In Made In Korea #1, Chul is a programmer who secretly unleashes a self aware robot on an unwitting family in the United States. Will there’s lives be more like A.I. or Westworld? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
MADE IN KOREA #1
Writer: Jeremy Holt
Artist: George Schall
Letterer: Adam Wollett
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: May 26th, 2021
PREVIOUSLY: Fertility across the globe has begun to fall, so only the wealthy are able to afford the new ‘proxies’ that are being developed to replace the lack of new babies. South Korea is the center of this new industry, and the hunt is on to create the perfect proxy. What could possibly go wrong?
COGITO, ERGO SUM
The search for artificial intelligence in our world moves ahead in leaps and bounds. Coupled with robotics, the future offers many wonderful possibilities (if you’re a corporation selling them) and many, many downsides (how are you going to afford the rent or pay the mortgage if your entire industry has been replaced with aware robots, hmm?). While you ponder that thought, at least you can be diverted from your anxiety by reading Made In Korea #1.
Jeremy Holt has crafted an interesting world in which the fertility rate has begun to drift downward, and only the very wealthy can afford ‘proxies’, extremely natural looking artificial children, to take the place of the children they can’t have. Of course, we’ve seen the premise in movies like A.I., but Holt mixes it up a little with a tale of their creation.
Chul, a young programmer for a South Korean firm, is the cause of all this trouble. On company time, he manages to solve an algorithm, which he promptly installs in a proxy, which he ensures is delivered cheap to a childless middle class family in America. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, as we see towards the end of Made In Korea #1, when he is called into a meeting with management.
But that begins a rather lovely storyline as Bill and Suelynn take possession of the proxy, which is the name Jesse. We see how Jesse comes to terms with her new surroundings, and how she begins to imprint on her new parents. Their delighted reactions with her are touching, and go some way to explaining the straits the world finds itself in.
There’s a theme that is developing here. Their wealthy neighbors only got their proxy because the wife wanted it, and as her husband tells Bill, what his wife wants, she gets. This is showing that the wealthy see proxies more as status symbols, than as replacement children. Similarly, while Chol does a good thing by gifting Jesse to Bill and Suelynn, his masters call him in for an investigation. You can’t be altruistic if it affects the company’s bottom line.
THE FIRST LAW OF ROBOTICS
I particularly enjoyed George Schall’s artwork in Made In Korea #1. I’m no expert, but there is a manga feel to this issue, which if I’m being honest (and having Googled it) the correct term is manhwa, a term used in South Korean comics. This is especially evident when we spend time with Chol. South Korea is a cool, neon lit technological heaven and the sheer strangeness of the place (at least to this Westerners eyes) is evocatively brought to life during those scenes.
Back in the gold old US of A, the artwork reverts to a more pedestrian presentation of life in the West, full of shallow people seeking material comforts. The emptiness of the mansion Bill and Suelynn visit is counterpointed with the warmth and homeliness of their more modest home, a place full of naturalistic furniture and books. Schall brings Jesse to life in an affecting way; whether she is cowering beneath a table, or cuddling a fluffy toy, or excitedly devouring book after book, she is a compellingly cute child who may or may not hide a revolution in her head.
BOTTOM LINE: INTERESTING AND COMPELLING
Made In Korea #1 is a low key first issue in what shapes up to be an interesting, compelling even, story about the definition of being alive and self aware. There’s scope for the series to go down a well trodden genre path, where the proxies rise up and massacre their parents, but…I don’t think so. There’s room for corporate shenanigans, and whether Bill and Suelynne can hold onto Jesse, which would make for a more intriguing story.
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Made in Korea #1
Fertility rates are falling and the proxies are on the rise as a means to help fill the gap. An appealing husband and wife team fall in love with their gifted proxy, while her creator in South Korea is about to discover what crossing the bosses really means.