Good morning everyone,
Today’s review will cover a mainstream comic book produced by Image Comics under the title “Big Girls.” It was drawn and written by artist Jason Howard, with the lettering done by Fonografiks. Jason also worked on “Astounding Wolf-Man,” “Cemetery Beach,” “Super Dinosaur,” and “Trees.” I *thought* that I had seen Jason Howard’s art in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, but searching online that doesn’t appear to be the case. Although, Jason did pen a tribute to Mike Mignola on the following cover:
Perhaps the reason I thought that Jason had drawn for Hellboy is that the monsters from the Hellboy universe and the ones from Big Girls looked similar. However, before discussing the monsters, let’s examine the basic premise. Also, keep in mind that this is aimed at teens; so, no giant hanky-panky within these pages!
The story takes place in a world in which a scientific experiment, involving “Behemic Research,” inadvertently created a pathogen that turns young boys into giant misshapen creatures. (NOTE: The intent behind the original experiment was not given beyond a token statement that “… the reasons behind big events are rarely known to the little people.”) These monsters are called “Jacks” and have a tendency to eat people. A very few number of girls also grow to 300 feet in height, but maintain their humanity. Those girls, the titular “Big Girls,” protect the last bastion of civilization, the “Preserve,” from the Jacks. Accordingly, the Big Girls have a slogan “We are the barrier. Nothing gets by.” which I liked.
As previously mentioned, the conceit is that this world is separated into the Preserve and an ill-defined area outside of the Preserve. (NOTE: Folks can read the first issue for free at the following link: https://imagecomics.com/read/big-girls) It wasn’t stated if other protected settlements existed in the world. Life outside the Preserve sucks, but apparently other countries do not exist in this universe. If other countries *did* exist then presumably people would try to move to those countries given that it was dangerous to live on the farms and devastated urban areas outside the Preserve. Assuming that the Preserve was located in the United States then refugees could flee to Canada or Mexico, or go even further to places in Africa, Asia, Europe, etc. However, it seems that all of humanity lives in the Preserve or in the region adjacent to the Preserve. (NOTE: In that aspect, a lone city state surrounded by monsters, Big Girls resembles the “Attack on Titan” manga.)
Volume 1 consists of six issues, a total of 133 pages, and was released on March 24th, 2021. The last several pages consisted of cover artwork and a single variant cover drawn by Skottie Young. A complete story was told with a definite ending. Furthermore, a potential sequel hook was given. The narrative provided a satisfactory arc for the main character, Ember. I appreciated her progression and relationship with fellow Big Girl Apex. A third Big Girl, Devon, was also involved, but her character was not explored.
A blurb on the back cover states “Men are monsters destroying the world only girls can stop them. Big Girls!” However, that’s misleading. The Jacks have limited intelligence and while the extent of their ability to communicate and reason was a plot point they never demonstrated the level of intellectual development that one would expect from a fully-grown adult male.
Instead, the Jacks are initially treated by our heroines as only monsters, no more “men” than Godzilla or King Kong. So, if readers see that statement and expect battles between giant ladies and mutated men they will be disappointed. There are male antagonists and one man in particular fits the blurb well, but in general this comic is about girls fighting monsters with the minds of adolescents or angry babies.
On the topic of human antagonists, they were serviceable, but not great. They were given backstories and change over time, but their motivations were questionable. For instance, at one point a female villain kills a man with little provocation. She justifies her actions by saying that anything to protect those she cares about would be permissible, but in what way was the guy a threat? A counter argument could be that his knowledge of her actions could pose a threat if he told the authorities. But how much did he really know, who would he tell, and why would anyone believe him? The man was ranting about people invading his place and how many days were left until his birthday. He did not come across as a credible source of information. Thus, her rationale for killing him was dubious.
Additionally, the main male villain tries to kill someone that had previously worked for him. She disobeyed an order before he attacked her and he does state later on that the individual in question, along with others, was expendable. However, it felt like his behavioral change was rushed. This maybe the unavoidable result of a limited run and a corresponding need to wrap the narrative up quickly. On that note, to the best of my knowledge, Big Girls will not be continued and ends with Volume 1.
Regarding the art, it was pretty good. Although, there were a few panels in which human characters unexpectedly looked odd. Sometimes lower legs looked more like sticks than human limbs. For example:
(SIDE NOTE: Can someone explain the reference made by Ember in the dialogue above? She said that Dr. Slates was like one of the helicopters in King Kong. Yet, there were no helicopters in the first King Kong movie. The original King Kong was released in 1933. That was years before the first functional helicopter, the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, was built. Or did she mean that Slates was like one of the airplanes that shot King Kong off the Empire State Building? Alternatively, did she mean that Dr. Slates was like the helicopters in 1962’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla”? Those helicopters carried King Kong and dropped him on top of Godzilla.)
Still, most of the art was superb.
The nature of the pathogen and how it spread was also not fully explained and that was a misstep. For instance, my first thought was that the pathogen might spread to all of humanity and doom the entire species. After all, if every male child was to contract the disease and turn into monsters then eventually sexual reproduction would be impossible and mankind would die out! (NOTE: Assuming that cloning isn’t an option.) Instead, it seems that the pathogen only affected a small number of people and thus the threat was only from those who hide their affected offspring until they pose a danger to the community. Also, and particularly noticeable during this age of COVID-19 lockdown, no one takes precautions against spreading the pathogen. No one wears a face mask or practices decontamination techniques. The pathogen is apparently everywhere already.
Overall, I would have enjoyed more world building and consistent motivation for the bad guys. Nonetheless, this did explore the justifications used for violence and highlighted why we should question those justifications. Therefore, I liked Big Girls and recommend it.
That’s it for today folks, Thursday’s review will cover Butre3004’s “Supermodels Agency.” I placed that CGI comic on my Top Ten of 2020 and pledged to examine it in more depth at a later date. That date is nearly here and thus it’s about time to elaborate on why I put Supermodels Agency in the top ten. Until then, keep growing!
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