GIGA, ISSUE #1
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: John Lê
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A post-apocalyptic adventure about warring tribes, giant robots, and religious fervor.
Think East of West meets Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The world was once a battlefield for enormous robots known to modern humans as the Giga. When they stopped fighting (for reasons that remain a mystery), they left their empty husks to be populated by man. Evan is an engineer living inside one of these Giga, and novice in a cult that worships them as gods. He is cast out, however, when his friend inadvertently causes an explosion, kills several people, and permanently damages the Giga that houses them.
Thirteen years later, Evan lives in the slums and scavenges for food and spare parts. He's visited by his childhood friend Mason, a well-off policeman who asks him for information about mysterious activity outside of the city and offers him the chance to come back into the fold. Evan sends Mason away and then tends to his illegal robot friend, Laurel. After looking over her circuitry, Evan resolves to go outside the city to scavenge a dead Giga for parts that might help Laurel stay operational. But what strange things, and more importantly people, will he run into on his errand? And what danger might he be putting himself in by infiltrating the towering, dead behemoth?
Worldbuilding is the main event in this comic, and it is incredibly impressive. This encompasses the writing, visuals, colors, and style throughout the comic, so there's no one name to praise here.
Paknadel's cult of the Giga is a unique and creative way to address the post-apocalypse; humans rebuilding a community around a hierarchical religious structure where the objects of worship are simultaneously the temples, gods, and homes of the people in that society is well realized in the story and opens the door to countless fascinating possibilities to explore, both philosophically and within the fiction.
John Lê's rough lines and detailed backgrounds make the world Giga presents feel real and visceral. As strange and alien as the concept is, the art directs the reader through what living in this world would be like in a convincing and gorgeously drawn fashion.
Rosh's spotted and textured coloring further lends a tactile and believable quality to the fantastical elements of the comic. The grime and rust colors he includes on nearly every panel seeps through the book and lends the impression that the environment is lived-in and real.
Bidikar's idiosyncratic balloon tails and effects merge seamlessly with the art and world around. His lettering is as exciting and visceral as the rest of the comic.
The design of the robots, inside and out, is detailed and awe-inspiring. It's easy to accept that people would come to worship these dormant machines just through the impressiveness of their designs.
The characters, particularly Evan, are layered and driven both in their actions and their personal philosophies. Small actions are highly revealing of everyone in the comic and the dogma about the Giga pushed by the church isn't universally accepted as one might expect from a fictional religious cult.
The page layouts are creatively put together and make the reading experience consistently stimulating without being difficult to follow.
Evan, as a double amputee, is refreshingly written not as a victim of circumstance or someone seeking to fix their disability, but as an actual character that happens to have a disability and that navigates his world only slightly hindered by it.
Similarly, there's a diversity in the characters and a sense that the world isn't made up of a monolithic race of people with one or two exceptions, as is the case in quite a few sci-fi and fantasy worlds.
The comic addresses poverty, violence, and extremism in ways that don't feel like caricature or token. While all of these things are brutal and shocking within the comic, none of it comes across as implausible or inauthentic.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
There's quite a bit of set up in this first issue and I'm honestly not sure what direction the story is going to take. This could be a good thing in a certain light, but it would be nice to have a clearer picture of the stakes and driving conflict.
The depictions of violence and bodily damage are graphic, so if that's something you're not into, there's your warning.
Many important plot points are given subtly or through context clues. This works really well in most cases, but it does leave some things to be desired; for example, there's no real explanation given for why Laurel has to be kept secret. I'm sure this will be explained in future issues, but it's given quite a bit of importance without giving the reader any reason why.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Because it's cool. I know that doesn't do it justice, but honestly, that's reason enough. It's smartly written, philosophically driven, gorgeously drawn, and in the center of all of it are giant robots worshipped as gods. All that is to say nothing of the compelling characters, the intriguing religious angle, the nuanced factions within the greater society, and the massive amount of mystery and awe that seeps into every page.
It feels reductive to point and say, "it's a Vault comic, obviously it's good," but Vault has been delivering consistently fantastic content and this is yet another example of a gorgeously drawn book with an intriguing central conceit and well-written characters, action, and world-building. If you even tangentially enjoy fantasy and science fiction, you'll find something to love in Giga.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer
East of West by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta
No One's Rose by Zac Thompson and Emily Horn & Alberto Jiménez-Alburquerque
If you like the art:
Cayrel's Ring by Shannon W. Lentz & John Lê
Protector by Daniel Bensen and Simon Roy & Artyom Trakhanov
A Letter to Jo by Joseph Seiracki & Kelly Williams
ABOUT THE CREATORS:
Alex Paknadel (@AlexPaknadel) – Writer
Outlander: Paknadel hails from England and uses the politically charged environment of Brexit as inspiration (and a marketing strategy) for much of his work.
Described getting into comics as "falling into it ass-backwards" in an interview with Syfy Wire after he met an editor of Vertigo at a convention and told him about his comic ideas.
Before starting his career in comics, he earned his PhD in Literature.
John Lê (@johnlestudio) – Artist
Man of Mystery: I can find no information on this man other than some of his credits and the fact that he lives in California.
Rosh (@artofroshan) – Colorist
Outlander: Roshan "Rosh" Kurichiyanil is based out of India.
Aditya Bidikar (@adityab) – Letterer
Multitalented: Bidikar has tons of credits not only as a letterer, but also as a comic writer and prose writer. All his credits are available to view on his website.
Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines
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