REVIEW: 'Made in Korea' #1 by Jeremy Holt, George Schall, and Adam Wollet

 It's only a matter of time before artificial intelligence and humanoid robots begin to fill the gap for families who want children who can't have them otherwise. It's a morally and ethically divisive issue that Jeremy Holt and George Schall make real in 'Made in Korea,' a brilliantly conceived slow-burn of science fiction that is as aspirational as it is haunting. 


MADE IN KOREA #1

Writer: Jeremy Holt

Artist: George Schall

Letterer: Adam Wollet

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: May 26, 2021

Cover Price: $3.99

A QUICKSTART GUIDE FOR YOUR PROXY

STEP 1: Remove box.

STEP 2: Power on.

STEP 3: Raise your child.

For Jesse, the world's first true A.I. system, growing up means learning to think outside the box. This exciting new six-issue miniseries will redefine what it means to be a family in an age when biological parenthood is no longer a reality.

Score: 

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

A programmer with a secret, a family desperate for a child, an unbelievable bargain combine to make this near-future world all too real and compelling. Jeremy Holt writes some interesting characters that wear their motivations on their sleeves. There's never a question about what they want. It's that drive to get it that sets the stage for this futuristic story about a world where A.I. and adoptive android children are a reality. The programmer in Korea breaks a code he feverishly installs in an android and sells at a discount to a couple in the U.S. That couple feels the pressure to have their own realistic humanoid robot and quickly snatch up this bargain. The programmer wanted to perfect this code and a wife wanted a child. Now that they got what they wanted what happens next?

There's this lingering cloud over the couple once their android or Proxy as described arrives. The tension in the air may not be intentional but reading and watching sci-fi has programmed the reader to expect some sort of dark twist to occur as the Proxy named Jesse learns to adapt to her "life" once its online. The dark twist never comes, at least not yet, and instead there's this charming learning curve both the couple and Jesse have to go through as they adjust. It's sweet and and tender, a family for the next millennia that transcends the literal bag of artificial flesh with the stainless steel chassis that Jesse is made from. 

'Made in Korea' is so well constructed between the frantic events with the programmer in Korea to the Texas couple at first skeptical then determined to add a child to their lives. The pacing and characterizations make this an enthralling read. It's a slice-of-future-life that hooks you to see what happens next. Why is the programmer so distressed? What makes Jesse different than the Proxies before it? How will Jesse and the couple bond? Holt quietly builds these stories with lingering questions that draw you in and demand answers. Soon, by the end of the issue you're totally invested and consumed by the story. 

George Schall's art conveys a more lived in future without the aesthetics of a Blade Runner or Judge Dredd. This isn't a dystopian hellscape. This is us in the near future. Technology has advanced but not to the point of flying cars and A.I. everything. Except for some scenes from the tech company, everything is bright in pleasing pastel colors, and warm textures representing a more genial slice-of-life story you'd expect to be funny and not as dramatic. It's a disarming style that looks down to earth and lets the dialogue guide the story.

'Made in Korea' #1 is an involving story not dependent on spectacle but ideas and human nature. It's a science-fiction story built on emotions and wants. What this all means after issue one, only the creators know, but readers will get sucked into the story of a family made whole by the questionable methods of a man with his own agenda. This is the stuff of Philip K. Dick, a quiet triumph, and should not be missed. 

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