A Big Big Love

TITAN

By Natalia Yanchak

A review of TITAN by François Vigneault

Published on November 5, 2020

TITAN begins when MNGR First Class João da Silva arrives from Terra to Homestead Station, a mining colony on one of Saturn’s moons. He finds himself in a deeply segregated society where tensions run high, and where he must face his own natural fragility as a Terran in outer space. Immediately, themes of social justice, workers’ rights, military espionage, and company usurpers come to the forefront. João is a level-headed, fair player, sent to the moon to keep its unprofitable mines from being shut down forever.

Enter introspective Titan Phoebe Mackintosh, a former MMA fighter who has a secret Terran vinyl record collection, a love for music, and thus a respectful benevolence for all puny humans.

João and Phoebe connect first professionally, as emissaries for their respective proletariat parties, and then through music, a vestigial part of Terran, or human, history. Fittingly, each chapter includes music references, be it to lyrics or a song or an album title – Vigneault as an author has a foot firmly planted in “human” pop culture, and uses this orientation throughout his work to look back on the things and feelings that are central to human nature. (You can check out his TITAN-inspired playlist here, btw.)

The Titans are genetically modified humans designed to withstand lower gravity, bred bulkier and more brutish to work in their moon’s unforgiving mines. With their purposeful gianness comes an egalitarian regime, at least among their own. Female Titans are quite respected rather than sexualized or scantily clad (as with R. Crumb’s “Ideal Woman,” or in the film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman). Titans are all big brutes, and their size connotes sheer dominance and unfuckwithable power (think Amazons or the giant women of Steven Universe).

“I was inspired by watching two dogs interacting… A chihuahua and some sort of big breed, a wolfhound or something, I can’t remember exactly,” Vigneault reflected in a 2017 interview with The Comics Beat. “I was thinking about the fact that these two very different animals were in fact, the same species, but genetic engineering over millennia had made them very, very different… and it made me wonder what might be in store for humans.”

And like a proper sci-fi writer, he ran with the idea.

Visually brutal and heavy, TITAN’s bold spot-colouring plays into the gritty and visceral elements of life at Homestead Station: bloodied giants’ MMA matches, riots and military brutality, sweaty lovemaking. The story’s pacing is quick, and, by its middle, the tension is so confidently cranked up that one can’t stop turning the pages through to TITAN’s dramatic climax.

TITAN’s first iteration came in 2012 as an English- language webcomic, then was serialized in print between 2014 and 2017. In 2017, TITAN was published as a single French volume by Éditions Pow Pow and immediately took the Québecois bédé scene by storm, garnering several award nominations. As if somehow mirroring the in-book themes of an interspecies caste system, where fairness is expected, but some must wait longer for it than others, thank the stars that this edition has arrived for us Anglo folk.

If you’re looking for a hard sci-fi space-colony love story featuring giant ladies, then TITAN is the book for you. But maybe that’s not specifically what you’re after – in that case read TITAN for a pointed adventure that is incredibly deep and complex, telling more story in its 500-some trichromatic panels than could be told in 500 pages of text. mRb

Natalia Yanchak’s speculative fiction has appeared in Infinite Worlds, Nevertheless: Tesseracts Twenty-One, and Luna Station Quarterly. She has written and produced content for VICE, CBC, Cult Montreal, and Paper Magazine. She also plays in Montreal rock band The Dears. @nataliayanchak nataliayanchak.com

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