There are many comic books that focus around Super Heroes. They try to show us what extraordinary people with either extreme intellect, large amounts of money or supernatural abilities are capable of doing. They get us thinking and wondering about how cool it would be to have abilities and to be a super hero. But not all heroes wear capes, and not all heroes have abilities. Some, simply Kill Giants!
In the Image Comics graphic novel “I Kill Giants” by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura, we see a regular girl in a regular neighborhood, in a regular town, get thrust into an irregular position. And in her struggles and battles with the hand that she’s been dealt, she learns that she can kill giants.
Barbara is not a superhero. Barbara does not have a special ability or an extremely high intellect or billions of dollars. Barbara comes from a single-parent family, a family which is about to become a no-parent family. Barbara’s mother is terminally ill. To cope with this impending loss of her mother, Barbara sets out on a quest the weapons needed to slay a giant. A giant which would come for her mother. After making a new friend, who learns of her mother’s terminal condition from a bully who is set on destroying Barbara, Sophia inadvertently leads the bully to the one safe place in Barbara’s world. It is here, however, that a Titan appears. The moment that Barbara has been waiting for her entire life is upon her.
While fighting off this large enemy, refusing to let this giant claim her mother, she learns that the Titan is actually there for her, Barbara. In this moment of self-realization, Barbara comes to realize that she was letting her own giants get in the way of what is really important. Upon overcoming this giant, she learns a very valuable lesson: YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK. While trying to recover from her battle with the Titan, she learns “All things that live, die. This is why you must find joy in the living, while the time is your, and not fear the end. To deny this is to deny life. To fear this…is to fear life. But to embrace this…You are stronger than you think.”
She returns home and spends her moms last remaining days with her, loving her. She overcame her Titan. She defeated the monsters that long have tormented her. And when her mother finally succumbs to her fate, Barbara is prepared for it. She is stronger than she thinks. At the end of the story, she looks back at her Titan, still quite large but no longer threatening, and thanks him. And, while referencing her family, pulls her covers up over her in bed and says “We are stronger than we think”.
I give “I Kill Giants”, the graphic novel, Five Couch Cushions.