Dish Of The Week makes its return as I just had to share my thoughts on Vault Comic’s new release, Giga #1 by Alex Paknadel, John Lê, ROSH & Aditya Bidika.
I’m a big fan of the mecha genre, be it the giant kaiju battling kind, the deep religious tinged suffering kind, the cyberpunk kind, and everything in between. Mostly all of the mecha genre comes from Japan, so I am always SUPER interested when the genre is filtered through an American lens. That is Giga #1. But there is no giant robot battle or fate of the universe here. Instead were way, wayyyyyyyyyyyy past any of that. The initial hook here is that we are following the story of humanity WELL after the anime ended. Humans now live inside the giant mechs like some type of invasive bacteria, either hoarding parts or being a part of a religion that worships these unmoving “Gods”. Instead of getting a story that focuses on the major heroes who pilot the giant robots, we get a story about all the humans living in the giant robot’s world, as in literally living in them in most cases. That is just so INTERESTING!
As I get older, I find myself less attracted to the “slam dunk” comics that these companies put out that are sure sellers, the event books, the back to basics superhero relaunches. I find myself craving more and more whacky, OUT THERE ideas in my comics. These books tend to stick with me a lot more these days. I’d much rather a creative team swing for the fences and miss, rather than never swing or even suit up for the ballgame at all. Too often these publishers play it safe. Vault Comics has shown me they are never going to bunt, they are never going to get walked to first base, they are going to grip that bat and swing like like some sort of roided out monster at every pitch that a creative team throws their way. Giga is one of those pitches. This book is unique, interesting and I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the continuing story and that’s rare to find that special magic. This book absolutely brings it when it comes to interesting ideas.
The religion, like I mentioned earlier, built on worshipping and tending to these giants. An owner’s manual you’d normally slide under the seat, their sacred texts. Evan, our main character offers a very interesting counterpoint, that humanity was created to function like a biological part of their system.
From the first few pages theres already so much thought and intriguing material presented by Paknadel that I must say is a unique way of doing things in this genre (I havent watched every Gundam & mech anime ever, so forgive me my ignorance if it has). Immediately I was hooked. I couldnt wait to read more. And from there we get a mysterious, blasphemous, unthinkable murder mystery explosion and we are thrown into a timeskip. Again, this book keeps it interesting.
We follow a very different, aged Evan now a few years later as we acclimate to his struggling life. This is where I want to talk about the art and colors by John Lê and ROSH. This book has such a unique aesthetic that I am a huge sucker for. I love the juxtaposition between these enormous otherworldly giant robots that do not move, so they just become part of a city. Buildings and shelters and alleyways and additions are thrown together utilizing the massive frames of the robots as integral architectural pieces.
The look and feel of this world come alive on the page. The colors are such a great mix of wild hues that help set the tone of our scene settings, be it inside a Giga, in the slums of the city, or in the outskirts of the forest. The colors change and reflect the mood and the content you’re seeing in such a smart way. Amazingly, the two make a world of cities built in the shadow of huge mechs seem totally normal, grungy and lived in. It’s an incredible skill to properly sell that type of world building and everything just gels together perfectly as the art helps prop up the story and the story further fuels the imaginative art.
Eventually the whole book becomes fuled by mystery as we are consumed by first and foremost the Giga mystery. What are they? Are they Gods? Who came first? Why are they all shut down? But we go even further into what caused the explosions and murders we see keep happening in this book. Why are some Giga malfunctioning and exploding their cores? Is someone making this happen on purpose? Is it a natural function? Is it someone related to Evan? What happened to him and some of the other characters during the timeskip?
And most of all what in the hell is with this humanoid Giga that Evan has hiding in his apartment?? Laurel seems like a sweet, tiny thing that he seems to have under control, but he keeps upgrading her processors and we get grim reminders that Evan is perhaps going to unwittingly unleash some type of out of control Frankenstein’s Monster or set off some type of unseen Giga chain reaction.
This is one of the most intriguing and well done intro issues to a comic story I’ve ever seen. To be able to blend such complex and organic world building with so many mysteries but keep you engaged and tethered to a full understanding of what you’ve read is pretty damn impressive. I can’t wait for to keep reading. I dont know where this will go, or even if I end up hating it, but at least it will be INTERESTING! God bless Vault and the creative team for suiting up and taking that swing!