Review: Giga #1 is a Small Step into a World of Conflicting Beliefs and Giant Robots
Imagine a world where the Transformers (Called Giga in the story) are worshiped like gods and have a fanatical religion dedicated to them called the Order of the Red Relay. Also, humans live in their bodies. This is the world of Giga from writer Alex Paknadel, artist John Lê, colorist Rosh, and letterer extraordinaire Aditya Bidikar whose use of single lines connected to word balloons adds to the dystopian vibes of the book. The first issue introduces readers to the protagonist, Evan, a disabled Black man, who uses a wheelchair and has left the Order to follow his own path. There’s lots of dead human and Giga bodies, but Paknadel and Lê take the slow burn route and show what life is like in this post-apocalyptic, mecha-filled world before setting up a bigger conflict or mystery.
Alex Paknadel and Lê show the tension between devotees of the Giga, the Luddite Duster gang, and then folks like Evan and his robot buddy Laurel, who are caught in between these various parties. But there aren’t epic battles or big “gotcha” moments beyond an incident in Evan’s past that is responsible for him leaving the Order, or him and his friend Mayra finding a bunch of dead bodies in a heavily damaged Giga that is similar to that incident. Paknadel and Lê seem more concerned in showing what day-to-day life is like for Evan and his complex web of relationships that include the aforementioned Mayra and Laurel (Who is adorable is hell and an action figure or plush waiting to happen) as well as Mason, his buddy from the Order, who wants him to return. Their conversation is relatable for anyone who was raised in any kind of fundamentalist-adjacent religion, still interact with friends and family from that background, and maybe even still feel a little guilty for leaving to forge their own path.
Lê and colorist Rosh’s art do an excellent job showing the size and scale of the Giga and the humans that either hate, worship, or simply tolerate them. For example, the opening scene with explosions, bodies flying everywhere, and intense reds from Rosh cuts to a wide, double page splash of just a little smoking in the the head area of Giga, which is surrounded by other Gigas. It’s like they had an ear infection or accidentally burned a burger on the grill. It’s a slight convenience for them compared to the utter trauma on Evan’s face. The sequence of pages also drive the home the elegant, yet scatological metaphor that he mentioned to his teacher about humans basically being the cleaning/regulating microbes of the Giga. They’re not friends or beloved followers; they’re the plumbing system or the little remora fish that eat parasites off sharks.
John Le’s art truly drives home the point that Giga #1 is set in a post-apocalyptic world with all kinds of small touches like annoying rain puddles, cluttered living arrangement, and fluids dripping from the ceiling. (That might serve a larger plot point down the road when Mason wipes one off his Order outfit.) This is a world where you’re on your own unless you comply to the Order or anti-tech Dusters, who get a short scene that shows that being anti-technology might be a bad idea when it comes to healthcare. They come across as a metaphor for anti-vaxxers, but more post-apocalyptic chic. Even if they don’t directly connect to Evan’s story yet, it’s cool to see the world of Giga from a variety of perspectives.
Giga #1 has some interesting world-building and ideas and is a solid mash-up of mecha and post-apocalyptic fiction with a color palette that is both bleak and intense courtesy of Rosh. There are a couple of explosions and some big damn (and one little) robots, but Alex Paknadel and John Lê structure their story around Evan’s relationships with the world around him instead of going the blockbuster action route and use these relationships to ask big picture questions about the connection between humans with different beliefs and humans and technology. Giga is sure to be another SF jewel in the Vault crown.
Story: Alex Paknadel Art: John Lê
Colors: Rosh Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Vault provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review