Mark Allen reviews Giant Days 2016 Holiday Special #1…
What if Susan, Esther, and Daisy hadn’t become friends on their first day of university?? The world as we know it would be completely different! Or at least…moderately different! It’s the darkest timeline for our favorite students. Daisy is an Enya-blasting hermit, Susan violently dislikes her, and Esther falls in with the awful League of Former Head Girls.
In superhero comics, when a “what if?” issue comes around it’s usually on the heels of a massive, nothing-will-ever-be-the-same-again event, and imagines what would have happened to the characters featured in said event if their world had become a dystopian wasteland or if they’d become villains instead of heroes.
For a somewhat more grounded book like Giant Days, however, the biggest “what if?” question doesn’t have quite the same world-shaking stakes, but is no less nerve-wracking to contemplate: What if the series leads Daisy, Esther and Susan had never become friends? This question is asked by a delirious cosmic entity named Day-Zee, who proceeds to show us a world where Esther is recruited into a snide, spiteful crew of posh sociopaths before she has a chance to befriend her new flatmates at the beginning of their university careers. This sets them on a downward spiral of loneliness, binge-drinking and – naturally – dubious choices in romantic partners.
Series writer and original Boom! Box series artist Lissa Treiman have a lot of fun with the premise, re-imagining the characters and their supporting cast as miserable shells of their former selves, but with enough of their trademark wit and charm that this alternate universe doesn’t seem completely without hope. It’s a chance for Allison to throw certain characters together that fans may have shipped (for better or worse) without jumping the shark or rocking the boat in the main series. That said, as far as canonical stories go, it’s hard to imagine Giant Days having a fanbase that would be outraged with the creators shaking things up a little bit. Unless they killed off Susan and Esther and rebooted Daisy as a remorseless killing machine, perhaps.
So the first Giant Days Holiday Special is a fun, breezy read, much like the regular series, and even includes a bizarre additional short (drawn by the more than capable Caanan Grall) that features characters fans of John Allison may recognise from his other work. It’s a weird little thing that isn’t quite as coherent or entertaining as the main story, but it’s upfront about its strangeness and doesn’t outstay its welcome. And in the end, isn’t that the least we can ask of anything?