Monday, June 25, 2018 • Evening Edition • "Magneto was right."

On The Other Hand #8 ... Giganta

Written by Logan on Monday, December 12 2016 and posted in Features

On The Other Hand #8 ... Giganta

The bigger they are, the harder they hit.



Allison Hayes was larger than life. She was 50 feet tall to be precise.

In 1958, drive-in audiences were terrified and titillated by "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" starring Miss Hayes as the titular monster. Today it is considered a true sci-fi classic. The movie even gave us one of the most iconic movie posters of all time. Hayes played Nancy Archer, a woman due to be wed to a real jerk, when alien powers zapped her and transformed her into a towering damsel of destruction.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman

Big Damn Heroes

Giants and giantesses were common in ancient mythology. Nancy Archer, however, was the first giantess to hit modern popular culture. Her sex appeal ensured that she would exceed and outlast the popularity of "The Amazing Colossal Man" even though he appeared a year earlier. Today, the spirit of Nancy Archer lives on in the DC villain Giganta.

Giants have been common in comic books for a long, long time. Colossal Boy of the Legion of Super Heroes was the first heroic giant appearing in 1960. The most important moment came three years later, though. Henry Pym was already known as Ant-Man in 1963, but that was the year he took on the identity of Giant-Man as well. People in the Marvel universe have been tripping over Pym Particles ever since. Pym inspired a number of heroic giants with his feats: Goliath (also Pym), Goliath (not Pym), Black Goliath (former Pym lab assistant), and even a some not called Goliath. Marvel has adopted the giant as a common archetype, but giants are a rarity in DC. They have the aforementioned Colossal Boy and Elasti-Girl (Doom Patrol, not Mrs. Incredible). And they have Giganta.

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Giganta is the preeminent giant villain in either company and is arguably the dominant giant in all of DC. She didn't start out that way, though. I'm not going to go too in depth with her Golden Age origins because it gets really weird. Suffice to say she used to be a gorilla transformed into the body of a beautiful woman. (William Moulton Marston was one strange dude.) In the Silver Age it didn't get much better. I'm going to pick up with her story starting in 1978 when she gained her growth powers.

Rebirth

"Challenge of the Super Friends" was an animated show associated with the popular "Super Friends" cartoon series. The main premise of this particular series was there would be a recurring team of supervillains in each episode, The Legion of Doom. Even though she was a regular Wonder Woman foe, Giganta was brought into the series to be a counterpart for the new hero, Apache Chief. Riffing off of her name, the writers gave her growth powers just like his. (Just like his, she stole the magic powder that gave him his powers.) Apache Chief vanished into obscurity, but Giganta was reborn as a regularly appearing villainous giantess in the comics.

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Wonder Woman had a real dearth of memorable foes at the time. (She still does. Deal with it, fanboys.) Cheetah was the lone standout. Enter the new Giganta, now well known from her tv appearances. Suddenly WW had two good villains. She is physical power personified, and WW mostly uses her as a punching bag. That's what frustrates me.

It's the Physics, Stupid

I want to take moment to address comic book giants as a whole. Thanks to the recent success of Ant-Man in his own movie and in "Avengers: Civil War" as Giant-Man, the science of human giants is at the forefront of nerd discussions once again. Question: could giant humans exist? Answer: no. In a realm where people fly and fire lasers from their eyes, this shouldn't be an issue. Yet this particular super power is received with cries of, "that couldn't happen!" There are a number of articles and videos online addressing the physics of giants (and shrinkers) and why they simply couldn't exist. Size shifters violate the laws of physics and biology and leave them in the alley for someone else to find.

In 1926, J. B. S. Haldane wrote a famous essay called "On Being the Right Size" which discusses proportions in the animal world and the essential link between the size of an animal and these systems an animal has for life. Allometry is the study of the relationship of body size to physiology. As organisms become larger differences will occur to the body to account for the increased size. For example, large dinosaurs and elephants have very thick legs, but there are also required changes to the vascular, respiratory, and other biological systems.

Robo01

Our comic book giants don't alter their shapes, though. When these characters maintain their human proportions as they grow it is referred to as isometric scaling. The problem is that isometric scaling is governed by the square-cube law which states that an organism (or object) which doubles in length isometrically will see surface area increased fourfold, while its volume and mass will increase by a factor of eight. The practical upshot of this is that a human 50 feet tall would weigh too much for their bones to support them. Other problems occur, too, such as heat management and acquiring oxygen, but I'm going to focus on the mass.

Marvel tried to explain how Pym particles work, and that was their mistake. With the most elastic of sciences, they claim it is the space inside the atoms that constricts or expands. Of course that led to massive inconsistencies and rolling of nerd eyes. When you try to mix real science with rubber science, you're just asking for trouble. DC handles this issue more succinctly: Giganta's powers are magic.

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But wait, there's more!

Whether pseudo-science or sorcery, there are some traits that must be acquired for these giant characters. Primarily, their strength is not merely proportionate. They all display feats of strength that go far beyond what human tissue could accomplish. Punching through concrete and steel skyscrapers is common effect, but without increased strength the massive hand squish like a normal human punching a boulder.

My favorite feat of strength is from "Monsters vs. Aliens." Ginormica, a 49' 11" woman with a familiar origin, holds the claw of a massive robot apart without getting squished. Proportionally, this would be the equivalent of a normal human standing against the blade of a bulldozer. She also runs through the thick metal doors of the spaceship like they're cardboard. (Ginormica has the power of quantonium!)

Giants also gain limited invulnerability. The true measure is unknown, but bullets are generally not a concern. Giganta has been shot by a tank and only developed a bruise. Normal human tissue couldn't do that no matter how thick. It is possible that she is increasing density, too, but I don't think that's happening. No woman willingly gains weight.

She weighs enough as it is. A normal human woman blown up to 50 feet tall would weigh approximately 50 tons, or 100,000 lbs. That's equivalent to 40 mid-sized cars or 100 grand pianos. Increase her height to 100 feet, and her weight balloons to 400 tons. That equals the weight of two and a half two-bedroom houses or 550 cows. Giganta's maximum height is listed as "several hundred feet" but one source estimates 250 ft. easily, or roughly the height of a twenty-five story building. At that height she would weigh over 6,000 tons. That is more than 75 space shuttles. Or 2,000 giraffes. Or 200 trillion poppy seeds. Wonder Woman isn't knocking that over with a punch. And I don't think that's her maximum height.

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Pick on someone your own size

When you consider these details, Giganta is obviously jobbing to Wonder Woman. Hulk Hogan couldn't bodyslam Andre without the giant's consent, and they were much closer together in size. The princess shouldn't stand a chance against her. The raw power of Giganta far exceeds almost anything WW has ever encountered. And yet, the Amazon treats her more like an annoyance than an actual threat. No. No, I don't accept this. You want to talk physics? Let's talk physics.

Even Wonder Woman should do little more than sting when she punches the giantess. It's not a question of strength; strength doesn't even enter the equation. It's about displacement. Diana's arms aren't long enough to do move Giganta's head no matter how mard she strikes. In fact, the harder she hits, the more likely she is to bury her arm in giant skin without imparting any motion at all, like a needle firing into buffalo. Imagine a little green army man flying up and punching you in the face. Scared? I would be more concerned about it getting in my nose than anything else.

Even if WW tried to knock her over by flying at her with great speed her focused power is more likely to go through her than knock her over. The kinetic energy just isn't there. When the force is distributed through Giganta's enormous mass it is completely negligible. Conversely, if Giganta strikes Wondy, the Amazon will go flying every time. The momentum contained in Giganta's massive hand with a casual wave can crush a car. If she applies her heightened strength (upper limit unknown), WW could not resist her. Nobody could (without being a giant themselves).

OTOH-Giganta01

The idea that anyone could catch her foot as she steps on them is utterly preposterous. Even if they managed to stay erect rather than being flattened, she is either driving them into the ground like a stake or they are going through her foot like a rusty nail on a playground. The latter would definitely hurt, but she's not going to be lifted from her feet like that.

The absurd tactic that WW often uses, the one that most irritates me, is tangling her feet. Somehow Giganta's feet are always close enough together to tangle them instead of shoulder width. If they aren't, WW can pull on one to drag them loser together. What? Seriously? Look at those mass numbers. Nobody is dragging her foot anywhere, even with an 'indestructible' lasso. And Giganta has a brain so she shouldn't fall for that trick more than once. In fact, Dr, Doris Zeul (real name) has a genius level intellect. (There was a period where she became dumber as she got larger, but that's no longer the case.) Finally, Giganta is not an AT-AT. She should not be defeated by falling over. Stilt-man, yes. Giganta, no.

No. No no no NO! Stop this!

No. No no no NO! Stop this.

 

He needs our help with his sexy fight!

Now, most everything I've said here applies to all giants. Giganta has aspects that make her stand out from the others, though. She likes being a villain. She's the only recurring giant villain worth mentioning. (I'm not including characters that are always huge, like Godzilla or Galactus in that.)

What really sets her apart, though--and what really pisses Wonder Woman off--is that she's a gorgeous, sexy redhead. (Fact: WW hates gingers.) In true B movie fashion, she continues to tantalize audiences with her costuming. She started by wearing skimpy jungle print outfits. When she returned to the tv screen in "Justice League Unlimited" she wore a cute dress with a single shoulder strap. Black Canary accuses her of not wearing underwear. Today she wears a form-fitting skintight body suit. She's been caught rampaging naked, too.

giganta vs superman 2 by ci0

Ever since 1958, the giantess has been sex symbol. Today, sexual fantasies about giants and giantesses is known as macrophilia. The internet is awash with artwork inspired by this fetish. (I'm not going into more detail on this one; you have Google.)

Giganta's not just a sex symbol. She's a romantic at heart. She was in a relationship with the Atom (Ryan Choi) for a long time. They were such a cute couple! When he was killed, she avenged her boyfriend by brutally murdering the killer, Dwarfstar. That's love. (She's a romantic, but she's still a ruthless supervillain.)

A big hand for the little lady

Giganta is a pop culture icon. People who don't read comics know who Giganta is. Her current form is derived from a popular animated show, one of the very few characters to make the transition from tv to page. She's only been a giant since 1978, but her very existence alludes to one of the great B movies of all time. She first appeared in 1944 (14 years before the movie was released) making her one of the oldest recurring villains in comics. Sure her history is convoluted and involves being a gorilla at one time, but the mantle is an old one. Show some respect.

Giganta's a great, underrated character and deserves better than to be some Themysciran bimbo's stress ball. She knows her job--make the Amazon look good--and she does it well. I sure hope Wonder Woman appreciates what the giantess does for her.

 

"On the Other Hand" is a column of unrepentant nostalgia. The author must admit that the latest technobabble accounting of Pym particles from the pages of FF is actually pretty good. There are still too damn many of them out there.

 

Just a big romantic at heart





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