Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #97 by Drew Barth

Do You Have a Moment to Talk About Robots?

From Gundam to Pacific Rim to Big O, I’m likely to be all in if there’s a robot bigger than most buildings stomping around somewhere. The newest series from Vault Comics, Alex Paknadel and John Lê’s Giga, gives me robots as big as buildings because they have become actual buildings. From cathedrals to apartments, the giant robots of old have opened themselves up to become the habitats for the people left behind after their war had devastated the planet.

Giga, however, isn’t the story of the giant robots and their fights—it’s the story of the people left behind inside the giant robots and their fights. As a result of the battles the Giga had commenced years prior, they have been deified. These giant robots have been opened up, studied, and turned into grand cathedrals to their power as well as buildings for everyday use. Baba Yaga is somewhere furious her house only has chicken legs instead of pneumatic skyscrapers. And it’s in these grand cathedrals and buildings that we meet our main character, Evan Calhoun. Evan is a person who uses a wheelchair and used to be a part of these cathedrals until being cast out for unknown reasons. When his story begins, he’s struggling. Barely able to scrape together enough scrap for rations, him and his robot, Laurel, enter a Giga beyond their city limits and directly into peril.

Vault Comics excels at first issues. Giga continues that trend. A first issue is one of the hardest things to write in comics—the balance of world-building, introducing characters and tone, and establishing a story in roughly twenty something pages is a feat. Paknadel and Lê manage this balancing act due in part to their method of storytelling in this issue. We learn a small amount of Evan’s past and his connection to the religion around the Giga, but an explosion occurs and we hard cut to thirteen years later where he’s struggling to survive. We’re given our world in just a couple pages—from the attitude of the world to the Giga to the general struggle of living in a world that exists in the shadow of giant robots.

Giga satiates my need for giant robot stories by giving me a giant robot story I’ve never seen before: one where the giant robots haven’t even moved. I’ve seen robots fight, I’ve seen them brood, I’ve seen them choke slam the living embodiment of entropy, but I’ve never seen one stop and become a part of the setting. What Gigadoes so well throughout its first issue is it makes you think of these behemoth machines as immovable—they’re just as much a part of the background as a skyscraper in Metropolis—and focus in on the people who have to live around them. It feels like the kind of thing Paknadel and Lê can set up just long enough before one of the Giga begins to move.

Get excited. Get huge.

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.