Giga is the latest blockbuster from Vault Comics, and is another fantastic example of just why we bang on about how great Vault are in so many of our reviews. Alongside this month’s other big release, A Fear Inside, this is one of Vault’s premier titles for 2020 and is every bit as epic as the giant mechs that inhabit it’s pages.
Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: John Lé, Rosh, Aditya Badikar
Price: £3.19 from ComiXology
Giga is one of those books that is so layered with detail and concepts, that trying to sum up just what is so good about it is difficult. But let’s try. Set in a world where giant defunct robots dominate the landscape and have become colonies for disaffected humans is the kind of concept which can only work in comics, as it needs that scale and breadth of imagination that comes with a drawn page.
The story of Giga follows Evan Calhoun, who we first meet as part of a mysterious religious order who celebrate the robots as deities, before an incident impacts their life for the worse. The second half of the story sees him investigate a lost mech at the request of his brother who is part of a secret police, while trying to hide a major secret. And that’s all we want to tell you about the plot, as this is one of those books which is driven forward by the world as much as the actions of the characters.
Writer Alex Paknadel is not afraid of complex and layered story telling, as we saw in the excellent Friendo, but this is next level stuff. Along with artist John Lé they introduce so many intriguing concepts to this world that it feels like even after a dozen issues they will barely have scratched the surface of what is going on.
While the mech’s are nominally the focus of the story, it is the humans that drive it on with how they react to the world and scenarios around them, and Paknadel handles this really well. With his broken down wheel chair, Evan is the ultimate protagonist for this world. Strong willed and stubborn, but flawed and restricted at the same time. A perfect mix of humanity and worn out tech. HIs relationship with his friends and family are the heart of the story, while a character reveal half way through helps to create a really interesting buddy element to the world, as well as one of jeopardy. The religion vs technology of the book is also really interesting and we loved the way the robots are held in such high regard, and constant mentions to a holy text give it a liturgical edge, as does the notion that humans are like microbes who look after these giant beasts.
Visually, artist John Lé does a superb job bringing this world to life and he is ably helped by colourist Rosh and letterer Aditya Bidikar. Lé’s style reminded us a bit of Geof Darrow in Rusty The Boy Robot with his hyper detail and epic landscapes. The muted colours and really unique approach to lettering really help create a unique palette for the book (as do the gorgeous covers) and it is quite the amazing package. While some of Lé’s close up character shots are a bit loose and ‘indie’ he more than makes up for this with the epic scale of the mechs and the synergy between tech and organic matter.
The location in South America is also a stand out, reminding us of the glorious MANU with its mix of tech and trees. While the abandoned locations evoked memories of the opening scenes of Rey in Force Awakens. And of course the giant robots evoke memories of classic Transformers, as well as Pacific Rim and even Dave Cook’s awesome Killtopia – especially with the new arrival. Plus with a variant cover based on a classic Marvel Shogun Warriors issue, there is a bit of that as well. Albeit in a much more grungier manner.
However this is not one of those books which is a homage to its influences, it is very much its own entity. These comparisons are ours, not obvious references as we are simply grasping at touchstones to help describe what it is all about. In actuality it is a gloriously original book that mixes themes such as technology vs religion, machines vs mankind, and epic scale vs intimate moments to create something really really special. Giga towers above the indie comics landscapes like the mech’s that are at the core of its story, but brings you back to earth with its glorious humanity.