Friday, March 1, 2024
ComicsComics Corner

Comics Corner – A Married Lesbian Battles Kaiju in ‘We Ride Titans’

When the world is under assault by kaiju on a regular basis, personal drama may seem  inconsequential. For the average citizen, that may be the case – when a monster the size of a skyscraper appears, running for cover is probably more important than a fight with a friend or griping about a bad boss.

Kit Hobbs is no average citizen though – she’s the daughter of the family that has defended the city of New Hyperion since the kaiju first emerged. Monster fighting is in her blood – but she’s got no interest in the family business. Unfortunately, she’s about to get dragged back in when her brother Dej has a catastrophic and very public failure while piloting the giant Defender Nexus robot, leaving her the only person capable of taking the ‘Titan’ mecha into battle in his absence.

Written by Tres Dean, with art by Sebastián Píriz and colours by Dee Cunniffe, We Ride Titans draws plenty of inspiration from the likes of Pacific Rim, with kaiju attacking cities around the world and regional teams dispatching their own mecha to handle the creatures’ rampages. However, the focus is primarily on the human drama underlying the heavy metal monster battles, both in the Hobbs family strife and the impact that has on Kit’s relationship with her wife, Jen.

‘We Ride Titans’ #1 Cover (©Tres Dean & Sebastián Píriz)

Kit herself doesn’t actually take command of a Titan in the first issue, in fact – an opening battle where a drunken Dej ignores orders and ends up laying waste to a swathe of New Hyperion is more to establish his own problems and how his stress-induced alcoholism is spiralling out of control, creating the chaos that requires Kit to step up. The rest of the comic is instead focused on establishing Kit’s independence and stubbornness, for better or worse.

The source of the family conflict also remains unrevealed in the debut issue, but Dean makes the ongoing trauma pivotal to Kit’s identity. Even Kit’s choice of work away from the Hobbs dynasty – a mechanic focused on classic cars – seems like a rebuke to her family, maintaining the increasingly anachronistic relics from an earlier time rather than getting involved in the advanced technology of the Titans.

Avoiding her family as much as possible causes ripples though. Kit’s refusal to emotionally engage even when seeing footage of Dej’s disaster leads to an argument with Jen, one that gets even more uncomfortable when Kit’s mother comes calling, begging Kit to take her brother’s place as Titan pilot – a role, it’s implied, she left behind. During this particularly frosty doorstep discussion between mother and daughter, Jen returns home – and has no idea who Kit is talking to. Kit’s relationship with her family is so broken that Jen has never met her mother-in-law.

Do not operate heavy machinery – or fight kaiju – when drunk (©Tres Dean & Sebastián Píriz)

While the hi-octane action of We Ride Titans, expertly presented with Píriz’s and Cunniffe’s dynamic art and colours, makes the comic an easy recommendation for fans of kaiju cinema, the book will stand out for LGBTQ readers for how deftly and authentically it presents Kit and Jen’s relationship. The first time readers meet them is a simple domestic moment, with Jen waking Kit up with coffee before showing her the footage of Dej’s incident on the TV news. It’s a beautifully quiet, almost banal, introduction, establishing the normality of their life away from Kit’s family.

The argument Kit causes is also dealt with realistically mundane fashion, with Kit spending her day regretting her words and planning how to apologise to Jen. It’s a reaction anyone who’s been the bad guy in a relationship will relate to, while Jen’s forgiveness when Kit finally apologises provides a cathartic moment.

Kit and Jen’s relationship is beautifully realised in ‘We Ride Titans’ (©Tres Dean & Sebastián Píriz)

Kit’s friction with her family may touch a nerve for some queer readers though. While there’s no evidence that Kit’s ostracisation from them is anything to do with homophobia, that sense of alienation and abandonment will be all too familiar to those who have faced rejection from their families. How the Hobbs family dynamic progresses could provide some catharsis through fiction, or prove an uncomfortable reminder.

However, it’s refreshing to encounter a piece of storytelling that does acknowledge family as a concept, both biological and chosen, can be complicated, messy, and painful. Wherever it goes, We Ride Monsters looks to be a much-needed counter to the cloying “family is the most important thing” messages that dominate elsewhere.

If all that sounds a bit heavy, or you simply want to enjoy robots punching monsters around a futuristic city, fear not – the series seems set to deliver more thrilling battles as it progresses. We may have only seen the chaos of Dej’s battle in the first issue, but with Kit set to ride Defender Nexus for the foreseeable future, we’re sure to see her put her skills to the test against some fearsome kaiju in the issues ahead.

We Ride Titans is currently planned as a mini-series, but hopefully there’ll be plenty more to come – after all, isn’t a flawed and compelling lesbian hero smashing kaiju in a giant robot something everyone needs more of?


We Ride Titans #1 is on sale now, published by Vault Comics. Available to purchase physically in comic book stores or digitally.

Matt Kamen

[He/Him] Matt Kamen is a veteran media writer based in the UK, specialising in video games, film, and comics. If found, return to nearest coffee shop.