Home Comics REVIEW: Tabula Rasa in MADE IN KOREA #1

REVIEW: Tabula Rasa in MADE IN KOREA #1

JEREMY HOLT & GEORGE SCHALL have crafted a sci-fi story you won’t see coming.

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Made in Korea #1

Story: Jeremy Holt
Art: George Schall
Letters by: Adam Wollet
Published by: Image Comics

In Made in Korea #1 by Jeremy Holt, George Schall, and Adam Wollet, readers are invited to enter a world where childless parents have the option of purchasing “proxies,” artificial adopted children that appear to be human.

Simple enough, right? Nope: whatever your expectations may be for Four-Five-Nine-Four/Jesse, the protagonist of the comic, you’re wrong. Made in Korea #1 is an overture for a journey you haven’t seen before, even if the component pieces may at first glance appear familiar.

Same New World…?

Like much of the best science fiction, Made in Korea blends the familiar with the fantastic, using the protagonist’s uncanny journey from the basement of a Korean robotics manufacturer to a suburban Texas home to examine well-tread territory from an entirely new angle. As Holt told The Beat in an interview about the series, they delved into their own personal experience as a non-binary transracial adoptee in order to flip the clichéd script on adoption narratives, and the fruits of that labor are evident throughout.

Likewise, Schall’s art provides the perfect window into Made in Korea’s world. Blending rigid, realistic architecture and technology with softer, more human characters (even when said characters aren’t actually human), the aesthetic allows comic and realism to meet in the same way that the narrative connects speculative fiction with the world outside your window.

And that world is more changed than just through the presence of proxies. For one, gun control has been enacted (seemingly quite a few years earlier), a bit of exposition that is deftly accomplished with a few lines of dialogue and a panel of a shotgun shell.

Made in Korea #1 communicates plenty of information about its world in such a way, with elements like the source of the comments regarding the government regulation being important in contextualizing the information. This attention to detail, which is evident at every level, gives reason to return to this first issue essentially as soon as you’ve closed the cover… and when additional clarity on the characters is delivered in subsequent issues, it is essentially guaranteed that you’ll want to return to this issue once again.

Tabula Rasa

To whom does Four-Five-Nine-Four/Jesse belong, and who will be allowed to determine what course her life will chart? That’s the central conflict at the heart of Made in Korea. Between her programmer and activator, Chul, and her adoptive parents, Bill and Suelynn Evans, there’s no shortage of third parties who already have scripts for her life already written by the conclusion of Made in Korea #1.

She/her pronouns are imposed on Four-Five-Nine-Four/Jesse as soon as the packaging is opened, with Adam Wollet‘s lettering capturing the emphasis in Suelynn’s dialogue.

However, it seems inevitable that these expectations can only lead to conflict. For one thing, the question remains whether or not any of these third parties can recognize the potential possessed by Four-Five-Nine-Four/Jesse… and given that, how can they possibly catch sight of what her destiny might prove to be?

Made in Korea arrives today

Made in Korea #1 is a singular overture for a unique science fiction story that begins with the familiar and strikes out for uncharted territory. A perfectly balanced blend of the ordinary and the uncanny, you’ll want to be sure you’re experiencing every panel of this story, beginning with page one.


Made in Korea #1 is available today at your local comic shop.

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