Holiday Gift Bag: I Kill Giants

We’re getting closer to wrapping up our annual crop of comics gift recommendations. Today, we’re going to talk about I Kill Giants.

This was originally a seven-issue miniseries by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura, published by Image Comics back in 2008. I got the first issue of this when it first came out but never ended up getting anything after that. I used to regret that, but I’m actually happy about it now, because I think this story works best as a stand-alone graphic novel, rather than as a series of individual comics.

The story focuses on an eccentric but whip-smart fifth grader named Barbara Thorson. She really is a glorious character — she’s terrifically smart, she’s got a smart mouth that can cut you to shreds from 50 yards, she’s an awesome D&D dungeon master, she knows more than anyone her age should know about obscure baseball trivia, she loves to wear weird animal-ear headgear, and possibly unsurprisingly, she has almost no friends. She lives at home with her older brother and sister, who does most of the work to keep the family going, as their father left the family and their mom is mysteriously absentee.

And Barbara sees fairies and monsters everywhere, tells everyone that she fights and kills giants, and has forebodings of titanic monsters on the way to destroy everyone around her.

Yes, maybe Barbara is a bit more than merely eccentric.

I’d love to tell you more about the story, about her mighty weapon Coveleski, about the secrets in her life, hiding in the upper floors of her house, about the terrors Barbara has to face. But I can’t do it, because there is so much glory in discovering these things for yourself while reading it.

Joe Kelly’s writing is entirely masterful. Killer dialogue and excellent characterization — seriously, you will love the heck out of Barbara even while you’re wishing you could take a switch to her. The plot builds slow, with more and more pressure stacking up. Niimura’s art is pretty amazing. It’s cartoony — almost sketchy — but it’s vastly eloquent at expressing emotion and action and mood.

The ending of this story is going to leave you terrified and breathless and maybe sad, for all the right reasons. It’s one of the few comics out there that gets me choked up every time I read it.

If you haven’t read it, you should read it. If you already have read it, you should get it for someone else and pass the joy along. The trade paperback will cost you less than $20.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura. Go pick it up.


  1. Farouk Said,

    March 24, 2013 @ 9:12 am

    Thanks for the review!
    I now want to get this graphic novel!!
    In comixology, they sell it as 7 separate issues, but I guess I can read all of them at once as I would read a graphic novel.

  2. scottslemmons Said,

    March 24, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    I hope you like it as much as I did, Farouk! 🙂