Best Shots Review: GIANT-MAN #1 'Big Side-Story Fun' (8/10)

Giant-Man #1
Credit: Dale Keown (Marvel Comics)
Giant-Man #1 cover
Giant-Man #1 cover
Credit: Woo Cheol (Marvel Comics)

Giant-Man #1
Written by Leah Williams
Art by Marco Castiello and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Lady Freyja needs “A Few Giant Men” in the debut of Giant-Man from rising star Leah Williams. Set shortly after the events of The War of the Realms #2, the grieving mother has assembled a very specific team for a very primal reason: revenge. By gathering Scott Lang’/Ant-Man and a few others, she hopes her team of “giants” can infiltrate Laufey’s kingdom and bring it down from within in retaliation for her son Loki’s death. Tempering the stakes with heart with humor, writer Leah Williams delivers am wholly engaging showcase for Marvel’s incredible shrinking (and “embiggening”) men. Aided along the way with sketchy, but expressive artwork from Marco Castiello and Rachelle Rosenberg, event tie-ins are always a coin flip, but if you like a bigger boy or rousing men-on-a-mission stories, Giant-Man #1 is well worth your attention.

Credit: Marco Castiello (Marvel Comics)

The War of the Realms is in full swing and Scott Lang just wants some sleep. Having bunked up in the trunk of a tree, away from the main battles, on his way to find Cassie. But “side quests” are the order of the day for Leah Williams, as she lays out the premise in a plotty opening. These first few pages are admittedly the weakest, but Williams lays the stakes out well here. While Freyja is appealing to Scott as a parent, she makes no bones about how dangerous this mission is - the second they are discovered, they could be enslaved or killed. Worse still, they have no backup, and won’t until the “War” is over. (And that’s to say nothing of the internal strife between the team Williams introduces later.) It takes a bit for Williams to get there in this opening, but she and Castiello lean into the emotions of a grieving mother. Castiello and Rosenberg’s Freyja is tear-streaked and boiling mad over the loss of her son Loki, barely keeping his decorum as she offers the mission to Scott. A marked, but intriguing change from the Freyja we know.

Credit: Marco Castiello (Marvel Comics)

That same emotion carries over to the team of would-be “Frost Giants” themselves. Scott and the rest of his team, including new Giant-Man Raz Malhotra, Atlas, and Goliath II (Tom Foster), don Frost Giant disguises and have to maintain a height of 65 feet in order to make their way across the occupied territory. Williams then sweetens the pot by giving everyone distinctly fun personalities and goals beyond the main mission. Through the quippy dialogue and consistently self-aware narration captions, Williams nails the “man-on-a-mission” drama and tension behind enemy lines. After they make the border, the real tension starts to set in, as Goliath reveals a dangerous sense of inadequacy in the shadow of his famous uncle. This leads to him going off mission and threatening their cover. This kind of moral hiccup works well with stories set behind “enemy lines”, but it feels more personal here, keeping it in line with the personal stakes of the main mission.

Beyond the expressiveness artists Marco Castiello and Rachelle Rosenberg bring to this debut, everybody also has a fun sense of scale. Though we usually get more shrinking action, Castiello works more in the larger side of things to great success, delivering both comedic beats and action. For example, before they prepare to head out, our leads have a frank discussion about everyone’s *ahem* size, trying to assess who can get to what height. As our team discusses, they spring up in size, both in full lighting and in silhouette in order to really sell the scale of the characters going forward. Readers who appreciate scale will also appreciate this sort of orientation scene.

Credit: Marco Castiello (Marvel Comics)

But the creative team really impresses later on, during the aforementioned market action scene. After being discovered trying to free some enslaved humans, the team has to beat a quick retreat, loping over the rooftops and then eventually shrinking and hiding on top of Giant-Man Raz, the only member of the team who kept up with cardio necessary to being a superhero. This might sound like just a run-of-the-mill chase scene, but the art team commit to their scaling, staging the size of the characters in the scene like a footrace between kaiju rather than just some costumed guys fighting monsters. It has comedic beats, but it is a surprisingly tense sequence, which falls in line nicely with Williams’ opening. Freyja told Lang this quest would be dangerous, and this debut is very committed to proving her right, all the way down to its claustrophobic cliffhanger.

Armed with a neat adventure hook and fan-favorite Ant-Men in starring roles, Giant-Man #1 is a worthy tie-in title. While a little top-heavy with the opening scene, Leah Williams again impresses in a larger sandbox, bringing her sense of wit and action to the life of Scott Lang and finding it a great match. Marco Castiello and Rachelle Rosenberg are also in on the joke, delivering (literally) towering action and personable artwork. As the War of the Realms rages, Giant-Man #1 delivers big side-story fun.

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