‘Giants #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Issue number 4 of the Valderramas’ Giants leaps a year into the future. Usually, time jumps like this so early on (or near the end of a story) are bold moves to take, but, logistically, it’s a smart one for the story, which is... The above world has been covered in snow and kaiju (For the uninitiated, think giant monsters like Godzilla or Pacific Rim.) These kaiju fight territorial fights. Meanwhile, in underground cities, violent gangs fight for control over what little territory there actually is to live in. Two ambitious lads, Zedo and Gogi, wanted nothing more than to join one of these gangs, so they were sent above ground to gather some ambernoir, which is a bit like Unobtanium from Avatar, just with a better name. It’s a rocky substance that’s incredibly volatile but creates energy needed for life and growth. Above ground, the two brothers were separated when a kaiju attacked. Thinking the other dead, Zedo went back underground, and Gogi met a peaceful group of people who were managing to survive above ground. Cut to a year later and wheeling back around.

While, logistically, the jump to a year later makes perfect sense story-wise, the execution allows the emotional resonance of the divergent storylines to wobble a bit. Seeing the end result of where these characters are and watching that play out, especially in such a straightforward way, there’s a predictability - the surprise isn’t there, and the impact is lessened.

There is something that happens in some of my favorite comic series, where the creators stop focusing on the story for an issue and instead shuffle the characters around like chess pieces. I haven’t coined a phrase for this yet, but I feel like an issue focused mainly on this was needed, instead of pressing directly to the next story beat. I feel like it could have marinated in the last major twist for an issue… allowed itself to breath a little… the characters to settle into their new realities, who they were becoming before being thrown back together… (Nope, still no phrase to coin.), because if the twist in this beat wasn’t going to be surprising, it needed something to make it resonate more. It also meant that the characters threatened to become somewhat cartoonish versions of themselves.

Otherwise, the book is still wonderful. The art is beautiful. The writing in general is really strong, and I can’t wait for the next issue.

One thing Carlos and Miguel Valderrama have done to enhance the experience is by creating playlists for each issue on Carlos’ account. Scroll down to his playlist and listen to the music as the story unfolds. It’s beautiful, otherworldly, intense, and melancholy.

Creative Team: Carlos and Miguel Valderrama (story, art, lettering), Ethan Kimberling (designer), Randy Stradley (editor), Christianne Goudreau (Digital Art Technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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