Chris Giarrusso should be a familiar name to Marvel fans. He’s the genius behind that four panel filler Mini Marvels portraying the Marvel characters as middle schoolers.
Over at Image he created G-Man, which was similar to his Mighty Marvels. It started out as “Comic Bits,” a back up feature for Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon at Image. According to Giarrusso he’s often mistaken for Chris Eliopoulos who “used to do a comic strip back-up in SAVAGE DRAGON called DESPERATE TIMES. I currently do a comic strip back-up in SAVAGE DRAGON called COMIC BITS. To most SAVAGE DRAGON readers, the transition was seamless because no transition was even registered by the fans at all! A quick look in the back of SAVAGE DRAGON and one can easily confirm, ‘yep, that Chris guy’s drawin’ them comic strips still.’” See his blog over at http://www.chrisgcomics.com/civil-wards/
G-Man tells the story of middle-school superhero kids. Giarusso has produced a number of volumes and since there is no continuity issues, any volume would be a great introduction.
The first volume in the series, “Learning to Fly,” introduces G-Man, his older brother Great Man and their various superpowered friends. The first story in the book is 38 pages, which describes how G-Man and his brother learned to fly. Unfortunately, the son of the hero Captain Thunderman, who is a bully, refuses to let the other kids fly. Giarrusso brings the story to a funny conclusion.
The rest of the book consists of single-page stories, two to four page stories and a very amusing “Crisis of the Infinite Earths” parody.
Where the Franklin Richard stories (by that other Chris) were a great homage to Calvin & Hobbes, G-Man has more in common with Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce. Like Nate, G-Man has to navigate the middle schooler’s world. Although, some of their problems might be similar the solutions are not. In a Nate-like strip, G-Man forgot to do his summer reading as did his friend, speedster Sparky. G-Man feels relieved, as “at least I know I’m not the only person who didn’t do the reading.” In the next panel, Sparky reads the entire book. Buoyed by the thought that the teacher will never ask about the reading on the first day of school he innocently walks into class only to have to write an essay about the book. Where Nate would make some comment about his evil teacher, Giarusso solves the problem by having Sparky, in the blink of an eye, write the essay for G-Man.
In another story, Great Man tells G-Man, in typical Older Brother fashion that “Your costume sucks” and proceeds to extol the virtues of his costume. G-Man leave and returns dressed identical to his brother, who responds with “Why do you have to copy everything I do?”
Later G-Man has an unfortunate encounter with the Savage Dragon, unfortunate for Dragon that is. Then there is story of G-Man’s Christmas tree coming to life, wreaking havoc and stealing his father’s car. The insurance adjuster disclaims coverage as an act of God, because the car was stolen by a tree and only God can make a tree.
The essence of Giarrusso’s work is his gentle humor in which nothing really bad happens and the villains not really all that evil. He walks that fine line between tell a simple story and telling a simplistic story. As a result G-Man is easily enjoyed by adults, teenagers or tweens. This is good comic fun, easy on the eyes and mind. Pick up a copy and if you have tween, sit back and read it together.