After the traumatic events that exploded in issue #4, Made in Korea #5 opens with Jesse in a lucid dream. The dream references many of the sequences that occurred in the previous issue but acts as a weaker parallel version. A hide and seek countdown. Jesse desperately trying to break doors open to free helpless, innocent students. In the end, Jesse is met with herself, forced to acknowledge the escalating circumstances around her.
Her new reality is quickly shifted back to focus, as she wakes up in Chul’s home. A wonderful double-page spread depicts Jesse and Chul in their newfound relationship, exploring the leisurely lifestyle that is such a stark contrast against Jesse’s violent, aggressive activities with her former friends.
Scenes of the pair sitting in a museum, visiting a cat cafe, and walking through commercial areas remind us why we care and relate with Jesse throughout Made in Korea. As humans, we crave connection. Whether that’s through a parent or a friend, we see the possibility of finding meaning through our relationships and naturally gravitate to all that entails.
While Jesse is technically a proxy built with AI to close the gap for many broken families, her desire for relationships is universal. She has every reason to question Chul’s intentions; where he’s from; why he is suddenly in the picture. Yet even his temporary company is enough to calm Jesse’s chaotic world around her. There is a touching moment between the two, where the dynamics between a parent and a child come so naturally.
The warm, supportive dialogue between them is just one of the many examples of Holt’s sympathetic, honest and relatable storytelling. Not only do they masterfully capture the complicated layers of AI, technology, and boundaries, but they add such thought to the dynamics of our relationships with the people around us.
Schall’s art is a perfect complement to Holt’s thoughtful writing. Their simple, neat paneling and soft, pastel color schemes carry the story so emotionally. Throughout issue #5, Schall captures honest facial expressions from all of the characters. It’s such an effortless journey, knowing exactly how each person is processing what’s in front of them.
Yet despite such a soft and calming visual palette, we know the impending, undeniable disaster is right around the corner. The consequences of both Jesse and Chul’s actions catch up quickly, as issue #5’s conclusion reminds us that the waves are about to come crashing hard. With both Chul’s company chasing him down and Jesse’s own identity and morality building up to its epic climax, waiting to see how Holt will connect all the threads together in the final issue is leaving us on the edge of our seats.
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