Can I just take a moment to reflect on how rare it is to find a book that consistently brings me joy. I don't mean a perfect book (those are rare too) but one that is somehow joyful the first to the final page. Despite loving comics, I find my default reaction to them is ambivalence, and even the books I do like can sometimes become a chore as the issues go on. Loyal readers (who may or may not be imaginary) will remember that I wasn't thrilled with the last couple of Giant Days issues. As such, it pleases me to say that Giant Days #18 reminded me why I like the book so much in the first place. John Allison's series pairs confident wit with an excellent ensemble cast as he once again allows his characters to bounce off of each other in a manner that is energetic but never frenetic.
Issue 18 has a looser story than the previous two issues, centering a variety of small plots around the central theme of the last days of school and the impending demolition of the old student dorms (Daisy dejectedly notes that 'living in a 1970s-style youth prison made her a better person'). Esther and Ed are still trying to figure out the legal ramifications of being involved with a essay-fabrication scheme. Wisely, they choose to involve resident crime expert Susan who takes them to a 24-hour law office that would make Saul Goodman proud. This plotline wisely plunges fully into its own ridiculousness, ending, somehow, with an absurdly overblown press conference by the schemes original culprit.
Meanwhile Daisy comes to terms with the end of a school year and the emotions tied up in such things by having a good mope (a method I use on a daily basis). Having just enjoyed 17 issues of school adventures, one can't help but get on board with Daisy's anxiety about saying goodbye, even if it's just for a little while. And on the outskirts of these two main points, the characters interact with each other with the fast-paced patter that defines the book's sense of humor. Special mention goes to a scene that has Daisy and McGraw playing billiards. As far as I can remember those two have never shared a scene, but it's credit to the strength of the characters that they immediately appear to have a warm, familiar chemistry.
Issue 18 also raises my estimation of the work of Max Sarin. While I have been indifferent to some of her cartooning in the past, I'm starting to warm up to Sarin's style, which can be whimsical and energetic. I still don't like all of the facial expressions (which can come off as over simplified and over-exaggerated in equal parts), but Sarin has a grasp of comedic body language that brings a lot of life to the proceedings. One moment sees the three main characters stop mid-dance when the music is turned off and displays three entirely different, hilariously awkward dance poses.
Nothing makes me happier than to see a book I thought was slipping have a strong issue (and it doesn't always happen, see this week's Batman review). Giant Days #18 is a delight from start to finish, and, most importantly, promises more of the same going forward.
[su_box title="Score: 4/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Giant Days #18
Writers: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Colorist: Whitney Cogar
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital