Writer and artist Jason Howard (Trees) is back with a distinctly western-world take on Kaiju stories with “Big Girls” #1. The debut issue is packed with massive action, solid world-building, and enough political intrigue to make it as engaging to read as it is to marvel at.
“When men become giant monsters hellbent on destroying the world, only girls can stop them—BIG GIRLS. Meet Ember—she writes poetry, loves to read, and she’s a 300-foot-tall full-time monster killer! She and the other big girls are all that stand in the way of our world’s complete annihilation!”
Writing & Plot
The strongest storytelling aspect in “Big Girls” #1 is how deliberately Jason Howard presents the plot. The more boring expository reading on how the world ended up a giant-monster infested wasteland is cut up by fantastic turn-of-the-page reveals that work to really sell what this comic’s game is. The first time we meet Ember – the titular Big Girl – I audibly chuckled because of how simple and clever the reveal was. Much of Howards’s sensibilities about framing a narrative come from his work as an artist, but more on that later. This chapter also makes it a point to introduce the numerous complex motivations and conflicts within the small cast of primary characters. The troubling reality around the origin of Howard’s manmade Kaijus makes for what’s obviously going to be a compelling character drama in between all the gigantic punchouts. If there was any complaint to be had in regards to the writing, it would be about that noted expository narration. Again though, it’s so cleverly interwoven with the panel reveals and pacing that it’s basically a non-issue.
“Big Girls” #1 is a prime example of knowing how to utilize the comics medium for storytelling, as Jason Howard’s visual direction here is what makes this issue such a fun reading experience. The handling of the panel layouts and visual pacing makes this an exciting comic to flip through and be surprised by the numerous tun-of-the-page revelations Howard has to offer. One of the smartest moves in “Big Girls” is framing Ember and the various giant monsters from below, as a normal spectator would. This is a move common to giant monster movies, but seeing in in a comic where the reader can marvel at the illustrated scale of what’s happening on the panel is an excellent directing decision. Of course, none of this would mean anything if Howard’s art was no good, so it’s fortunate that he’s also talented with pencils and colors. The details and designs of the various characters, ruined environments, and lesion-covered monsters are polished and full of a kind of kinetic energy perfect for this kind of book. Howard’s crosshatch-heavy and textured work is reminiscent of the work of Cully Hamner or Sean Gordon Murphy, and it’s great art for this ruined-future action series. His colors dominate the pages with a use of eerie dark purple or pale green tones that work as a thematic blanket for different sequences. Jason Howard is a proven tour de force of comic talent, and his visual storytelling on this first issue is one more example of his know-how.
“Big Girls” #1 is a bracing good-time of a start to this giant monster-filled comic series. Jason Howard’s skills as both a writer and an artist allow him to craft a story that utilizes the comics medium’s ability to combine visual pacing with text narration. The use of massive turn-of-the-page reveals and cinematic direction, in combination with compelling plot and character work makes this first issue a very promising debut. Be sure to pick up “Big Girls” #1 from your local comic shop on August 12th!