Review: Made in Korea #1
George Schall’s cover for Made in Korea #1 has to be considered one of the best in 2021. It’s what made me stop scrolling through the list of upcoming comics I was scanning, looking for my next fix. Once I saw Jeremy Holt was involved, the writer behind Skip to the End and Southern Dog, I knew the quality of the story would match the grotesque wonders of the cover.
Made in Korea centers on a couple that’s debating whether to bring a child into their family. Thing is, the child in question is a kind of ultra-realistic android that’s programmed to behave like a real son or daughter. As is the case with technological innovation, the android kid is expensive and seemingly available only to those privileged enough to have easy access to the required funds.
The title’s manufacturing reference isn’t there for show either. The android children are actually made in Korea, which allows Holt and Schall to add an entirely different but interconnected story thread that, in this case, sees a Korean programmer trying to crack a code that could have an effect in android behavior.
Holt’s script is quite naturalistic, presenting well-rounded characters that feel genuine. Everyone is infused with personality and I appreciated how opinionated they were when commenting on the small but meaningful changes their world has gone through.
Those small details will make any fan of Phillip K. Dick proud as they build up a sci-fi world that thrives on complex subtleties without letting big ideas get too watered down in the process. There’s a delicate balance struck between character moments and big plot events that keeps things moving at a quick but measured pace.
A few pages are also borrowed from the movie Logan in terms of the comic’s worldbuilding, in which the subtle bits of sci-fi that are shown also develop the setting and the characters’ place in it. The near future of Made in Korea is a place that’s taken noticeable steps in technological evolution without making it come off as overwhelming and all-encompassing.
Holt and Schall also find the time to bring up conversations about artificial intelligence, the capacity advanced tech has to adapt and perhaps surpass humanity, and technological co-dependence. There’s even a reference to Dick’s famous novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, thrown in to establish the kind of sci-fi Made in Korea is going for.
Schell’s art perfectly captures the shine that’s often associated with certain idealized versions of the future. It’s crisp, clean, and sleek, as if the future is obsessed with keeping things in their right place, if only for appearances sake. Schell doesn’t go for the dirty, gritty sci-fi look of Blade Runner, Akira, and Brazil, where trash and rundown high-rises color the environment. Instead, he goes for visuals that contain hidden dangers buried deep within suburban standards of life.
Made in Korea packs a lot into its first issue. The six-issue miniseries is ambitious and expansive, worthy of the topic it settled on. There’s something lurking in its pages that looks like it’ll blow up in later issues concerning the questions that come with adopting a child among couples that can’t conceive. Just how much that’ll figure in the story remains to be seen, but what’s here is already enough to make for an exceptional comic.
Made in Korea #1 will be released in comic shops on May 26, 2021.
Story: Jeremy Holt Art: George Schall Letters: Adam Wollet
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy and make sure your robotic appliances aren’t becoming sentient