In 2009, back when I was still working on the article series about NOW! Comics’ Astro Boy series,
I had a dream where I had gone into a secondhand comic book store somewhere in Toronto. While looking around, I decided to
see if NOW! had made a series based on Tetsujin 28. Tetsujin 28 was dubbed as Gigantor in 1963, so it
wasn’t completely impossible that NOW! would adapt it.
So in the dream, I found Gigantor the comic had its own section and pulled out the only issue they had,
and then was disappointed that it was by a different company. After that, I woke up, and discovered several months later that
what I saw was shockingly similar to the following:
It was almost exactly like this, but Tetsujin was facing the right, and Shotaro was
in the foreground with yellow goggles.
I’ve been around terrible comics for so long that my mind is able to connect with them. So, after
researching the Gigantor series, I set out to collect them all, knowing justice had to be done. If not justice, then praise.
But it turned out to be justice anyway. I searched for only a few months, acquiring three issues from stores, and the remaining
ones en masse from an eBay dealer. I asked many a comic shopkeeper if they had Gigantor, and I got many a look silently questioning
how much cocaine was in my system. I bore that for Toontown.
I know everything I need to know about this series, so unlike NOW! Comics’ Astro Boy, there won’t
be any decades-old enigma to unravel through my articles. Antarctic Comics got together with Fred Ladd, the father of anime
dubbing, and twelve issues were made. Half of the series is one story, in bright colour. Then a guy named Ted Nomura drops
out from the cast, and Ben Dunn fends for himself until another artist is brought it. This series also features a reverse
Steacy-Thomas Effect, in which the art goes from being good to being total crap.
Also, I feel it’s a good idea to warn you that these reviews will be a little more…colourful.
Unlike Astro Boy, I didn’t grow up with Tetsujin/Gigantor, and some of the English 1960’s names are completely
ridiculous. Plus, in later issues, there’s so much flamboyant imagery that I’m sure my brain would dissolve if
I didn’t get to write rude things.
He's not even wearing pants!
The first page features a few words from Fred Ladd and Ben Dunn, as well as a giveaway for this “Jimmy
Sparks figure”. I’ve seen that figure before; there was a Tetsujin 28 action figure released in the late nineties,
and it came with a three-inch figure of Shotaro. That means some bastard at Antarctic Press bought that Tetsujin figure, opened
it, played with the Tetsujin, then found the little Shotaro and decided they didn’t want it, so they’d give it
to whoever could mail a letter the fastest.
Either way, the contest ended on the day of my seventh birthday, so never mind.
Today's Target: A part of the world we haven't obliterated yet on the other 364 days
This issue is called “Birth of the Iron Man”, and it opens with a shot of an American commander
telling his troops where to bomb the shit out of Japan. This isn’t 1943, this is the future, so what the hell happens
to world conflict in the next few decades? Either way, Dunn is trying to tie the original Tetsujin origin to Gigantor, and
it’s not going well. The commander points out that Japan has “the world’s first military robot”, and
this one guy comes in his pants.
"Does it even have jets and a rocket handHRRRRRNGH OH MY GOD."
So, the troops head off to fight Super Future World War Two, bombing a tropical island and research centre.
Inside this centre are Dr. Bob Brilliant and Dr. Sparks, formerly Dr. Shikishima and Shotaro’s father, but now Jimmy’s
uncle Bob and Bob’s brother-in-law. At least, I think that’s what’s going on.
"Hurry, Dr. Sparks! The radiation has already turned my right hand into a woman's foot!"
The building collapses on Dr. Sparks, and as Brilliant tries to pull him out, someone with a gun shows up…
"I can't give shockwaves anymore and my hair is no longer shaped like an ass, so I'm just going
to shoot you in the goddamn eye."
A lot of Giant Robo characters and themes reappear with modified designs all throughout the series,
so we’ll just keep track of them with these handy Megaman style badges. The basic Tetsujin characters will get badges,
Anyways, Lord…er, Count Alberto is hoping to take all the prototype giant robots so “a new reich
will arise”, as he imagines a bunch of faceless Tetsujins with shotguns for arms. It’s also revealed that Sparks
and Brilliant were captured by the Japanese and forced to make the robots, so…um. Did Dunn think we were going to do
things like this in the 2010's and on?
Alberto is about to lead the men to his escape submarine when a heavily clothed brunette man with an eyepatch
and scar grabs him from behind and pulls a grenade. WHOA WHAT
WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN GOING ON NOW
For the record, Ben Dunn confirms in the letters column in the next issue that it’s indeed Leiji Matsumoto's
Captain Harlock here. This is probably the best indicator that this comic is weird as shit.
We get a bit of Brilliant moping on a cliff with Sparks’s corpse, watching the jungle burn down while
swearing to make a giant-ass robot for peace. Cutting ahead to “the glorious future!”, we see that robots and
space centres are now widespread. As well, there’s the Iron Empire and The World Justice League, but Dunn probably wants
you to squint and pretend they aren’t the BF Group and Experts of Justice respectively.
"But woman too fast and bullets too slow!"
We cut to a woman named Emma East trying to get out of the Iron Empire with an envelope, and upon seeing
her, the guards declare her a “mere girl”. In response to this, she asks if she can touch up her makeup, but pulls
out a powder tin that sprays knockout gas. Importantly, why the hell did that one guy go, “Yeah, okay, we see you’re
stealing company secrets and should probably murder you, but I understand what it’s like to have your mascara run.”
I’m pretty sure Emma is based on Ginrei, if not Ginrei cosplaying as Jackie Onassis. If this isn’t
the case, then she’s a weak attempt to bring vagina to the sea of men that is the Tetsujin cast. Even Ms. Takamizawa
had more usefulness than Emma East. I hate to spoil it for you, but this issue is the only one that Emma does anything
in. For the next five issues, all you’ll see her do is smile and stand next to…well, I can’t say who yet.
Emma gets outside, and proceeds to fall right the hell off the airship, but she throws her suction cup hat
and begins to climb a rope back up to the building when…
Now, bear with me here, but I swear this is Cervantes the Dazzling. In both this comic and the OVAs, he’s
a close friend of Alberto and pilots GR-2 (whom appears with a different name, which I’ll save for the respective article).
I admit Prince Mecha looks a lot more like Osamu Tezuka’s Duke Red with a Frenchie mustache, ergo he's not at the same
level as the BF Group’s most fabulous member, but every cartoonist’s definition of “mild flaming
gay” is different. The pink shirt's kinda there. Maybe the nose came from Ivan, but that’s not enough for
Oh, okay, there's where Cervantes's gay went.
Also: that's not a bloody rose. You'd think Dunn would check before he made Lord Jim's entrance
revolve around a flower he couldn't draw.
Surprise, everybody gets a cultural stereotype! Lord Jim/Zangetsu the Midday has arrived, and he blows up
the airship and flies off with Emma, presumably killing the shit out of Prince Mecha. Jim quickly grieves the fact that he’s
sending a burning airship full of explosives right into the Statue of Liberty (with the World Trade Centres in the background,
making everything a little more uncomfortable).
Prince Mecha turns out to be the direct opposite of dead and consciously flying the airship into the Statue
of Liberty, up until…
"GIGANTOR! KILL FUCKING EVERYTHING!"
…Jimmy Sparks is spotted randomly standing on the Statue of Liberty’s head, but apparently he
can get away with it because he owns a robot. He flies Gigantor towards the airship with the intent to blow it up, but Emma
takes a moment to state the obvious.
"NOW THE RUBBLE IS FALLING ON US!"
Oh, and here’s a quick indicator that this is indeed something based partially on Giant Robo…
Anyway, Mecha’s airship explodes, and we cut to Alberto brooding over the new information that a researcher
named Bob Brilliant gave his twelve-year-old nephew a giant robot. The next issue is supposedly called “The Iron Empire
Strikes Back”. And…then it ends.
Wow, that was short. At least it was in full-colour, and some of my favourite characters were sort-of there.
This issue was a bit like half a bowl of Dino Eggs oatmeal, assuming there are Dino Eggs outside of Canada
(it’s oatmeal with dissolving eggs that have candy dinosaurs inside). You dig through this vaguely flavoured glob for
a while, every now and then getting a delightful surprise. But the surprise is artificially flavoured and hollow, and after
that, you have to wait until you find another one and surf on that thrill for a bit.
I’m going to review and scan all these comics for free, and I have every bloody right to compare this
series to dinosaur-themed oatmeal if I want to.
NEXT TIME: GR-2, CHIEF CHUJO’S SON, AND THE WORST DUB NAME EVER!
CLICK ON THIS UNDOCTORED MANGA ILLUSTRATION OF GLAM SHOTARO TO GO BACK TO THE MAIN
Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame...