Made in Korea, a harrowing SF story and domestic drama, continues as Jeremy Holt and George Schall show Jesse continuing to fall in with a bad crowd at school and move apart from her loving parents. This is while her good-intentioned, yet socially inept “creator” tries to take her away from her family and return to where she was manufactured in South Korea. Made in Korea #3 is a solid middle issue and sets the table for some explosive developments and creates tension in key relationships in Jesse’s life.
Starting with an opening sequence where two of Jesse’s classmates blame the manufacturer of a BB gun instead of their own ineptitude for their lack of skill with it, Holt and Schall explore the connection between white male mediocrity and violence. Naive Jesse thinks that these guys are her friends, but they’re really just using her in a school shooting plot. Jeremy Holt nails these men’s ideology in a well-written monologue where one of them talks about being an outsider and persecuted by society. This draws a parallel to men who appropriate media, pop culture, and even history to justify their insecurities and hatred. As a women of color and artificial intelligence in a predominantly human society, Jesse faces real discrimination and is treated as an “other” by everyone from her parents, “creator, and even the teachers at her school who ask if she’s had any “technical difficulties” when she doesn’t show up for a few days.
Holt and George Schall do an excellent job of exploring racism through sci-fi metaphor and reality while also continuing to probe into the question of what it means to be human. These ideas come out through the strong storytelling of Schall’s art. They show the tension in Jesse’s family through a few powerful images like a slammed door, an angry face, or a car speeding into the night. The pink and red color palette can almost make you hear that asshole revving up his engine in the lane next to you even though it’s a one lane road, and the speed limit is 35. George Schall truly makes Jesse a conduit for the emotions of Made in Korea in bittersweet sequences like her genuinely having a good time with the bad kids from her school and howling like a wolf when her expression is usually neutral. It makes you even feel sadder that she’s being used by the folks around her.
As mentioned earlier, Made in Korea #3 falls squarely in the science fiction genre, but Holt and Schall also play with the superhero genre, especially in how a couple of the students from Jesse’s school treat her. Without mentioning the name of any popular characters, they reveal that she’s basically like Wolverine with unbreakable bones, great strength plus a knack for markmanship. However, these kids also strip the agency away from Jesse and basically play on her loneliness to use it for bad ends like robbing a military base and setting up a school shooting. Jeremy Holt strips away the “badass” from punching and shooting and focuses on the pain and loneliness as Jesse doesn’t want to hurt anyone. (It’s literally in her programming.) George Schall reinforces this by showing no joy when Jesse uses her abilities, and they even add some uncertainty in her facial expressions during the military base heist.
Jesse has great mental and physical skills, but of course, they’re exploited by humans for evil ends in Made in Korea #3 as some kids from her school prey on her loneliness and not fitting in to use her as a pawn in a school shooting. Jeremy Holt and George Schall have spent the previous two issues of Made in Korea crafting Jesse’s family dynamic and this five minutes in the future world, and this third issue starts to overturn it a little bit with the scientist that helped build her lacking the people skills to prevent a catastrophe from happening. The thread that continues to run through the series is that the people around Jesse continue to treat her as a “human in name only”, and this definitely seems like it will backfire in the back end of Made in Korea.
Story: Jeremy Holt, Eunjoo Han
Art: George Schall, Eunjoo Han Letters: Adam Wollet
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review