Writer: Mat Groom
Artist: Edwardo Ferigato
Self/Made is a science fiction comic that tackles issues of identity, free will, and the singularity. While the first two issues showed promise, #3 and #4 have fallen flat of the mark set early on in the series.
Issue #4 picks up months after the conclusion of #3. Rebecca, the ousted scientist at a gaming company has salvaged a data orb that contains a sentient digital consciousness. She inserts it into an android shell, and voila, Amala is born into the organic world. At first, Amala doesn’t understand what has happened, and it takes her a moment to comprehend the world around her, but it isn’t long before she heads out into the streets with Rebbeca’s friend, James.
The most notable character in #4 other than Amala is the newcomer, James. If Rebecca is all hard edges and bluntness, James is the opposite. He is much more empathetic to Amala’s sensory and information overload than Amala’s creator, and while he doesn’t get much screen time, James is a welcome addition. Fans of this comic will be curious to see how he expands as a character in later issues.
Then there is Amala, confused and scared, overwhelmed by a world she does not understand. Her struggle is horribly ordinary: to find a purpose for her existence. Later, hints are dropped that she is, perhaps, not as unique as Rebecca and James think; but that will have to wait for a later issue.
Lastly is Rebecca, creator of Amala, and insensitive computer programming genius. This issue finally gives readers a full view of who Rebecca really is. In just a few pages near the end of the issue, she goes on a tirade that reveals her as naive, egotistical, and lacking all empathy. It’s a brave move for the writer to reveal a major character to possess such polarizing traits. We’ll have to wait to see if it pays off.
Edwardo Ferigato steals the spotlight, again, in my opinion. There’s a lot to love about his futuristic interpretation. Now that the story has moved out of the realm of corporate execs and state-of-the-art facilities, Ferigato brings a grittier world to life. It is a bright spot on an otherwise, flat issue.
I had high hopes for this comic, I really did, but for this reader, it has all gone horribly wrong. Here’s why: The premise is a good one, the artist is strong, but the writing doesn’t hold up. Characters too often say exactly what they mean rather than layering their words with doublethink and misunderstandings. While this may seem like a strength in a character, it also isn’t the way people typically speak, and that drags this issue down. A perfect example of this is Rebecca’s tired at the end of the chapter: it feels too much like an explanation of what the writer wants this comic to be about, rather than letting readers find out as the story progresses. I may stick with the series until the end of the arc, but in the end, would not recommend it.
While I may read until the end of the arc, Self/Made is not a comic I will continue with afterward.