Giants are vermin, like rats or pigeons, only big, of course. Nine to twenty feet tall, and they come in all flavors…

Even worse, though…the worst of all, are Titans. These are the big guys. Like Greek myth stuff. Hearts of blackest opal. A laugh that can boil your blood in your body. Evey that make the sun go out.

Imagine that…something so horrible, the sun will not shine upon it.

Barbara Thorson, Issue #2

This was a book on my radar for a while, since I started working at a comic store in 2008. I told myself, “Some day, I’ll get around to it.”

Now I’m kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.

Barbara Thorson is a 5th grade girl perhaps a little too obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy. While the rest of the world looks at her like she’s a freak, Barbara knows a secret: Giants are real. And her job? She kills giants. However, as new-girl-at-school Sophia gets to know her new kind-of-friend, she discovers maybe Barbara isn’t being as honest as she admits. Giants aren’t real…right? And why won’t Barbara go upstairs in her house?

First off, overall, I loved this book. I have one minor nitpick, which I’ll discuss in a second, but the idea of using fantasy elements to explore human drama is something I’ve always loved when it’s done right. (see Bridge to Terabithia the book as a good example and Bridge to Terabithia the movie as a bad example.) Kelly’s writing is spot on and heartfelt while Nimura’s art is chaotic when it needs to be and soft, quiet when it needs to be…most of the time.

Yeah, while I loved Kelly’s Spider-Man stuff (my first exposure to his work) and Nimura is excellent at the fight sequences being absolutely brutal, there are moments when there’s perhaps a little too much happening on a page. Characters in the background will speak off-handed, as if someone else is there, and the art isn’t always clear at making that understandable. I get wanting things to feel like the real world but this book’s strongest points are when they zero in on the conversations between Barbara and Ms. Molle or Barbara and Sophia. The D&D session in the first issue is a good example of this not working, while any of the conversations between Barbara and Ms. Molle are wonderful examples of Kelly and Nimura clicking.

Are giants real? Well, the storytellers kind of leave it up to you, I think. Normally this bugs me, but when you finally learn why Barbara is the way she is, it doesn’t really matter. This book takes something raw, real, emotional, and breaks it down in the realm of fantasy. How do you handle absolute heartbreak when your mind simply cannot fathom what it’s about to lose?

You kill a giant.


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