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Cover to 'Giants' #1. Art by Miguel Valderrama/Dark Horse Comics

Cover to ‘Giants’ #1. Art by Miguel Valderrama/Dark Horse Comics

By Clyde Hall. A comet hurtles to Earth, and its impact prompts a nuclear winter solution to global warming and the decline of one dominant species in favor of another. This is the world presented by newcomers to the American comic scene, Carlos and Miguel Valderrama, in Giants #1 from Dark Horse Comics.

Instead of the cosmic event taking place 60 million years ago, though, it’s been less than a human lifespan, and resulted in a nightmare near-future. Humans are the dinosaurs here, facing extinction. And rising to reign over the frozen surface of our world are monsters; giant kaiju that dwarf the abandoned cityscapes, fight other giant monsters, and apparently make li’l giant monsters.

Mankind, meanwhile, has gone underground in search of more hospitable surroundings. But there are no subterranean military compounds or Pacific Rim mechs carrying the fight to the enemy. Any war against the giants was over long ago, and we lost. People are simply trying not to freeze to death while they CHUD out. They’ve formed gangs, all of which vie for resources, territory, and ambernoir, a potent fuel used like currency. As presented by Giants‘ creative team, man has inherited a bleak, brutal shadow realm.

Interior page from 'Giants' #1. Art by Miguel Valderrama/Dark Horse Comics

Interior page from ‘Giants’ #1. Art by Miguel Valderrama/Dark Horse Comics

It’s the only world young orphans Zedo and Gogi know. Their goal is survival, which means becoming members of the Bloodwolves gang by proving their worth. A ballsy scheme to do that very thing fails, though, and they’re offered a choice by the gang’s Prez: Be beaten to death as entertainment-slash-punishment, or agree to make a dangerous run topside in search of rich ambernoir deposits. Bring some back, they’re newly minted Bloodwolves. Fail, and they’re Bantha fodder.

It’s a solid way to start a title. A tale of ambition, but tweaked from the typical kaiju story where heroes overcome giant monsters to reclaim the planet. These survivors are only interested in improving their lot. The pace puts setting and society in order, with enough emphasis on fleshing out the heroes to make us care.

Artist Miguel Valderrama’s style seems a bit cute for youths clinging to life on a ragged Armageddon precipice. But his kaiju are fearsome beings, his action sequences are exciting, and he competently imparts the plot, which is the real force propelling Giants. As a team, the Brothers Valderrama work, and they work well in this clever, twisty retelling of our scariest bedtime stories — two Jacks out to plunder a beanstalk while confronted by Toho leviathans.

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Carlos Valderrama.

Illustrated by Miguel Valderrama.

7.5 out of 10

‘Giants’ #1 is in stores on December 13.