Self/Made #4 // Review
Pulled from the framework in which she was born, an artificial intelligence is forced to deal with life as an android in a world of imperfect organics in the fourth issue of Self/Made. Writer Mathew Groom’s story begins to reveal its unique voice in an issue drawn by Eduardo Ferigato with colors by Marcelo Costa. Various classical sci-fi themes are satisfyingly brought together into a serial which is showing more and more promise with every issue. There’s nothing specifically fresh about the fourth issue, but the characters that the Groom and company are bringing to the page are idiosyncratic enough to keep the series compelling for another chapter.
The AI known as Amala has been taken from the corporation that owns her. Her creator has placed Amala’s mind in the body of an android which really shouldn’t have any autonomy at all. This incident proves to be an issue as Amala’s creator is desperately trying to keep a low profile. Creator and creation are pitted against each other in a conflict that is as abstract and philosophical as it is social familial. “Mother” and “daughter” are having difficulty communicating with each other as the police close-in. Time is running out for both of them.
The creator/creation themes that this issue is so heavily grounded in have roots that go back to the dawn of sci-fi. The conversation between Amala and her creator has haunting echoes of Shelley’s Frankenstein anchored by an intellectual depth. Amala was created for a game, and so she thinks that there’s some objective in the world she has come to inhabit. Her creator is having a hell of a time convincing her that “real life” has no purpose. It’s all just survival. A fish out of water story in which a powerful superhuman android is being hunted, and her creator finds out he might not have any actual control over her creation. It’s all very compelling stuff.
Ferigato is allowed to alternate between tense conversations and atmospheric images of a cyberpunk cityscape. The resulting issue casts the weight of individual people against a much larger world with sharp perspective. The drama is aided by an emotionally striking design for Amala’s android body. Given all the different ways of rendering an android face, Fergato has found the right balance between organic emotion and synthetic intellect. Costa’s colors cast light in a symbolic mix of reds and blues. The constant presence of reds and blues in and around every panel is a continuous visual reminder of the pursuit. Greens begin to creep into the conversation at issue’s end as Amala asserts herself. All is going as the series launches itself in the direction of its fifth issue.
Once again it’s a comprehensive package from beginning to end. There’s behind-the-scenes info at the end of the issue. Among other things, the team reveals some of the research that’s been done on the Sydney, Australia where the issue’s action takes place. Between that and a regular podcast complete with further background information, the engrossment of the total package for Self-Made is another example of what comics need to do to continue to feel vital in a world of so many other competing forms of media.