Made in Korea Image Comics
On long bus rides, I had two unforgettable VHS-related experiences. The first was a trip from New York to Boston where the only tape available was the movie. Twister. The first half of the film was entertaining enough, but the second half had been taped over by someone’s home movie of a walk through a neighborhood decorated with Christmas lights, and to this day I don’t know if Helen Hunt ever managed to track down that cow.
The second was taken on a trip between Boston and New Haven. The movie was shown at that time. AIHaley Joel Osment plays a uncanny robot child in the movie “The Machine” The tape was intact but I couldn’t see the second half as it was too disturbing. A child that is not a child, adrift without a family, humans exposed as callous inhumane monsters — I could feel the panic attack coming on and scrambled for headphones to block the movie out. A story about the revoking love was too disturbing to watch as I was going through a painful, long-lasting breakup.
But maybe it’s time for me to revisit that story, twenty-something years later, because I can’t process how much I enjoyed the similarly unsettling storyline of a new paperback out this week. When Made in Korea released its first issue last year, it was the only time I’d ever given a book a rating of six-out-of-five. Now I’m issuing the same rating for a collection of the first few issues.
MADE IN KOREA VOLUME 1
This is the collection of the various first issues Made in Korea is the best comic book I’ve read in the last decade. Sometime in the next century, humans are gradually transitioning away from having children the traditional way, and raising robotic “proxies” instead. A couple in Texas obtains a proxy of their own and they name her Jesse, but she comes with something unexpected — a hidden cache of code in her brain, stashed there by a Korean programmer gone rogue. Jesse is a fast learner in her new family. She exhibits uncanny intelligence, curiosity, and strength. She’s also intrigued by — and unable to fully understand — social relationships with peers, a quality that two sinister classmates see as an opportunity to exploit. Jessie is looking for her Korean coder, who accidentally gave her her identity. Her Texan adoptive family wants her to love her and Jesse wants her to know who and where she belongs. Jessie wonders if these forces are in conflict. Did it your body or the people who created it? What about the people you meet every day? Did it happen to you? Or was it a collaboration among all parties, with each of us an accidental conglomerated partner with strangers. This first volume contains a world-spanning adventure, family drama and a coming-of-age story. It is an urgent read with cliffhangers that make you gasp.
Rating: 🤖🤖🤖🤖🤖🤖 (6/5)
Writer: Jeremy Holt. Artist: George Schall. Adam Wollet.
OWLY: A TIME FOR BEING BRAVE
Every elementary school class should own a collection Owly books, especially this fourth installment. A group forest animal-friends is reading a scary fairy tale together. One of them struggles to get over his fears about the dragon in the book. An opossum walks by during a casual game of ball, which triggers recollections of the fictional dragon. Tension starts to build in the normally peaceful life of the animals. They must face their fears and have fun. This book is a delight for all ages, with its charming illustrations and minimal dialogue. It will also be a joy for anyone learning English or just starting to read. You will enjoy the best episodes Fraggle Rock, there’s a gentle lesson behind the cute creatures: This book is a tribute to kindness, and the bravery that it requires.
Rating: 🦉🦉🦉🦉🦉 (5/5)
Writer & illustrator: Andy Runton
CRUEL SUMMER #1
This is a paperback release of a collection that came out in hardcover a few months ago, and it’s probably the smartest, saddest crime noir I’ve ever read. A loose band of thugs plots the ultimate heist during the summer of 1988. However, unlike other crime stories, these criminals are not cool, swaggering, nor aspirational. They’re miserable losers, pathetically chasing cash from one holdup and brawl to the next, and the more depressing note is that one of them has a teenage son who seems to perceive some allure in his father’s dead end life — or maybe it just seems inevitable to him. An expertly twisted story that loops around on itself, the best moments come in terrible choices that are at first mysterious and then illuminated by a shift in the story’s point of view. Our antiheroes see life as a Rube goldberg machine of violence, which cannot be stopped once it begins to fall down. All we can do now is to watch the fear rising on each page.
Rating: 📿📿📿📿 (4/5)
Writer: Ed Brubaker. Art: Jacob Phillips, Sean Phillips.
ALSO: THE SAGA SAGA RESPONSE, LOVE IN SPACE and A GORGEOUS JOINT FROM SPAIN
The superheroes are busy this week — there’s issue-ones for Wolverine, Batman and Robin, Mary Jane and Black Cat, and Peacemaker. You may also be wondering why there’s a Christmas special with Batman and Catwoman, a month after Christmas, and the explanation to that is, like the explanation for so many confusing situations these days, supply chain problems. This week’s big news is the amazing Saga series has a new installment, or at least it would if any of them had been delivered this week — every shop in town either seems to be missing that box from their shipment or instantly sold out. There are supply chain problems! It’s okay. Take a look at the new Mister Miracle, a sweet sci-fi love story; or All my FriendsA nice book by Hope Larson in middle grade about friendship and music. Another interesting book is Spain: A Visual IllustrationThe stunning hardcover book, “The Spanish Diaspora”, is a beautiful exploration of the Spanish diaspora.