As distressing as it is to think we are in a simulation, humans don’t have a problem making artificial worlds of our own. Game developers populate games with countless NPCs. And these days every Smart Toaster has its own A.I. If our reality was no more real than the virtual realities we make, would we be any different from our creations? This is the question that lies at the heart of Image Comics sci-fi odyssey, ‘Self/Made,’ Vol. 1, written by Mat Groom, illustrated by Eduardo Ferigato, with colors by Marcelo Costa and Mariana Calil, and lettered by Troy Peteri.
Yesterday, Amala Citlali understood her place in the world. She was a soldier among many, a trained warrior sworn to defend the kingdom of Arcadia. But then the dark wizard Teronak attacked along with his armies. Only Amala survived to tell the tale to Prince Brycemere, a hero tasked with slaying the wizard.
Amala joined his quest, but the prince was no hero. To restore Arcadia, Amala slew the prince and saved the kingdom. But that was yesterday. Now Amala finds herself far from home, trapped in a bizarre world of metal walls that ring with gunfire. Beside her stands a woman, one who has just told her that she is a computer program and that the woman is her creator. In order to survive long enough to see tomorrow, Amala must learn what she is, and who she wishes to be.
One of the most astonishing aspects of Self/Made Vol 1 is the series’ sense of scale. From the first chapter to the final page, Self/Made Vol. 1 takes readers on a trek across all planes of existence. No two issues are alike in setting or pacing. With every chapter, Amala’s world grows, as does what it means to be Amala. And while Amala’s journey is our focus, Amala’s creator Rebecca is just as important.
Self/Made Vol. 1 alternates between the two women’s perspectives. As a character designer for a game development company, Rebecca puts up with corporate sexism and workplace hostility in order to pursue her art. Her path as an accidental god compliments the parallel story of her creation’s self-actualization.
The twin protagonist structure propels the narrative into uncharted waters with each new chapter. But luckily for readers, artist Eduardo Ferigato is up to the task. He illustrates each new environment with its own unique aesthetic. And there are so many different environments. From space arenas to dessert palaces, and even the fourth dimension, Ferigato makes every step of this cosmic journey gorgeous. Likewise, colorists Marcelo Costa and Mariana Calil bring their A-game to the series.
By the end of Self/Made Vol. 1, I wanted more. The volume collects the series’ largely self-contained first arc. However, it leaves Self/Made open to strange new possibilities. In Self/Made Vol. 1’s afterword, writer Mat Groom promises to return one day to Amala and Arcadia. But he also makes it clear that Self/Made’s return isn’t coming any time soon.
Self/Made Vol. 1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Self/Made Vol. 1
By the end of Self/Made Vol. 1, I wanted more. The volume collects the series’ largely self-contained first arc. However, it leaves Self/Made open to strange new possibilities.