by Angela Cainen

Trees growing out of giant robot hands? It’s more likely than you think.

In a previous podcasting life we reviewed Giga #1 and liked it. For those who didn’t listen to it, I’ll review both issues #1 and #2 here.

The story of Giga can be summarised as follows: in an alternate world there was a great battle between giant robots called Giga. Now they lie dormant and their bodies are homes to humans, ruled over by a religious order that is just a little bit controlling. Out in the wilds are the Dusters who have their own agenda, one at odds with the established order.

We see this world through the eyes of a young engineer, Evan Calhoun. Once an initiate in the religious order but following an event when he was younger he is now an outcast living as best he can and hiding a robot, Laurel, who is suffering corrosion and who Evan has sworn to fix.

What follows is a testing journey as we learn about the world that Evan is part of. We see the brutality of the religious order that rules with an iron fist and part of that iron fist is Mason, an old classmate of Evan’s from when they were students with more than a touch of sadism about him.

Then there’s the question of the murdered Giga that Evan stumbles across, Laurel’s origin and what Evan is trying to do to repair her. Whilst in the background lurks his past and from that past, his friend Aiko who had another agenda. The fact that all of these characters and their journeys are brought together in such a neat way is part of the strength of Alex Paknadel’s writing which doesn’t sacrifice world building for character but allows both to develop organically alongside each other.

Evan is a really great character. The fact he has no legs and is in a wheelchair isn’t a reason to pity him. He’s got an inner strength. We see him as a questioning initiate with interesting ideas and over the course of the first two issues we really see his intelligence and his kind heart. It’s clear he didn’t fit into the order because the order is not necessarily the sort of place that would appreciate who Evan really is, as shown by their later attempts to investigate him.

His relationship with Laurel is also quite touching. Laurel is illegal and must hide. Her existence is a threat and gets Evan into trouble in several ways as he tries to repair her by investigating the dead Giga for spare parts. Mason, our antagonist and perhaps not the nicest person, also seems to have something more to him than first meets the eye. As does Aiko who is more of a mystery but one which is gradually revealed.

All the characters feel well rounded and like there’s places to go with them. The world they are in also fits with that, as again it is slowly revealed to have depth and mystery. The quotes of the order’s religious text are scattered throughout acting as both clues, exposition and fleshing out the world whilst also giving the reader a chance to reflect on all of that. Also well lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

The world building is really helped by John Le’s art which does a great job of contrasting the rusted hulks of the Giga where people live with the surrounding forest and the times where the two intersect. There’s a real run down feel to the dwellings inside the Giga, as the technology appears to be as faded as the mythology that has sprung up around them. The Giga themselves are imposing, panels where the cities are shown as Giga sitting next to each other are really effective. There’s a real sense of scale in the Giga.

Added to that is the colouring by Rosh. The corrosive fluid has a very viscous quality and the rust of metal contrasts beautifully with the green of the forests.

Overall in these first two issues there is a lot to enjoy and a lot to get lost in. I look forward to seeing more of Evan’s journey and more of the world of Giga.

I give it 4 out of 5 giant sleeping robots.

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