Jason Howard’s new creator owned series Big Girls starts with a bang, both in the metaphorical sense and as a jaw-dropping narrative point. It’s in this moment that the high-concept sci-fi tale cements itself as a story where anything can happen and the reader will always be left guessing. Too often comics storytelling relies on the simple tropes we know, the set-up of a big bad or a world that feels familiar. Even when deconstructing those tropes comics can get lost in the swamp. With Big Girls #1 Howard has made a point to deliver a world that feels fresh while also flipping the script on comic characteristics, and making sure to paint an explicitly political stance.
In the world of Big Girls, the world is in a post-cataclysmic state as a virus renders some men into giant uncontrollable beasts hellbent on destruction. The same virus causes women to grow to extreme heights. Enter Ember, one of the “Big Girls” that works to keep the streets of The Preserve safe from the “Jacks” of the world. It’s like a grounded version of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman with a shot of John Wick and Pacific Rim.
Clear from the first page is Howard's command of this world—striking an awe-inspiring presence on the page. The destruction of modern city life is given an explosive send off quickly in order to establish a dystopian society where pregnancy is given further medical scrutiny to prevent the birth of more monsters. Howard has crafted a self-contained story here in the first issue that gives readers everything they need to know about the world, Ember, and her place in it. It’s masterfully succinct and quick witted throughout, the sign of an artist that has developed his concept to a T.
It makes sense why Howard would choose to create this world for himself to explore because the best pieces of his artwork come from grand depictions of its giant lead and her equally-giant antagonists. The monster bashing may only be one segment of the overall appeal of Big Girls but it’s a primary reason why it looks so great. Minor details of a kaiju battle in a major city look amazing as buses fly, bridges fall, and the tituler "Big Girl" helps regular-sized citizens escape the chaos. Folks, it’s a hoot.
Talking Big Girls and not digging into its politics would do a disservice to it, as there’s literally a splash page with the line: “Not to point fingers, but there’s no more arguing about what’s wrong with the world. It’s men.” The series draws a clear line in the sand with its monstrous males, and the above excerpt could be the line that ruffles some feathers, but the nuance given to its lead character’s feelings, how her world reacts to this male aggression, and the development of its antagonists (who are not solely men!) has delivered a fully realized world with something to say.
What makes Big Girls so effective as a first issue is that there’s nothing in it that isn’t been fully formed from creator Jason Howard. The details and minutia give it life when the action is waiting in the wings, while its splash pages have clear movement and one of the most unique monsters on the page. Overall, it’s the surprises in its storytelling that make this a must read, its characters will keep you on your toes and you never know what the next page will bring.
Published by Image Comics
On August 12, 2020
Written by Jason Howard
Art by Jason Howard
Colors by Jason Howard0comments
Letters by Fonografiks
Cover by Jason Howard