Alone on the bus is a lonely place to be.

Publisher: Image
Story: Jeremy Holt
Art: George Schall
Lettering: Adam Wollet

With any comic the second issue has to keep the reader engaged and build on what has happened in the first issue. Made in Korea manages to do this quite successfully. There’s a lot of elements added in here as we build on the story.

When we left Jesse and her family she had discovered reading and adored it. I think many of us can relate to that need to read all the things. In this issue Bill and Suelynn start to realise their proxy, their daughter, is not normal. So there are new challenges to keep her engaged.

Luckily Suelynn works at the public library, full of books, but what Jesse craves is what all created children crave – the company of their peers. Or socialisation as she puts it. It is a classic trope with this sort of tale – a non-human/artificial child wanting to experience being human, but it’s done well.

There is some predictability with the bad kids taking advantage but it is an expected trope and as I said it done well here. To be honest this would have been enough plot for me this issue, because I enjoyed seeing this trope play out as Jesse wants to be one of the humans. She doesn’t realise she is different.

There’s more going on here though. Chul, the one who sent Jesse out into the world, decides that it’s best he raise her. He is somewhat blind to the fact that the reason he’s getting the responses he is is because of where Jesse is. I almost felt like there’s a weird nature/nurture debate that could be lurking here except that Chul sees Jesse as software, whereas we can quite clearly see Suelynn in particular sees Jesse has her daughter. It’s a weird one. It also means that Chul is going to provide the (not quite a) villian element. Or it appears that way. He’s a danger in that he wants to break the family up. What is his goal with Jesse? It’s not sex dolls as we hear him tell his cousin who works doing precisely that.

The art continues to show a world not so far removed from our present. It’s very clean and the vehicles and places are recognisable but also futuristic at the same time. Some of the art is quite subtle, such as the lack of obvious wheels on the buses but it works very well. It does feel like it could be any town in America just a few years in the future.

The rendering of the library is particularly great as we can appreciate Jesse’s huge enthusiasm for being faced with that many books. It’s a really nice sweeping vista of books giving a general strong impression without needing to clutter with too much detail. The art also really expresses Jesse’s isolation. The panels of her sitting alone at school and on the bus are very effective. Jesse also has a slightly different look to the other characters but it’s nicely subtle. You are aware she’s different but it’s not obvious.

Once again the lettering is really nicely done balancing a few different languages as well as human speech and that of AIs (very basic AIs driving cars). The dialogue really works as a result. Jesse has a lot of speech too but it never overwhelms. Chul spends a lot of time talking to himself as well but the lettering really helps here too.

There’s a lot happening in this issue and it does sometimes feel like another issue is packed in there. I was surprised at Chul’s sudden decision to go and find Jesse and I am not sure how to interpret that. One moment he had covered his tracks with the company and the next he was fired. That left me a little confused.

My favourite things were Jesse and her family. I don’t feel like we’ve spent quite enough time on that side of things yet. I hope that we do because I think looking at how to be a parent when you didn’t expect to be a parent is a really interesting way to go, but I am not sure that’s going to be touched on as much as perhaps I’d want it to be judging by future covers. I love Jesse’s story but I also want to see more of Bill and Suelynn’s story since that’s where we started.

I also hope Jesse finds herself better friends. 

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