Those of us creative types who grew up with giant robots will inevitably try to design our own or update our favorites. I and my friends grew up with the likes of Voltron, Tranzor Z, Frankenstein Jr., and Mighty Orbots. One of my friends created a Voltron-like robot using armored bicycles (we were kids, shut up) and another planed a comic where cyclopic aliens brainwashed a disgruntled Earthling to use a giant robot to attack the Earth. I have Litor, a flying lion-shaped fortress that turned into a robot, but my best creation in this realm were the Crimson 7, seven robots each guarding a continent against alien invasion. (Yes, including Antarctica. They also backed up the other 6.) I’m sure plenty of artists and comic creators have their own stories.
Ben Dunn grew up with Gigantor, the first of the “super robots”. Released in its native Japan as Tetsujin 28-Go and adapted for the US by Fred Ladd, Gigantor set the stage for the giant robotic protectors that flooded Japanese media and snuck into the US. So I’m sure he was happy to finally work on a Gigantor comic for Antarctic Press. But that wasn’t enough. He also wanted to create his own Gigantor. Why not create his own robot? I don’t know. Maybe he loved Gigantor so much he wanted to update him. While Japan has brought back and updated Tetsujin 28-go after this, Dunn and Antarctic Press created their own update, Gigantor G3, an updated future featuring an update of the robot and three main characters (since AP decided to ignore Bob’s family). It was teased in the back of the final issue of Gigantor, as I mentioned in this afternoon’s review. As a fellow giant robot fan I though I would share and review this attempt at an update that sadly never made it past these penciled art pieces.
First we’ll look at Gigantor himself.
You can click the picture for the full-size image if this isn’t large enough to read the text. Let me start by saying I really do like the design. It’s a more modern design and it looks like it could kick some serious chrome. The problem is calling it Gigantor. While there are some reminiscent features, it doesn’t quite look like Gigantor. The nose is gone and the head ornament isn’t right. It’s boxy rather than cylindrical. It doesn’t really invoke the feel of Gigantor.
Then there are the additions. I like the idea for a computer brain based on human ones, but why would you give your robot organic parts? Where would even get organic parts that sized? That’s just confusing to add, but what gets me are the addition of hidden weapons and the ability to talk. That works for Frankenstein Junior or the Mighty Orbots but for Gigantor? I don’t think (and I could be wrong) Gigantor is supposed to be a sentient robot, just one that responds only to Jimmy and a select few. And I think Gigantor loses some of his charm as a pure fighting robot when you had guns, missiles, or swords into the mix.
Speaking of Jimmy though…
A broadcast helmet is a good update for the old control box. Such a thing wasn’t around a lot in the 1950s when the original comic was created. Voice command toys were popping up in the 2000s as well as voice command games and typing programs, so that makes sense. The implants seem like overkill but not necessarily a deal breaker. And get used to Jimmy’s wardrobe. Except for the headgear, that must be the fashion in this future.
See what I mean? Dick seems to be the only one unchanged, except for his hairstyle. A review I read on the Gigantor wiki brought that up. Oddly, Jimmy gets the wild hair on this one, which was the style of teen anime heroes at the time and with that headgear I understand why. There’s not much to say about Dick Strong, predecessor to Race Bannon from Johnny Quest. Hairstyle aside he’s probably the most unchanged of the quartet.
Bob Brilliant, action scientist. Seriously, look at the pose they gave him. And that jacket. Otherwise, you’d have to read the story to see what changes were made to Bob. However, one line, or rather part of it, has my attention: “…fights to maintain control Gigantor as a defensive weapon, and out of the hands of the military”. There were hints of that in the earlier Gigantor comics Dunn had written but I don’t think we need evil military guy wants to make Gigantor into a superweapon added to the story. The TV series seemed to work fine without it.
Inspector Blooper is an odd duck in the show. Sometimes he’s comic relief and sometimes he competent and it doesn’t always mix as well as the writers seem to think. Based on look alone, Blooper G3 looks more like a no-nonsense police officer. Again, with no stories to judge I’m only guessing based on the blurb and pose the characters are given.
So why did this one-shot not develop? Sadly, a few different factors came into play, from licensing issues to the passing of creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Personally, I’d like to see them rework this as an original concept. Gigantor at least is surely different enough. Maybe make the agent and liaison the same person or one of them a girl. (Imagine a giant battle robot controlled by a teen girl.) There are some real good ideas and as a giant robot fan I would love to see what they do with it.