Giga #1 introduces a world filled with enormous robots—leviathans with cities built around them, religions and cultures dedicated to them, and work forces dedicated to tending to them each day. And these robots are entirely inert, existing like statues amidst humanity. It's a fascinating image to conjure and one that could question what purpose these robots serve, but that's a question that quickly falls to wayside when reading this debut because Giga is ultimately much more focused on the humanity surrounding these metallic monstrosities. Inverting the focus and exciting imagery in series like Mobile Suit Gundam serves the series well and presents an enthralling world that leaves readers to imagine nearly limitless possibilities for issue #2.
The story centers on Evan, a young man who suffers a fall from grace following an unexplained attack on one of the Giga (a.k.a the giant robots). He provides readers with an excellent entry point into this alien atmosphere as an engineer capable of both understanding and contextualizing the behemoths. His perspective, whether it's in the role of a student or caretaker, develops this setting for readers in a collection of sequences that provide much-needed exposition without ever reading as exposition. Instead, he's engaged in explaining the world to himself and developing relationships with a mix of friends, dependents, and shady figures. It's a testament to writer Alex Paknadel's approach to storytelling that even with so much lore obviously awaiting exploration that the story always comes first.
John Lê's presentation of this world—from the titanic mechs to squabbles in the mud—is essential to providing readers an invitation. Metaphors are transformed into clear visuals, like in a particularly impressive early sequence in which humanity's relationship with the mechs is compared to microbiomes in the human form. In a few brief panels, readers are provided with a clear perspective on how this world may work, one that raises even larger questions about whether these mechs would think about what surrounds them at all if they were to move. It's a point underlined in subsequent panels as a rat attempts to navigate these surroundings. Lê pays careful attention to detail and provides plenty of subtext in visual storytelling.
When Lê goes big, it's to Giga's benefit as well. An early spread of the city and subsequent depictions of both mechs and the complex cultures surrounding them induce a sense of awe. Scale is the master of this place and readers are made to feel that these people function much like the rat seen at the story's start skittering between wheels and feet that would crush them in an instant. There are no Gundam-style battles required to bring these creations to life or have readers wanting to spend more time with them. It's only in a moment of frenetic action that this consistent storytelling and control of tone is dropped for a moment as a series of panels struggle to connect.
This world and its many wonders provide readers plenty to love in a debut, and that precedes the introduction of Laurel whose presence raises far more questions about the nature of technology in Giga. It also creates the start of a more familiar narrative, one that begins just as the final page is turned. Evan has lived a hard life and learned a lot about this setting, but it appears that his adventure has only begun.
Many #1 issues attempt to bring readers into a world filled with marvels, mysteries, and more lore than one could hope to explain in a single issue, but Giga #1 succeeds where most fail. There are many questions to be answered and a lot more to be learned, but Evan's story over the course of a mere 25 pages provides a solid foundation and one that demands to be built upon. The visuals are soaring, the characters complex and human, and the struggles feel immediate in spite of their alien setting. This is more than a good pitch, it's the rare idea that delivers upon the promises of grand ideas with a well told story and I, for one, am ready to read more.
Published by Vault Comics
On October 28, 2020
Written by Alex Paknadel
Art by John Lê
Colors by Rosh
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
Cover by John Lê