Have you ever wondered what would happen if Godzilla and his kaiju brethren went undefeated? If humanity was never able to defeat the monsters that ravaged their world, what would become of the survivors? Dark Horse’s GIANTS #1 explores this unique brand of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Written and illustrated by Carlos and Miguel Valderrama, GIANTS #1 introduces an incredibly engaging setting evoking Akira and Pacific Rim. Setting and spectacle are always important when portraying kaiju, but the key aspect is the characters. The Valderramas show that they understand this with their portrayal of orphan brothers Gogi and Zedo.

Struggle in the Underground

Let’s take a step back and set the stage. Years ago a comet hit earth. With it came the grim arrival of the giants. Humanity was driven underground after the surface was rendered into an eternal winter. I assume this happened after the futile use of nuclear weapons against the colossal enemies from space. The survivors of humanity hid underground where they could be safe from the titanic threat on the surface, but of course, where there are people in suffering, there will be conflict.

GIANTS #1
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

The first image we see following a titanic fight between giants is the chaotic Rumble. Gogi and Zedo’s underground city is embroiled in a gang war between the Bloodwolves and the Grim Bastards. Already I’m totally on board. This is a really strong opening. The primal savagery of the titanic beasts mirrors the chaotic violence of the survivors. It expresses the notion that to survive is to fight.

During the Rumble, an all-out brawl between the two gangs, the brothers sneak into the Grim Bastards’ hideout as part of the initiation into the Bloodwolves. I would’ve chosen them too — the Bloodwolves is one of the raddest names ever. Anyway, their mission is to steal an extremely precious resource in the underground: Ambernoir.

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Ambernoir plays a key role in the first issue. It’s a form of gunpowder, seemingly originating from the bones, or maybe poop, of the giant monsters on the surface. Considering how rare guns would be in the underground, ambernoir gives a violent edge to whoever can get a hold of it. While Gogi and Zedo’s mission goes off less than perfect, the leader of the Bloodwolves gives them a new assignment: harvest as much as they can from a monster’s lair. Obviously, that’s easier said than done.

Brother’s Bond

The relationship between the two brothers is well done. From the beginning, the dialogue and facial expressions quickly convey the bond between the orphans. The impetuous Gogi plays off the neurotic Zedo in a symbiotic relationship that keeps them both alive. However, a surprising twist at the end of the issue leads me to think that their character arcs will be way more unexpected and interesting than what the beginning might have you believe.

While the dynamic between the brothers is deep and expressive, GIANTS #1 doesn’t give the same attention to the supporting cast. The three other characters we see in this issue are a Grim Bastard guard that doesn’t talk, the brutal leader of the Bloodwolves, and his kinder second-in-command. The brothers don’t do much talking to others, but their submissiveness to the Bloodwolf authority does speak volumes. Especially when compared to their hot-headed fight with the Grim Bastards.

GIANTS #1
Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Ragged Gangsters and Titanic Monsters

While the depiction of faces and expressions adds a lot to the story, you shouldn’t discount the character and background design. The raggedy survivors evoke a Mad Max-esque post-apocalypse struggle, while the vibrant backgrounds serve to support that. And while we only see them briefly, the Giants’ designs are amazing.

Pacific Rim and the modern era of kaiju has clearly influenced the Valderrama brothers, and I deeply appreciate it. They also give a lot of attention to color choice — in the underground everything has a reddish hue, while on the surface it’s white and blue. This does a great job at setting apart the two worlds, evoking anger and restlessness in the realm of the survivors and cold demise in the realm of the Giants.

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Final Thoughts on GIANTS #1

In case you got to the end of the review and didn’t notice, I fucking love this comic. Personally, I have a wide range of very niche interests that sometimes intersect in awesome ways like GIANTS does. However, this comic can stand on its own and is downright fantastic in its own right. Do yourself a favor and check this out! Pick it up here.

GIANTS #1 by Carlos and Miguel Valderrama
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
GIANTS #1 introduces a compelling take on both the post-apocalyptic and the kaiju genres. Most impressively, the writers manage to put the focus on the brothers amid the titanic setting.
91 %
A Hot-Blooded Tale of Survival

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