Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #160 by Drew Barth
The Broadest Shoulders to Carry
I love giant robots. I’ve written about them in the past and I’m going to write about them in the future—it is inevitable. Luckily, another inevitability is giant robot comics getting published on a regular basis. Take We Ride Titans by Tres Dean, Sebastian Píriz, Dee Cunniffe, and Jim Campbell: another story about giant robots, but one that takes a different angle. While giant robot stories can look at connections between people or connections to religion, We Ride Titans goes explores familial bonds.
Set in a world where kaiju attacks happen often—so much so that people don’t even seem to panic when they need to evacuate to underground bunkers—We Ride Titans centers on Defender Nexus, the Titan of New Hyperion. It is the giant robot that has been piloted by the Hobbs family for years and its latest pilot, Dej, has a drinking problem. And you can’t drink and pilot a twenty-story tall robot. Kit, his sister, has long since distanced herself from her family, New Hyperion, and the idea of piloting Defender Nexus. But as much as she wants to keep that distance, Dej leveling a city block due to drunk piloting drags her back.
For a story about family and giant robots, the most striking thing about this first issue is how Píriz utilizes space on the page. The Titans themselves feel cluttered—almost like they are cobbled together from spare parts—but the way Píriz balances these cluttered machines with white space and panel overlays to cut through and keep our eyes focused on the action at hand. And this isn’t just for action-oriented moments. As we cut to Kit and her wife watching the news of Dej’s mistakes, we are given four panels of TV screen amid a white background before the TV cuts out with a vast white space on either side of the panel. As a visual cue of silence, it works incredibly well to hear what is happening on the page. Likewise a few pages later as Kit and her speech bubbles are given another swath of white space to let her linger for the moment before moving on. The quiet in these panels gives We Ride Titans a different feel from many other giant robot series.
Somehow we’re only in the first issue of We Ride Titans and due to the time that Dean, Píriz, Cunniffe, and Campbell put into these pages, it feels as though an entire series has taken place. But that’s one of the strongest things about this first issue: we get the time and the space to really seep into its world and the Hobbs family. We aren’t being rushed to establish everything right away. As fast as the cover and the action looks, they’re there to help us hold our breath for a long exhale later.
Get excited. Get giant.