It’s safe to say that most people act differently around their family versus their friends. This idea permeates an extra-sized, holiday cheer filled Giant Days #25 where writer John Allison, artists Max Sarin and Liz Fleming, and colorist Whitney Cogar take a break from the escapades of Daisy, Esther, and Susan to focus on Susan’s return home for the holidays. On top of her parents’ marital troubles, she has five older sisters, a gaggle of nieces and nephews, a very Greek grandmother, and possibly her ex-boyfriend McGraw to deal with. This makes for riveting and hilarious reading and also shows us a different side of the usually stolid, “friend mom” Susan Ptolemy.
Giant Days #25 solidifies Sarin and Fleming’s status as cartoonists of the eyes, especially the bright, shining, belongs-in-a-Magical-Girl-anime variety. They and Allison intersperse the comic with small flashbacks of Susan’s childhood where she was simultaneously shamed and spoiled as the youngest daughter. One thing that connects the past and present scenes are wide and bright eyes when something in keeping with “the Christmas spirit” happens. For example, young Susan is happy that she got an Easy Bake oven just like she’s happy when her long lost sister Ellie shows up at the Christmas to break the tension between her parents and be a buffer with her crying child and giant backpack.
The Ptolemy family gives the Tenenbaums a run for their money, and Allison, Sarin, Fleming take this dysfunctional dynamic to whatever the British equivalent of Fort Knox is and withdraw some comedy bullion. There’s the patheticness of Susan’s dad living out in his camper, eating food out of cans, shrugging and saying it’s just an “escape valve” while her mom spies at him with binoculars. They’ve been together for a long time and have had to parent six very different girls, and that takes a toll on a person. The reason that Mr. Ptolemy is living in his “caravan” is super hilarious though.
Geoffrey Ptolemy smoking alone outside is pretty sad, and Sarin and Fleming go for the feels again with Mrs. Ptolemy, who can’t hide her sad face as she laments the simpler Christmases of days past. Apparently, Mr. Ptolemy’s mom puts a lot of pressure on her to have the perfect holiday feast that can only happen when you bake until 4 AM with the help of your drunken daughter. There’s lots of hustle, bustle, and verbal sniping until you want to close the comic book and get away from it all like Susan and her Charmed binge watch. Susan is usually the boss when she’s with Esther and Daisy at university, but when she’s with her sisters, she’s the one who can’t get a word in edgewise and has to resort to random acts of adorableness (Like hanging mistletoe everywhere.) to get attention.
While building on her dad’s sorry plight in the previous, John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, and Whitney Cogar do something a little different with Giant Days #25 by looking at family drama instead of friendship from the POV of Susan Ptolemy. She cuts a heroic figure in trying to save her parents’ marriage, but solving other people’s problem doesn’t end her own, especially if they involve McGraw.
Story: John Allison Pencils: Max Sarin Inks: Liz Fleming Colors: Whitney Cogar
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review