“Men are monsters destroying the world. Only girls can stop them. Big Girls.”
Well here we go with issue two of Jason Howard’s Big Girls. Prior to its release, many people were assuming that this would be some kind of man-hating CW-verse style issue of the week. Let me assure you however that this certainly isn’t the case. Issue one was fantastic as an opener, and I wanted to keep the hype alive by taking a look at issue two. If you’d like to see a review on issue one, please check out my prior review by CLICKING HERE.
Publisher: Image Comics
Story and Artwork: Jason Howard
Release Date: 16th September 2020
For those of you who haven’t read issue one, let me brief you on the key points of the series. Firstly, giant ill-tempered genetically mutated men, called Jacks, frequently raise their heads causing mass destruction in the city. Secondly, giant women, who currently are seen to have their faculties in check, are drafted by the military as a counter attack/defence strategy. And finally, the military have adopted a ‘no mercy, no respite’ mentality. Issue one saw a baby killed cold blood without them holding the executioner as the villain. So with that out of the way, let’s tackle issue two, shall we?
Issue two continues the rapid pace of the first by diving straight into the action and adding more Big Girls into the mix. Our star character Ember is joined by her mentor Apex and other allies in the fight against the Jacks. The action scenes go from strength to strength, building threat and reinforcing the military’s precision as well as their attitude. Having more Big Girls enter the fight helps escalate up the already full-on action scenes, and I absolutely love the designs of Jacks. Very Kaiju as you might expect, but they always seem to be just a little bit off balance, providing a solid contrast to our leading ladies.
My fear following issue one was that the story would find itself coming second to the action scenes. Issue one sprinkled a narrative between the high-impact action with some very important pay offs. Thankfully, this issue opens the door to a more expanded narrative. Our writer, Jason Howard, has really taken the time to align his comic book chakras into perfect harmony. For every time the action scenes take the focus, the comic also takes a moment to remind you why everything you are seeing is important to the overarching narrative.
A few weeks ago, I spoke of my disappointment with IDW’s Transformers versus The Terminator series. One of my key issue came from the scaling of the Terminator next to the significantly larger Transformers. In my review of issue three I described the Terminator as looking like a toddler telling their mother they wet the bed. Here however we have the best use of contrast scaling I have seen in comics since issue #51 of Aquaman (side note: Everyone needs to read more Aquaman). Post mission, the Big Girls need assessment and here we see some simple medicare scaled up to Big Girl proportions. The pulse-reading device with industrial cables partnered with the tiny people does a great job of selling just how large and threatening these Big Girls could be. Combine these with the landscape shots and really start to get true handle on the scale of the world Howard has created.
The art, to me, is a little polarising. I think for many other books the broad pencilled style would be horribly out of place, but the body proportions and the designs are stellar. I particularly love the tops of buildings during the combat scenes, each possessing a solid upper structure and giving the scene some real density during the thrashing. This pairs very well with the smoky collapse and the ensuing scenes of rubble and destruction. The world feels dynamic with the scenery undergoing changes throughout the course of the issues. I’m perhaps not a fan of the art style on the stationary people as much, but changing it would lose a lot of the signature look this outing has to offer. If you enjoyed movies like Pacific Rim or the anime/manga Claymore, this is exactly what you need to read next.
I also have to take a moment to challenge the “yes queen slay” vs “despicable male” tropes people had initially thought this story would encompass. Twitter in particular took the announcement of this story to be solely for the “woke” crowd. I mentioned earlier the approach to CW-Verse man-hating. Too many stories find themselves utilising the bad father, the overcompensating man or the power-hungry military leader tropes. These can be very lazy writing methods and have ruined many good stories. In Big Girls issue one we met High Marshal James Tannik. Now, I won’t claim he is a good man, certainly not after the actions in issue one, but he is a very justified man. All of his decisions made sense. He thinks practically and decisively. He is military through and through, but not cookie cutter in any way. He has so far been written very well on his own merits and not merely the man inserted to contrast effect of our kaiju sized Charlie’ Angels tribute act. This gives me a lot of faith in the longevity of this series, and I hope others see what I see.
The writer of this piece was: Mike Chandler
Mike Tweets from @mike_moans