In the first line of their proposal for “Giants,” the Valderrama brothers wrote, “Ambition is the monster that grows until it devours you.” With this second issue, we begin to see the truth of that start to come to light, as well as some actual giant monsters. Careful, as there are some spoilers ahead.
Written and Illustrated by Carlos and Miguel Valderrama
Zedo and Gogi, two young men who have depended on one another for survival in the hellish, monster-infested future, find themselves separated. Zedo is forced to prove himself as part of a ruthless gang, while Gogi finds himself in the frozen White World ruled by the giant monster Sheik!
* An original vision from two powerful new talents!
It has become a cliché, when talking about zombie fiction, to point out that it is not the zombies that are the monsters, but the people surrounding them. But, like many clichés, there is a decently sized kernel of truth to that sentiment. In any story with monsters, whether they be zombies, or in this case, the Kaiju and the ecosystem of terrible bug monsters riding on its back, the story is most interesting when it’s the humans that are the real threat.
Picking up where the debut issue left off, the two protagonists spend this issue separated. While the first issue showed something with the makings of a really interesting coming of age story, this second issue shows the Valderrama brothers are aiming a little bit higher. This isn’t just a coming of age story about two kids facing challenges together, it’s a story about the different paths that life can take someone, and the way a person’s ambitions can change things.
“Giants” #2 is a bit slower than the first, though that isn’t to say it’s boring. While the first issue only needed to get the reader to care about the two main characters, Zedo and Goji, this slightly slower pace lets us get to know the larger cast of characters. Like the first issue, “Giants” #2 separates into two basic parts, the establishing of the human’s world underground and then a chase sequence involving a Kaiju. This story is very segmented, but with these parts split not only by location, but also by character.
First there is Zedo’s story, which follows his decent back underground, taking with him the Ambernoir that they were first sent to find. There is little in this half of the issue not shrouded in darkness, or colored in harsh, oppressive reds. Even in the small scene where Zedo is above ground, he is trapped in a cave, surrounded by darkness.
In the half of the story following Gogi above ground, it is all whites and light greys. While a bit stark and barren, it’s still lighter than anything underground. Even during the moments of genuine danger, where the kids are being followed the Kaiju, this half of the issue maintains the same sense of wonder and naivety that the first issue had.
Above ground, Gogi meets a new group of people, living outside of the caves and darkness that he came from. The difference between this group of kids, willing to save his life without really knowing anything about him, is in direct contrast to the treatment Zedo gets upon arriving back at the hideout of their gang. Even though he had completed the mission he was sent above ground to do, it is only with an act of violence that Zedo is able to bring himself into the fold of the gang that he was willing to sacrifice his life for.
The action in the issue, when it picks up, is still fantastic. Whether in the smaller, person to person scenes, or in the bigger, more Kaiju sized action set pieces. When the story is taking it’s time, in the interaction between characters, the faces and body language almost tells the story on its own. And when the story becomes a bit more frantic, the action is perfectly paced, with lines and motion blur pulling the readers eyes across the page. I would be remiss not to mention, also, that the Kaiju itself still looks fantastic. Alien in all the right ways, always followed by its swarm of large, bug like monsters. It is everything a reader could want from monster design and action.Continued below
In the contrast between these two stories, “Giants” #2 begins to make true on the promise that came with that proposal. It is ambition, the drive to move up in the world no matter the cost, that is the real monster in this story. Even when fighting the Kaiju, there is never as much danger for Gogi on the surface of the world as there is for Zedo surrounded by their gang. These two stories, while seemingly moving apart, are still thematically linked. And through all this, the action, and the interaction between the people Gogi meets on the surface, keep the issue feeling fun. Two issues in “Giants” is still a fantastic coming of age story that is both exciting and dark in equal measure, but still able to hold onto its sense of wonder and heart.
Final verdict: 9.0 – A great continuation of a fun debut