I Kill Giants – Comics Review

Thanks to a local librarian, I had the graphic novel I Kill Giants not only recommended to me, but handed to me to check out. I took my sweet time getting around to reading it, but once I got more than I little ways in I was hooked and had to finish it.

The main character is Barbara Thorson, a teenage D&D geek who is a vicious Dungeon Master. That alone is fantastic. However, for her, the fantastical worlds that she knows in D&D exist beyond the page: they permeate her everyday life. As far as she is concerned, she kills giants.

I Kill Giants

She fully believes it, and it gets her in trouble constantly. With teachers, principal, school counselor, and bullies. Oh, and family. Friends. Pretty much everyone. But as far as Barbara is concerned, it’s real, and as the perspective we follow in the comic, it’s true as far as we’re concerned as well – making this a fantastic fantastical romp! Oh, and heavily psychological, as well. Spoilers ahead for this award-winning indie comic!

We get some explanation into Barbara’s world through her becoming friends with the new girl, and so we get someone who is neither turned off by the oddness nor used to it. The other new person in Barbara’s life is the new school counselor, who is very good at her job. Not that with Barbara the job is easy, since she acknowledges that something is wrong – and that is that there are giants and they need killing.

Luckily, Barbara knows they are coming, and she is up to the task. Because she has a weapon, a hammer, forged from the bits of the first giant – Covaleski. She carries Covaleski with her and it is her prized possession. It’s also special and sacred and warded and should not be brought out for just any reason… as this great page shows (along with showing in general what the comic is like):

Two worlds

She got an “are we friends note” and was going to put it with her prized possessions… but no, she shouldn’t access the hammer. She actually pulls it out later to face a bully, and finds that it’s only a small hand-held hammer. What has happened to the magic hammer? Is it because she’s gotten it out for the wrong reasons – even as the bully destroys her giant traps and mocks her?

Part of what is great about this comic, much like the best episodes of Castle, is how it has this supernatural element and never fully confirming it or denying it. So are there giants? I mean, there was this Titan:

A Titan

She had been expecting a giant, things had been getting worse, and it arrived. In front of her friends and bullies and everyone. Good thing she has Covaleski!

Covaleski

The flip side of it all, the part that Barbara may be creating fantasy to deal with, is her dying mother. Cancer, a different sort of giant, has come for her – and Barbara wants nothing more than to be able to punch cancer in the face. She settles for giants.

I’ll leave off talking about the end, but the buildup and the climactic battle is all great. I definitely recommend this comic, as I absolutely loved it.

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