Men are monsters. Literally. At least, they are in Image Comic’s new series Big Girls from Jason Howard (a name that, itself, can be taken very literally).
After a science experiment goes horribly wrong, men start mutating into giant, hulking beasts. The only way to stop them are the titular Big Girls–giant women who suffer from the same mutation but without the monstrous after-effects. We drop into the story after the mutation has changed the world forever, and humanity is contained to quarantine zones in order to keep the monsters out (oof … too soon)? In this first issue, we meet one of the Big Girls, Ember, as she is tracking a man acting very suspiciously by buying up more groceries than one man can eat (again … oof). As the ground team confronts the man, Ember is faced with a moral dilemma that comes with keeping humanity safe. And that’s before the giant monsters start breaking through the barrier.
Veteran comicbook artist Jason Howard flexes his writing muscles in the first comic written and drawn by him, with the lettering assist by Fonographics. Howard looks at some hot topics facing our present day–battle of the sexes, toxic masculinity, and, of course, quarantines–and runs with the literal interpretation of a lot of these concepts.
The idea behind the comicbook itself is borderline retread territory (see: TKO’s Eve of Extinction or, on the flip-side, Image’s Man-Eaters), but there’s enough going on here that makes it fresh and worth picking up the second issue. Where Extinction just turned all men into grotesque monsters, the virus of Big Girls seems to target men (called “Jacks”) who display “big, dumb aggression.” Metaphor for toxic masculinity, anyone? But where you think you’ve got the clear-cut answer figured out, Howard throws you for a loop by introducing moral grayness to the Big Girls’ quest by, shall we say, how humans have decided to nip the monsters in the bud. Ember is confronted with this, and we also see glimpses that not everyone in humanity is okay with this. By the end of the issue, we’re not entirely sure who the monsters are, and that’s a sign of a strong story.
Howard also presents his new story successfully where so many other number-one issues fail. We’re given enough info as to how we got where the story picks up (but not too much!), there’s a perfect balance of exposition and action, and we get the idea that more characters are to come but aren’t overwhelmed by a large cast right away. It’s a very readable first issue that you won’t soon forget.
Paired with the story is Howard’s incredible art. The sharp angles and scratched out lines set the mood perfectly for a post-apocalyptic story that features giant women battling monster-men. It’s just cartoonish enough to show you that the concept doesn’t take itself too seriously, but seriously enough. The muted color tones still allow the pinks, yellows, and purples to pop to make the action sequences all that more stunning.
Big Girls blends a dash of Attack on Titan with stories like Man-Eaters and Eve of Extinction while being wholly its own original concept. Fans of kaiju brawls and morally complicated stories alike can look up to Big Girls and know they’re in good hands … probably.