Friday, January 29, 2010
I’m perplexed as to how to give flesh and shape to what I felt after finishing I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura, but it certainly was something else entirely. I can’t imagine that there are the right words to fully relay what lies between those seven issues. On one hand I kept repeating ‘awesome’, for my lust for entertainment had been sated, and on the other this mini-series went past the barrier that marked me as a reader/consumer and punched me in the gut.
I Kill Giants is about Giant-slayer Barbara, a fifth-grader with a loud mouth and attitude that gets her in trouble more often than not, making her already unpleasant life more unenviable. Kelly hits the proverbial bull’s eye with a grenadier from 10 feet. An overstatement? Perhaps, but the story works without a glitch on levels plot and meaning. Kelly tells a story about a girl with problems in adolescence, which chooses fantasy over reality to cope with her problems. She sees signs in the clouds, talks with pixies and dwarves and she knows everything about giants, especially how to kill them. Barbara is a geek at heart with a burning passion for D&D and a social outcast, which is a result of her own behavior to a point.
You’ve seen this premise before: a young kid escapes from pain to a world, where he/she has control over the situation, which rarely [never] is the situation in reality. However, this is the very first time it worked. No, more than worked. It went over my senses like a speeding train. Reading these 210 pages combined, I felt the pain, the frustration, the fear and it was as if I had a cold stone drop inside my stomach. My childhood was no cool-aid commercial, family dynamics were never present and boy, was I the geeky one in school. The details certainly are not identical, but the fact remains that there is kinship between me and Barbara. And isn’t that the most important checkbox a work of fiction to fill?
Kelly attributes human relationships complexity, depth and power, which I seldom find in either novels or comic books. There are no cardboard characters here. There is nothing to make your eyes roll or snort or make you think ‘yeah, right’. What you find here is organic, concentrated suspension of disbelief. And trust me, for a minute, I couldn’t tell what was real from what was Barbara’s imagination and fantasy.
Uncharacteristically for me, I will conclude this review now, because the more I go into this the more I will spoil your own exploration. I believe that the joy from reading stems from the state of being overwhelmed by a work of fiction and with I Kill Giants, this is a must-have.