“I find giants. I hunt giants. I kill giants.” Barbara’s not your typical kid. She thinks that in a world of mundane attitudes and facts, she’s the savior a world unseen to our eyes needs.
Chapter 1 – “The Hammer”
I Kill Giants is an original comic series from back in 2008 and is written by Joe Kelly and drawn by JM Ken Niimura. Kelly is an American comic writer who has worked on a wide variety of things ranging from Daredevil to the Justice League and more. Ken Niimura is a Japanese-Spanish artist known mostly for his indie work in the past. This interesting duo bring together a very unique first issue into a series many people seem to love.
Barbara’s not your typical kid. She’s growing up, but whereas all her friends have long since given up on their delusions of grandeur, she still revels in them. She believes herself to be a giant killer and nonchalantly explains that she “kills giants” when asked what makes her life so good. And she seems to really believe this.
Despite being picked on and having no friends, Barbara doesn’t back down from what she believes: there’s a world out there more amazing than anyone can imagine and she’s the only one who can see it. This also means she’s the only one that can protect it. We don’t see a lot of this world in the first issue, mostly her explanations before the final pages allow us to see the world through her eyes.
As fun as that sounds, this issue doesn’t waste time in making the reader question what’s going on here. It’s pretty obvious that the world she sees is likely nothing more than her imagination. She’s imagining this amazing world and this great career as a giant killer because she wants to escape her own life, which she seems to hate. Barbara’s mother isn’t around and she’s got an annoying brother and a sister who tries to play mother but isn’t yet mature enough to be the mother figure Barbara needs. I’ve got a hunch that this is the core of all her problems – she seems very annoyed when other kids mention their mothers.
To escape this life, Barbara imagines herself as something greater, something that allows her to look down upon the people around her. Since I’ve only just read the first issue, it’s difficult to discern why she might be doing this, but I’ve got a hunch. I think Barbara’s afraid of having a mundane life. She wants to see herself as better than the people around her, she wants to look down on them so she doesn’t have to admit to herself that she’s one of them. Having no friends and being picked on is also part of this. She deems herself misunderstood and feels as if she has to talk down to other people who just don’t understand what’s going on in her world.
Thus far, I Kill Giants, despite the title, is not an action-packed comic, but it’s a very interesting one to read. It’s pretty clear that we’re not supposed to fully believe the delusions Barbara has about her own life, so we’re watching this through the lens of someone having already grown up, who can maybe empathize with what she’s gone through in her life. And, you feel bad for what she’s going through. Her life doesn’t seem terrible, but it’s obviously not the life she wants and she’s having trouble dealing with that, so much so that she needs to dive into a world of fantasy to believe she’s something greater than just an ordinary child.
The art in the series is much more stylistic than anything done with the main Marvel and DC titles. Which isn’t to say it’s any better or worse, it’s just different. You’ll immediately notice that the series skews for a different feel than those other comics, which often go for that realistic look. To go along with its story, I Kill Giants features a gray scale painted world that accurately portrays the mundane view our main character, Barbara Thornson, has of the world around her. The line work itself seems very unpolished throughout most of the comic. I want to say that this is maybe Niimura’s way of showing us what the world feels like to Barbara. It’s a dim world, missing something that no one else but she can see. Seeing her imagination come to play is also a lot of fun, especially in that final page. It feels so dreamlike and other worldly.
I Kill Giants looks like it’s going to be blast to read. It’s an examination of the world a child sees, and not just any child. Barbara isn’t your typical spoiled kid, she’s really missing out on something in her life. She has no one to form a special relationship with and grow close to, she’s the outsider in a world that doesn’t want to step beyond their box. At least that’s the way she sees it. I highly recommend giving the first issue of this series a shot, it’s compelling and a ton of fun to read, offering multiple layers of enjoyment.