Trading Up: I Kill Giants

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What would you say to a story about a troubled little girl who sees fairies, is a ruthless D&D opponent, and carries around a heart shaped bag that houses Coveleski, the giant hammer capable of slaying mythical giants?

I Kill Giants, a graphic novel written by Joe Kelly with art by Ken Nimura, is all this and more. Barbara is the youngest in a family of four, sans parental figures. Her oldest sister struggles to keep everyone together and fed. This proves difficult because Barbara makes no secret of the fact that she is a Giant Killer. She tells anyone inquisitive enough that she’s been imbued with the certain skills and fortitude it takes to slay the beasts. If you don’t believe her, she’ll kick your ass.

As the reader, you’re never really let into the truth (until the end), whether Barbara is off her rocker, or if everyone else is just skeptical. To be honest, it never matters (until the end). The real story is of a socially inept girl meeting and making her first friend. We learn that Barbara uses her “imaginary” world as a shield against reality, which is an all too tragic and familiar one.

Joe Kelly, an accomplished writer as well as co-creator of the wildly popular Ben 10, paints a very distinct picture of his heroine. Barbara is strong despite her flaws and beyond her weaknesses. She is willing to throw herself onto and into anything she believes in, be it a reckless endeavor or not. As the story unfolds, it’s revealed that her rough edges have been made sharper by her need to protect herself and loved ones. She wants to feel useful in the face of impossibility.

Ken Nimura’s art style is one that I was not immediately attracted to. It is very sketchy and slightly manga-esque. After only a few pages, I could not imagine any other style to deliver this story. His loose pencils are tightly inked, which gives the events of the book real motion. The panels are filled with a kinetic energy that keeps your eyes moving in the right direction. He creates a balance between the outrageous and quiet moments, which makes them equally effective. This is a book with very large emotions on display. Both Kelly and Nimura nail them yet keep them tragically accessible. You really feel the end of this story.

I Kill Giants is a gateway book. For those of you that have friends and loved ones who dismiss comics as a childish medium or just about superheroes, this book is for them. This is the perfect example of an honest and heartfelt story that cannot be told the same way in any other form. 

It’s a perfect holiday gift with an emphasis on love, compassion, family, and bravery in the face of defeat. It’s a book you could give to anyone, of almost all ages, and have it affect them the same way.

Unless they house a cold and sullen chamber in their chests where the heart would normally reside…

The collected trade paperback of this seven-issue story is available now, recently reprinted after the initial run sold out. If you really want to go all out, there is a large format hardcover and an even more limited hardback, numbered and signed by the creative team. This is a very special book, elevated from the medium by its original and specific voice. It's a true find and a worthy gift.

I Kill GIants is available now from Image Comics starting at $15.99


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