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Holiday Wish List: ‘I Kill Giants’ Titan Edition

In comics, lightning strikes twice. Three times, if you’re lucky. Last year, Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura released “I Kill Giants,” a seven-issue Image miniseries about Barbara Thorson. If you missed it, you could’ve had a good day this past May, when the collection was released at a very reasonable sixteen bucks.

If you missed that… I just want to say that I understand that we all make mistakes. And recently, you got yet another chance to fix that mistake, when the series returned in the deluxe hardcover “I Kill Giants Titan Edition,” just in time for the holiday gift season.

Barbara Thorson, the heroine of “I Kill Giants,” is a giant killer. She’s good at it, too. She knows all about weapons, runes, and spells. She can tell when a giant is coming, and she rarely has trouble putting them down for the count. She’s an expert, you see.

The rub is that no one else can see these giants. To everyone at school, she’s just the little nerdy girl with the bad attitude. To her older sister, who is taking care of her, she’s a brat. To her friends, she’s cool — up to a point.

It would be easy to assume that “I Kill Giants” is young adult lit. It could be all about a little girl saving the world from invisible giants. But no, it really isn’t. It’s about a little girl struggling with something that is entirely too huge for her to understand. The giants are her coping mechanism, the thing that allows her to deal with something she is 100% not ready for.

And she’s a great character, set apart from the cast by her weird headgear and quiet obsession with the giants, quirky and weird in a world that is otherwise very mundane. But despite her flights of fancy, she’s believable. She reacts to familiar situations and events like we would if we were in her shoes. And when the story turns and everything is laid bare, we see Barbara become something wonderful.

I don’t want to ruin exactly what Barbara is fighting against; it’s one of those twists that careful readers can pick up on a few chapters in, but the secret is revealed in an extremely powerful moment partway through the series. It’s one of those books you pick up, read, and immediately want to give to somebody so that they can see how good it is. It’s also one of the absolute best comics last year, and one that inspires genuine emotion, rather than simply telling you what you should feel. Give it a try. Just keep a box of Kleenex nearby.

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