Giantkiller #1 – 6 and Giantkiller A to Z: A Field Guide to Big Monsters
By Dan Brereton
Originally published by DC Comics, TPB published by Image Comics
Rating: Not Rated
In 1999 a mysterious event resulted in the eruption of the long dormant Mt. Diablo in the San Francisco valley. The enormous eruption wiped out several surrounding communities and what followed would wipe out even more. For reasons unknown the destruction and volcanic ash clouds would spread and change, becoming dangerously corrosive and toxic to human beings and from within this no-man’s land would come the giant monsters. Writer/artist Dan Brereton, creator of the The Nocturnals, brings us the tale of humanities only hope in it’s battle against the giant monsters Giantkiller.
Giantkiller has a very straightforward story, with the arrival of the giant monster comes the need to create weapons which can battle them. Sadly due to the corrosive nature of the environment following the initial volcanic eruption conventional arms don’t last long. So the US government turns to genetic engineering and attempts to create a super soldier using scavenged DNA from monster scales, blood and the like. The result is Yochu, aka. Jack, aka. Giantkiller. From there things unfold about how you’d expect them to as the series essentially boils down to Jack vs. the monsters. Unfortunately, while Jack is visually striking, he doesn’t have much a personality beyond hating the monsters. There’s some attempt to flesh him out a bit towards the end of the series as Brereton has Jack questioning what he’s doing and whether or not he should be killing creatures that he has more in common with than humanity, but it comes just a little too late to make him more than a cool looking, bad ass monster killer. Thankfully Jack’s not the only character and his co-star, Jill Sleet, makes up for Jack’s lack of a personality. Her story takes her from being a selfish rogue who only looks out for herself, to someone who finds something worth fighting for and hanging onto in this world thanks to her relationship with Jack. Furthermore it’s only through Jack’s relationship with Jill that he gains anything resembling a realistic motivation and sadly that only comes at the very end of the series.
The series is a love song to the monster movies of the 50s and 60s, both domestically and abroad and this is perhaps most noticeable in the series artwork. While Brereton’s style is a bit of an acquired taste and isn’t to everyone’s liking it works beautifully here. Several of the monster designs look like they walked off the set of a Tsuburaya production, while others bring to mind the works of Lovecraft, and yet another bares a striking resemblance to Vincent Price. Then of course you have Giantkiller himself, a remarkably memorable yet simple design, tall, pitch black with red bits here and there. Toss in a long tail that ends in a lobster claw and a few fins and tufts of hair and you’ve got one very cool looking character. It’s not all roses though and sadly the action scenes tend to be rather short and can feel stiff and awkward at times. At other times the artwork fails to convey the sense of speed, power and rage that some of the dialogue or captions attempt to convey. Still it’s hard to deny that this is some lovely eye candy and that’s highlighted in Giantkiller A to Z: A Field Guide to Big Monsters. The book was a supplement to the main series and it’s essentially an art gallery featuring 26 monsters, some of whom never appeared in the series itself, in full page art pieces from Brereton.
While it was far from perfect Giantkiller was still an incredibly fun and enjoyable read thanks to Brereton’s lovely looking artwork and what feels like a genuine enjoyment of the giant monster movie genre. The series was originally published by DC in 1999 and was collected in 2006 by Image Comics. The TPB includes the original series and field guide so there’s no worry about missing anything if you chose to grab the TPB instead of spending hours attempting to track down the single issues.