her mind overloads with its sudden freedom. There aren't any physical fights, no escape scenes from the authorities. Instead it's a psychological ride, as Alex's own psyche is the ultimate key to the series moving forward.
It would be easy to make a glib comparison to the film "Her" but while both deal with relationships involving artificial intelligence, I want to point out that it's actually rather far from that. Vaughn and Luna's story approaches the basic idea from a very different angle, and with underground societies, martyrs and android massacres, this is a comic that stands on its own as its own, satisfying creation. I also like Alex much more than the protagonist of "Her," because while he's still recovering from a breakup I also feel like he's a more functional person. It's easier to identify with Alex's choices and reactions as a result, and I like the take that Luna and Vaughn have gone with here.
The art in "Alex + Ada" #5 is really beautiful, without ever being flashy or even out of ordinary. This is a comic with three characters in a hotel room; no crazy leaps into people's minds, no jump cuts to a more expansive location. And yet, Luna keeps the book working well. Part of it is the strong body language on display here. Not just the moments where Alex is grabbing a convulsing Ada and the two fall onto the bed, but the quieter times. Alex kneeling next to a prone Ada and talking to her ends up feeling very intimate and personal, as we watch Alex react to the conversation and we see all of the emotions running across his face. His smooth, soft lines and colors bring such a human quality to the comic that it's hard to not get pulled into the story with them.
"Alex + Ada" #5 continues a quiet but enthralling series. Luna and Vaughn aren't going for big flashy stories but they don't need to, here. Instead it's thoughtful and intriguing, and I'm in for the long haul at this point. This might be a low-key series, but "Alex + Ada" is a winner.