By Ben Boruff
A couple years ago, I picked up a copy of Red Giant at a local comic book store in Bloomington, Indiana. Today, I write this review.
Some stories linger. When I first saw Up in the Air, the 2009 Best Picture nominee starring George Clooney and Anna Kendrick, I thought the movie was a subpar commentary on modern business. Anna Kendrick’s character seemed like a caricature of a Digital Age yuppie, and George Clooney’s aggressive melancholy annoyed me. But the movie loitered in my mind for years. Every time I considered canceling plans with friends, I heard George Clooney’s admonitory voice in my head. “Life's better with company,” he would say, and then I would reluctantly text happy emojis to my friends.
I cannot get Red Giant out of my head.
In the first issue of Red Giant, a Byronic hero called the Baron decides to kill the Red Giant, an oversized, spherical bird. Described as a “pulp ephemeralist tale,” the comic moves quickly, offering minimal exposition and dialogue. Most of the plot is communicated through soliloquies and gritty artwork.
According to his website, writer and artist Rich Foster is an engineer and game designer, and Red Giant benefits from those talents. One page features the detailed design of an “outerland transport” vehicle (including its “Trepidation Chamber” and “very big tires”), and another page is filled with the inner workings of Green Bunny, a Frankensteinian rabbit that is described as a “trans-dimensional psychic shield.”
Red Giant is a tribute to absurdism. Like the third season of MTV’s Awkward, this comic chronicles the actions of a self-centered protagonist who pursues an ultimately unreachable goal at the expense of the protagonist’s humanity. The Baron’s tunnel-visioned hunt for the Red Giant costs other characters their lives. The Baron is a shaggy-haired blend of Daniel Plainview and Steve Zissou, and he has the confused intensity of Michael Keaton’s character from Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman. Like Kanye West, the Baron is not afraid to alienate those around him, favoring conviction over friendship—even if that conviction is misguided. What makes the Baron unique, however, is the simplicity and absurdity of his failure.
I do not know why my mind often revisits the pages of this comic. Maybe I identify with the Baron’s single-minded pursuit of lasting recognition. Maybe I wonder if my dreams are Red Giants, unattainable and empty. Maybe, on some level, I perceive the impossibility of meaning. Whatever the reason, I choose to read the first issue of Red Giant as a cautionary tale: Regardless of their intrinsic value, my dreams are ultimately worthless if I must hurt everyone to achieve them. Even if the Baron had achieved his goal, he still would have ended his story alone on a mountain covered with snow.
Red Giant #1
Writer/Artist: Rich Foster
Publisher: Rich Foster Comics
Website Comic are currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area. An online shop will be opened soon. Questions can be directed to Rich Foster Comics at firstname.lastname@example.org.