Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Carlos Valderrama
Artist: Miguel Valderrama
Release Date: 13th December 2017
Get your post-apocalyptic science fiction bingo cards at the ready, folks.
– Uninhabitable world that forces humanity to live somewhere else (in this case, underground)? Check.
– Rival street gangs competing for turf, using whatever technology they can scavenge to try to give them an edge? Check.
– Giant monsters roaming the Earth, wreaking havoc on everything they encounter? Check.
Y’see, on paper, Giants – a brand new Dark Horse Comics series from the Valderrama brothers which goes on sale this week – should be a fairly derivative, fairly uninspired sci-fi-by-the-numbers affair. But there’s just something about it that manages to pique the reader’s interest with the story of two young wannabe gang members trying to earn their stripes by venturing above ground to harvest some of the powerful minerals that are now dotted across the surface of the planet.
What’s perhaps most engaging about this series is just how much the Valderrama brothers clearly prioritise character over plot. Yes, there are giant Kauji roaming the planet, but they merely provide a backdrop to the story of our young wannabes – for the time being, at least. This isn’t your typical monster story where the humans are just there to scream and run around in a panic while the hulking behemoths steal the show. This is an actual honest-to-goodness story that just so happens to be set in a post-apocalyptic, monster-decimated world.
The visuals are top-notch, with a vaguely Mange-esque style that instantly invites comparison to (an admittedly slightly less detailed) James Stokoe. The Valderrama’s do a great job of establishing scale right from the get-go, and while there’s a curiously cartoony aesthetic at play – think tiny stars circling the head of someone who has been knocked unconscious – the artwork still works well alongside the story to help underscore some of the frantic action set-pieces, the latter pages of the issue in particular.
It’s not overly original, nor is it particularly ambitious, but Giants manages to land right in that halfway point where the pages keep turning without the reader particularly feeling the need to sing the book’s praises. It’s a solid read with some intriguing protagonists and a striking visual style, but it really needs to try to dig into all the things that make it different if it’s going to stand a chance of surviving the harsh, unforgiving and overpopulated sci-fi comic wasteland.
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