The Ultimate Gladiator: Remender talks "Gigantic"

Writer Rick Remender is re-teaming with "Strange Girl" co-creator Eric Nguyen for "Gigantic," a new Dark Horse ongoing series scheduled for release this October. CBR News caught up with Remender to get the details on the sci-fi series that he describes as a twist on "The Truman Show" with giant robots and monsters thrown into the mix.

"Gigantic" is centered around "a brainwashed, alien superhero deposited on Earth to be the spotlight of an intrusive, around the clock television program being filmed without his knowledge and broadcast universally," Remender told CBR News. "Visually, it's a modern take on the big dynamic power of Jack Kirby, merged with the scale of a 'Godzilla' movie and sprinkled with 1950s sci-fi kitsch. 'Gigantic' will tap into what makes comics fun-- big visually exciting pages and destruction on a scale never before seen."

In "Gigantic," for the worlds fortunate enough to be invited into the United League of Planets, war, disease, crime and poverty are things of the past. "With no real problems to face, the citizens of these worlds have become ravenous consumers with an insatiable appetite for entertainment," Remender said. A spin on the film "The Truman Show," "Gigantic" is "a reflection on America's consumer-based culture and the secret price paid by both the audience and the actors for a life filled with the endless distraction of entertainment."

In this society, the "fat and satiated" citizens of the ULP worlds are each granted a modest yet comfortable home, outfitted with wall-to-wall holo-projectors. "And every citizen spends nearly 90% of his lifespan patched into and watching holo-programs," Remender said. "As entertainment began to define the existence of advanced life, The Universal Broadcast Company slowly emerged as the most powerful force in the Universe. Its popularity was due, almost entirely, to one program: 'The Ultimate Gladiators.'"

The first episode of "The Ultimate Gladiators" was watched in more homes on more planets than any show in history, despite strenuous objections from the ULP for its brutal and bloody nature. "The high fatality rate meant little; these new-life gladiators were little more than slaves, constructs owned by the UBC," Remender explained. "In the years that followed, because of the popularity of the program and the absurd revenues collected, the UBC has become the behind-the-scenes governing body of the known Universe. Codename GIGANTIC was the most famous of the Ultimate Gladiators."

Remender continued, "The series' initial thrust will be the slowly unraveling the mystery of who Gigantic is and why he's constantly being engaged in absurd and seemingly staged large-scale battles across our globe. Regardless of his attempt to stop the ensuing destruction and protect humanity, many of the attacks lead to the flattening of dozens of major cities across the globe, setting all governments to the singular task of annihilating this alien monster. As the size of the robots and bounty hunters sent to fight him continue to increase, so does the wholesale destruction of the cities of men. Gigantic's guilt and sorrow exponentially increase as he begins to realize that no matter where he goes, death and destruction inevitably follow him."

Rick Remender assures readers that "Gigantic" will keep them on their toes. "Every few issues of 'Gigantic' everything you think you know will be flipped," the writer said. "There are a number of great reveals in the first arc and who 'Gigantic' really is and his connection to the humans he comes into contact with should be a nice surprise." Remender's goal was for the book to be "as emotionally captivating as it is visually stunning."

Speaking of the artwork, Remender was first introduced to illustrator Eric Nguyen back when the writer was searching for an artist for "Strange Girl." Nguyen's "groundbreaking and totally unique art" was the perfect fit for that series, and the artist has kicked it up a notch for "Gigantic." "Eric is a pleasure to work with and just look at what he and John have done here," Remender said. "There is nothing else like it in comics.

"I knew for this to work the book needed an artist who could destroy anyone who looked upon it: A pencil Medusa, if you will," Remender continued. "Not only that, but it needed an equally amazing scientist of color to give it the classic 'giant monster' movie feel and scope I was imagining."

After coercing his "Strange Girl" co-creator into providing pencils for "Gigantic," (a process which, according to Remender, involved beating his collaborator "about the chest and buttocks with a Wacom tablet") Nguyen recruited John Rauch, whom the artist had met while working on "X-Men," to color the book. Remender's longtime letterer Rus Wooton rounds out the creative team.

Remender told CBR News that "Gigantic" has been a number of years in the making. "As it's gone through the stages of development it's morphed into something very different than what it started out as," the writer explained. "It's better to let a series gestate for a couple of years as the ideas can be compiled slowly, simmering in a stew of my own idiocy. It also allows for reflection, i.e. something I might have seen as a great idea a year ago suddenly seems empty and overdone. The characters have an opportunity to rattle around in my head and their voices clarify over time."

"Gigantic" is not the only project on Remender's horizon. "Matt Fraction, Howard Chaykin and I are doing 'Punisher War Journal' at Marvel," Remender said. "Eric Canete and I are hard at work making 'The End League' at Dark Horse. Tony Moore and I are doing 'Fear Agent' also at Dark Horse. Pat Olliffe and I just wrapped our last issue of 'All-New Atom' and have begun to work on our new project for DC. I have a new ongoing at IDW with Bret Blevins that hasn't been announced yet. I did a one-shot called 'Frank Frazetta's Creatures' with Peter Bergting at Image. Kieron Dwyer and I hope to get working on 'Army of Frankenstein' soon for Image."

With so many projects on his place, Remender said he's in "comic book heaven."

"Gigantic" is an ongoing series, broken up into self-contained 5-issue arcs. This leaves room for a hiatus between arcs to make sure the creative team can keep on top of their publishing schedule. The first issue of "Gigantic" hits stands this October.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Indie comics forum.

Azrael Curse of the White Knight
Curse of the White Knight Finally Exposes the Dark Truth About the Waynes

More in Comics