In this bold new world of Image, there is a whole host of stories that are designed to purely entertain. However, every once in a while there is a story that also makes you think. This time I’m reviewing a book that’s one part real-world psychological drama and one part far-flung fantasy. I’m talking about Joe Kelly’s and JM Ken Niimura’s epic story, I Kill Giants.
I Kill Giants belongs to a special sub-genre of fantasy. Much like Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, much of the fantastic events of this story seem to take place within the imagination of the main character, a young girl named Barbara Thorson. On the outside Barbara seems like a normal girl. She goes to school, lives at home with her siblings, and enjoys playing role-playing games in her spare time. She’s also quick-witted, sharp-tongued, and virtually fearless. The only thing that stands out about her is what she does with her spare time, which according to her is killing giants. Now as you can imagine, it’s easy for most adults and children to dismiss Barbara’s “profession” as a childhood fantasy, but as the story goes on the reader sees that to Barbara the giants are quite real, as well as the dangers they represent. Unlike Calvin and Hobbes, I Kill Giants isn’t something where you find yourself laughing out loud as you read, but it will be a story you’re unlikely to forget. Through Barbara Thorson’s eyes you get to see these nightmarish creatures larger than life and twice as ugly. JM Ken Niimura, who is responsible for the books astonishing artwork, renders these creatures in a way that makes it seem like they’ve emerged from your deepest nightmares. When you see these massive beings with bodies that look like they were made out of flesh, shadow and jagged rocks, odds are you’ll forget that it all came from the head of one little girl. If I Kill Giants proves anything, it’s that reality is what you make of it.
Aside from the fantastic art, remarkable characters, and thrilling action scenes, I Kill Giants also has its profound moments. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that there are a few reasons a child designs fantasies on this scale, and most of them aren’t pleasant. Sadly, there isn’t much more I can say about this book without giving out some serious spoilers, so I will leave you with these final words. It’s rare that you come across a story that feels real and at the same time impossible, and also makes you question the way you see the world. For me, I Kill Giants was one of those stories, and I thank Image for helping to bring it to the comic book community.