GIGA #1, available from Vault Comics on October 28th, begins a new tale of a war-ravaged world where dormant mechs have become the new cities and technology-based religion rules with an iron fist. Written by Alex Paknadel and drawn by John Lê, this new series combines Robotech’s large-scale future tech with the desperate-hope-under-claustrophobic-oppression of Brazil (1985).
Lê’s cover hits all the right notes to be successful. There’s a strong contrast between the dormant Giga’s hand and the peaceful blue sky. Your eye is immediately drawn to the figure seated casually in the Giga’s palm. Despite the scene’s serenity, you get a small hint of anxiety as the growing tree tilts precariously over the edge. Lê cleverly hints with symbolism, the tenuous nature of life, and its dependence on the Gigas in this world.
Paknadel’s story gives you the impression that something is about to happen to this future dystopia, breaking everything loose. Evan, a talented engineer, left the Order years ago after a tragic incident. In the years since, Evan’s life has been very hard as he struggles with robbers, finding scrap to trade for food, and surviving just above the bare minimum. Where Paknadel’s story works are in the thorough development of the world and its characters. You get history, government, people, and the predicament without getting lost in any of the jargon.
Where Paknadel’s story doesn’t quite land is the lack of a hook. In screenwriting terms, there needs to be an inciting incident that grabs the reader to invest them in whatever adventure lies ahead. The inciting incident is possibly Evan’s search for a robot part, but the action is so mundane for Evan’s daily routine that it hardly feels like anything is happening at all. I’m mildly curious to see what happens in issue #2.
Lê’s artwork echoes a strong Moebius influence, particularly in the architecture and the backgrounds. The Gigas and the cities their “corpses” have created appear ancient – almost Aztec – but infused with futuristic technology details. When Lê combines the aging technology with the surrounding jungle’s overgrowth, the scenes become huge and feel much bigger than the panels they fill. Excellent design work be Lê.
If there’s one area from the art that needs some work, it’s in the details of the faces. Frequently, the eyes are misaligned, or hairlines are off-center, or the angles of a chin or jaw don’t match the angle of the character’s head. It’s not noticeable in any of the wide panels, but it’s hard to miss on the closeups. It doesn’t detract from the issue overall, but it was distracting on scenes that were close-up where character emotion needed to come through.
ROSH’s coloring work on this issue is excellent. Every scene is cast in varying lighting gradations, giving you the impression that you’re watching the scenes unfold during sunset or dusk. It adds a mood of transition, as day fades to night, which adds to the sense that change is about to happen.
Aditya Bidikar made some unique lettering choices that add some uniqueness to the look of this issue. Word balloon tails are pairs of black and white lines, which gives each speaker their own unique style depending on how the lines are shaped. It’s a nice touch to add a little distinctiveness.
GIGA #1, available from Vault Comics on October 28th, does an excellent job setting up a unique world to explore. Despite the lack of a strong hook, the story fleshes out the main character very well, and the art team accomplishes the daunting task of creating a future world that looks wholly lived in.