Self/Made #3 // Review
Games can be a valuable outlet for learning, but games based in violence can have complications. As a wise screenwriter once said, violent delights do, in fact, have violent ends. A designer of a violent game tries to convince her creation that she’s not quite as real as she thinks she is. As difficult as this might be to accept, the news is complicated as both creator and creation are on the run in the third issue of writer Mat Groom and artist Eduardo Ferigato’s Self/Made. Colors come to the page courtesy of Marcelo Costa.
Fantasy non player character Amala has been given just a bit more sentience that the rest of the world that she inhabits. The company that owns the game she’s a part of sees this as a potential liability and wants her deleted. Amala’s creator would prefer that this not happen and so she guides her into a dangerous sci-fi space marine-inspired world to save her.
Groom is playing in sci-fi territory that’s been pretty well covered in books and movies and TV over the course of the past several decades. The first couple of issues of the series seemed to be a bit too derivative of the stories that had inspired it. With this third issue, the relationship between Amala and her creator gains a distinctive dynamic about it that transcends the genre and takes the story into an appealing direction. The rationale behind making Amala the way she’s been made with the level of autonomy she has is given a very specific personality. More and more Self/Made is starting to look like its own story thanks to patient dramatic work by Groom.
Ferigato’s art shows a powerful sense of mood and motion as creator and creation run through a sci-fi landscape beset with green, glowing wraithlike cyber-monsters. Ferigato has done some really interesting design work for the series thus far, but this issue lacks some of the iconic punch that he’s been able to carve into the first two issues of the series. Another shortcoming of the art might be the lack of delineation between the world of the game and the world outside the game. The story is easy enough to follow, but the intensity of the game would feel a bit stronger and more fantastic if Farigato could find a distinct visual signature for it. These are fairly minor concerns for art that effectively delivers violence, action and drama to a story which is beginning to move in an increasingly promising direction. Costa’s colors add beautifully to the visuals, lending the glow of a fantastic world some interesting magic.
With the initial three issues out of the way, Self/Made is beginning to reveal what might make it special. The series is gaining ground with the establishment of a regular behind-the-scenes podcast and a very congenial regular issue-ending letters column at the end of the issue. This issue marks a turning point for Amala, but it also serves as an important foundation for a series that could go quite far.