by Anthony Rosen
The shadow of a monstrous giant looms over a small rural town, lingering on in the stories told by the elders. A terror from days gone by, it crushed peasants, smashed houses, and ate little baby feet. Brave little Claudette hears these tales and decides that since no-one ever actually slayed the giant, she should take care of that herself. After promising her friends that all their wildest dreams will come true should they accompany her, they set out together for adventure.
Giants Beware! boasts a colorful cast, superb writing, fluid artwork and fistfuls of charm. It’s a book that revels in its good humor, wholesome fun, and honest characterization. All together it’s a terrific work with great qualities across the board, but it’s through the characters that the book really shines: Claudette with her unwavering bravery and zeal to become a great hero, Gaston with his dreams of opening the greatest bakery/armory in all the land and Marie with her prim and proper enthusiasm for princess training. And it’s not just the protagonists that stuck with me either. There are plenty of other characters to love: A blacksmith whose lack of limbs hardly prevents him from answering the call to adventure, a blustery mayor, the Monty-Python-esque villagers, a river king and a woods-witch. But to say too much about any of them would spoil half the fun of the book, which takes great joy in the way it handles the genre’s familiar way-posts.
They’re not only great twists on recognizable fantasy tropes though. They’re also familiar reminders of the warmth and humor we find in our favorite friends and family. That’s the best compliment I feel I can give this book. On the surface it’s all humorous, light-hearted excitement. But just underneath is an undercurrent of good-natured humanity that speaks to the adventure loving kid in all of us.
It’s also just good fun.
Not the two guns a’blazin, head a’sploding kind of fun some people retreat to comic books for, but the family friendly, Pixar-esque type of fun that has something for people of all ages. I can’t count the number of times I laughed out loud while reading this book, nor can I recall a book that made me wish for someone younger to share it with the way Giants Beware! did.
The book’s art is chock-full of color and movement that owes as much to Saturday morning cartoons as it does children's books. You can feel the warmth of the hearth in the Blacksmith’s forge, the terrifying darkness in the recesses of the forest, and the impending majesty and might of the rivers and mountains on the horizon. I especially loved the line work; the smooth transitions and movement between panels that switch from humor to lighthearted action without a misstep. It’s noted on the back cover that Rafael Rosado has a background in animation, and his blurb highlights his experience with storyboarding. You can definitely see that background shine through in these pages through the smooth motion and seamless transitions; it’s a book I could very easily see getting animated. There are also reminders of the feel and tone of Jeff Smith’s Bone in some of the character’s quirks and the humor itself. It’s a comparison that, I hope, speaks volumes about how enjoyable a read this was.
Really, I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed Giants Beware! I could go on and on about how the action and art mix perfectly or how there’s a fantastic sense of wonder and whimsy that’s matched tit for tat by the humor of the dialogue. It’s a great book worthy of the praise, but I’ll just end here by saying that you should probably just go buy it and leave it at that.
TL;DR: A book that everyone can enjoy, Giant’s Beware is a romp through a fantasy world full of humor and fun. If you’re a fan of comics, and especially if you have kids, do yourselves a favor and pick this up. (Editors Note: Also, THERE'S A PUG DOG.)
Giants Beware! is written by Jorge Aguirre and illustrated by Rafael Rosado. Published by First Second Books, it will be available everywhere 4/10. You can ask your local comic book shop to order it for you, or, support Spandexless by pre-ordering through our Amazon web store.
Anthony Rosen prides himself on two things: his beard and his comic book collection. He once ate a tablespoon of nutmeg on some bad advice from a friend. He hasn’t been the same since.