Written by Joe Kelly
Art by JM Kim Niimura
Collects I Kill Giants #1-7
I Kill Giants is about a elementary school girl named Barbara Thorson who is a self styled giant killer. Barbara is an eccentric character who may or may not be crazy. She's the "weird kid" at school that doesn't have any friends either. After all, she is a giant killer and says as much to her class in the very first issue.
Barbara does get a new friend, Sophia, early on and she becomes one of the other main characters Kelly uses in the story. Others include Barbara's older sister and her brother, the school psychologist, Mrs. Molle, and the school bully, Taylor. Kelly takes the time to give the characters some depth and motivation, especially Barbara, because, at it's heart, implied giant killing in the title aside, I Kill Giants is a character driven story at its heart.
As I said, given the title of the series, it is actually a relatively mundane story. But this is not to say boring either. There is a supernatural edge to the book, too, but the focus of the story is the characters and their troubles and interactions with each other, which is always a plus in my book. The characters should drive the story, not just be generic stage props reacting to situations thrust upon them.
Barbara, being the main character, is the center of the book and it revolves around her and her possible insanity and whether these giants she is killing are real or not. Kelly does a good job of making her appealing and engaging while slowly focusing more and more on the source of Barbara's obsession with giants and her possible insanity.
There is also a lot of drama (not to be confused with melodrama) in the book given Barbara's particular world view. Obviously, it is about the characters reacting to Barbara's peculiaritie. One of the strengths of the story is the cast of characters Barbara interacts with and their varying personalities. It keeps the book interesting since Kelly did a good job creating the characters so that there is always something interesting in their interactions with Barbara and none of these feel forced either. Even better is that they don't always have the same reaction to her, making the story that much more engaging and interesting.
As for the supernatural stuff, the best thing Kelly does with it is leave it vague. He never actually states one way or another whether or not Barbara is actually crazy. Throughout the story, there are things like fairies, omens and other such happenings that only Barbara sees and reacts to. Kelly does give hints as to whether or not they are real, but it is really left open for the reader to interpret as they see fit. They could be the product of an overactive imagination to one person, insanity to another or an actual threat that this little girl is forced to stop on our behalf. These and more are all viable and that is one thing I really enjoyed about the book.
Kelly does come close to making a clear distinction on that topic, but never comes out and directly says anything one way or the other though. In the end, Barbara does slay a giant, imaginary or not, which is what Kelly was working towards for the entire story. It is a very satisfying conclusion and it does a good job of retaining it's impact even after multiple rereadings.
The art by Niimura is wonderful and perfectly compliments Kelly's writing. Aside from his excellent story telling skills and ability to make the character emote, he manages to keep the supernatural elements as vague as Kelly does. He does so because his art looks like it's a series of sketches or a pseudo unfinished look but polished at the same time. It's hard to describe, but similar to the recent The Stuff of Legends #1. The art keeps the supernatural elements from sticking out while providing some wonderful detail for everything else. His art is also dynamic and provides nice amounts of energy to some of the key scenes. All around, his art is wonderful and an equal to Kelly's script.
Verdict - Must Read. A compelling character driven epic with depth that should appeal to anyone who enjoys great stories.
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