G-Man: Learning to Fly, by Chris Giarrusso

It’s tricky to find good all-ages superhero comics that stand alone.  Many purporting to be kid-friendly still don’t quite get it– filling their pages with those excessively bulgy men and women who tend to solve problems by slamming each other through walls (or else, bereft of their ability to commit mayhem in the name of justice, they race around battling non-sentient menaces: natural disasters or general misunderstanding, waving a stern finger in rebuke).

Another subgenere of all ages super-types  parodies the titles of mainstream comics via cartoony caricatures of the heroes, usually morphed into kid bodies.  The pint-sized wisenheimers prank each other and behave as naughty brats, while sporting the powers of their grown counterparts.   These satirical stories work best if you already know the characters and the Universe of their storylines.  The japes and wisecracks tend to fall flat otherwise.

Chris Giarusso has penned a couple of this sort of book (Mini-Marvels, in the Marvel comics universe), and manages to wring a snicker out of  a well-read comics fan.   But the books don’t stand alone on their own merit.

By contrast  Giarusso’s superkid comic G-Man: Learning to Fly (Image Comics 2010, and the 2nd volume G-man: Cape Crisis ) not only stands alone, but flies around in giddy loop de loops divebombing the neighbors and chasing pigeons out of the sky.  Or something like that.

Airborne bullies, pesky super-powered older brothers  giving you grief all the time, the theft of your magic cape–  grade school hero G-Man has all the usual kid problems.  Still, he keeps a good attitude about it, rarely whining.  And more than anything he has a whole pack of good pals who are willing to help him out of a jam.

Giarrusso’s cartoony drawings are fresh and fun. Colors are bright and friendly, characters are humorous and credible despite, you know, costumes and superpowers.

Giarrusso has the timing and wit of a newspaper comic strip writer, but working without the restrictions of those tight 3-4 panels, he has room to string those jokes into an actual storyline, punctuating every page or so with a punchline, then taking the absurd premise of the punchline to initiate a new plot twist.

Giarusso clearly loves the superhero genre, and runs a few new interesting changes out of old tropes( the parallel universe conundrum, etc).   But one needn’t have read 30 years worth of comics to enjoy Mikey G ‘(G-Man’ to his pals) and the snarls and snafus he and the gang find themselves in.


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