Image Comics’ Self/Made No. 4 review: Amala enters the real world


Rebecca fled with Amala’s program, and in Self/Made No. 4, she inputs her file into a robot body. But Amala isn’t content on staying put any more.

Self/Made No. 4

Writer: Mat Groom

Artist: Eduardo Ferigato

Colours: Marcelo Costa

Self/Made No. 4 cover (Credit: Image Comics)

At the end of Self/Made No. 3, game designer Rebecca’s life’s work had been destroyed by her conniving colleague, Bryce. Her boss was too afraid of her creation – a sentient AI named Amala who could change the landscape of technology. But Rebecca was able to retrieve the shattered orb that contained Amala.

In Self/Made No. 4, it has been months since Rebecca was fired, and we find that she has been salvaging data off the orb during this time. She has now finally uploaded the restored files of Amala into a robot body. Amala is understandably shaken by yet another change in her environment – first her home of Arcadia, then the testing chamber, following which they battled Brycemere in another test, and now this, the real world. Rebecca’s lack of social skills doesn’t help the situation either. Thankfully, Rebecca’s friend (with benefits?), James, is there to diffuse the situation.

James suggests he and Amala take a stroll around the town, but as is always the case in science-fiction stories, no good deed goes unpunished. James is accused of stealing such a slick bot, and when Amala comes to his defense, all hell breaks lose. Rebecca’s fears of being found out come to fruition when the police come after her and Amala, but the two women’s differing ideologies cause much strife between them. Is there any coming back for this partnership?

More from Comics

Self/Made No. 4 firmly plants the story in the near-future and its politics rather than the magical realm of Arcadia – where Amala existed. The creative team builds this world as similar to ours, but with slightly more advanced technology. It’s the kind of science-fact style that appeals to a wide range of readers.

Mat Groom adds little hints that add to the world of Self/Made – the fact that race relations remain tenuous, the power of “sponsors” over every aspect of this world, as well as another mystery from Arcadia. To top it all off, the philosophical monologue that Rebecca gives is particularly moving; not only does it belie her own state of mind, but there is a universality to the text that once again elevates this series to more than just entertainment fiction.

Rebecca, Amala and James in Self/Made no. 4 (Credit: Image Comics)

Amala’s reaction to the world has an essence of Mal in Inception, and one wonders if that is why the upcoming issue in the series is called “Leap of Faith.” Are the creators paying homage to the film, or dropping an Easter egg for readers?

Eduardo Ferigato’s art is wonderfully detailed, and from the backmatter, we see that some of the locations in this issue are inspired by real-world places, which makes the art seem even more cinematic. The colors by Marcelo Costa, however, are the stars of the show here. The shadow work is especially delightful, but so is the sheen on the cars and the muted palettes in the sewers. The entire creative team have come together to make a phenomenal world that has a Blade Runner/ THX-1138 vibe, without actually copy-pasting from those films.

Next. Legends of Tomorrow’s Ava Sharpe to return as season regular. dark

Self/Made No. 4 ends with the protagonists reaching an impasse. How will this affect the rest of the series, since the central relationship has been its strongest feature so far? But, going deeper into this world is an exciting prospect, especially through the eyes of Amala, who has only an academic understanding of the real world. She now has her own mysteries to solve, and the biggest concern is how Rebecca will cope with her life without Amala; she has literally been Rebecca’s sole pursuit in her career. These two characters are intrinsically intertwined, whether they like it or not.