Fourteen months after the first issue of Rick Remender and Eric Nguyen’s “Gigantic” appeared on the shelves, it finally reaches its issue #5 conclusion. But I’ll take quality over speed of release any day, and this final installment is a strong finish, indeed.
Between the debut of this series and this concluding chapter, Remender’s work at Marvel has exploded — doing fantastic stuff with “Punisher,” and launching a new “Dr. Voodoo” series to delve into the realm of Mighty Marvel Mysticism — and Nguyen helped usher in the end of “The Eternals” with a short run as artist on that comic. Remender has been much more successful with mainstream superhero stuff than Nguyen (whose “Eternals” didn’t capture 1/10th of the dynamism of his work elsewhere), but their collaboration on “Gigantic” has been excellent.
Essentially, “Gigantic” is a mecha series — big, badass robots in action — but with aliens, an intergalactic reality show, and humanity. It satirizes the thirst for gladiatorial violence, or the way we seek pleasure in watching the real-life misery of others on television. But it does that with explosive action and enormous metal dudes punching each other in the face. So it makes for good comics. You won’t see a lot of talking heads or people standing around debating the merits of exploiting civilians, and if you do, at least Nguyen makes them visually interesting, what with the levitating mutated humans with broccoli brains or a displaced farmer in overalls talking with an a fifteen-foot-tall alien producer of sleazy entertainment.
It all makes sense in context, trust me.
The heart of this story is the tale of two brothers, siblings who have been separated for decades — one who has stayed home on the farm, and one who has become famous across the galaxy for his gladiatorial exploits, whether he wanted to or not. And this has been a brutal five issues, with tragic human loss (including the daughter of one of the brothers), and cataclysmic destruction on Earth. It’s what makes the comic — and this issue in particular — work so well. It’s that contrast between the big, dumb fun of robot on robot action with the real sense of pain and suffering from the humans caught in the crossfire. And it’s that contrast between the humble, farmer of a brother and the megalithic interplanetary production crew that would tear apart his world for nothing but ratings. Remender integrates it all, tonally, and Nguyen’s artwork makes you believe in it.
The final page of this issue implies that we may have just witnessed an origin story, the birth of a new robot-mutated human-farmer trio of heroes, ready to take on anything that would jeopardize the peace and prosperity of their planet. But it also feels like a satisfying end as well, Rick Remender’s way of saying goodbye to a personal project as he devotes more time to the Marvel Universe. Whether there’s more “Gigantic” in the future or not, this has been a heart-rending, yet fun, five-issue ride.