When I was in the third or fourth grade I would often distract myself from the tedium of the Texas brand of traditional factory style rote education by drawing robot battle comics. These things would be epic in scale — huge explosions, endless rounds of ammunition, buildings being destroyed, shit flying all over the place, people screaming — and they reflected the obvious discontent and disconnect I felt towards my role in the system, as well as my puerile drive to fuck shit up (of course).
Giant robots breaking things. There is something attractive about the concept, right? It persists (Pacific Rim) and has become almost part of our cultural consciousness. Why? Does it reflect the fact that we still need gods in our lives even though science has made us incredulous? Is a giant robot a science based mythological hero, one that we can get behind because… you know…. science?
Or does it reflect our unease with the pace at which we are cocooning ourselves in technology? Is the giant robot breaking shit on a grand scale a projection of our sublimation into a digital existence, our fear of losing control as we technologically advance our lives, blurring work and entertainment and consciousness into one flashing screen after another?
These are big questions, which makes sense, as these are, after all, big robots.
I've got these giant robot questions on my mind because I just finished reading Rita Gorgoni and Stefano Cardoselli's story, Megarobot, in Heavy Metal Magazine #263 (the summer issue). Megarobot is the giant robot story told at a frantic pace, full of over the top destruction and ammunition and body count and fun. It's Cardoselli at his best. All browns and grays and oranges. Smoke and shells and explosions and seafood.
In Megarobot, the cops of Azurek City operate giant robots to fight crime. Special pilot Travis Contrera, the protagonist of this tale, loves his giant robot because it lets him destroy everything and anything in his way. In twelve pages, a bank robbery with a hostage situation is the perfect backdrop for destruction. The addition of another giant robot as an antagonist only adds fuel to the fire, and thus, the giant robot battle.
Gorgoni plays directly to Cardoselli's strengths. They make an amazing husband and wife team. Her writing is perfectly paced to complement Cardoselli's work, her beats and his blasts are like a bebop riff on outrageous, bombastic booms.
It's awesome in every way that giant robots blowing shit up are awesome.
Which is awesome.
So. Does Megarobot actually provide any insight into our cultural fascination with the myth of the giant robot battle? Does it push the dialogue further towards an understanding of this modern archetype rather than just perpetuating it? Are we, as an audience, any closer to facing our fears or our needs or our drives by reading this piece?
But it sure is a lot of fun. Come on, IT'S GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS BLOWING SHIT UP!
You can find Megarobot in Heavy Metal #263, which is out now.
Daniel Elkin has had issues with gravity for a very long time, but he understands why it is so popular. He can be found wearing brown corduroy, tweeting relentlessly about sandwiches (@DanielElkin), and professing to be Your Chicken Enemy.