Being the younger child can be tough, and being the younger brother of a superhero isn’t much easier, especially when your older brother steals your idea. Chris Giarrusso’s G-Man tells the story of Mike and David G., two young superheroes. The all-ages comic cleverly combines brotherly antagonism with superpowers in a fun way, while building its own universe full of new characters and stories.
Volume 1, Learning to Fly, reads partially as an anthology, mixing new comics that tell the origins of Mike (who dubs himself G-Man) and his brother David (who dubs himself Great Man) and some additional adventures. These comics are interspersed with backups and crossovers from other comics like Savage Dragon and Skullboy of Jacob Chabot’s The Mighty Skullboy Army. The good thing however, is that those characters are treated like any of the other multitude of new characters introduced into the story, so continuity knowledge isn’t important.
The comic does a great job of making the first volume action packed. The volume one of G-Man is a decently large package for younger readers, filled with bullies, summer camp, mutant Christmas trees and alternate universes. There are a reasonable number of shots taken at mainstream titles, though they seem to be in the comic more for the older readers than for the younger ones. Complaints about being able to trust G-Man when he comes in with a new costume and general apathy about multiple copies of Earth showing up (it happens every decade or so according to one of the characters) might go over the heads of the younger readers, but that is part of what makes the book such an enjoyable all-ages title. Honestly, some of the best stories come from Mike and David’s Mean Brother/ Stupid Brother comics, which are journal comics written by each of the brothers re-telling the same event. There is a great payoff when the brothers visit an alternate universe and come face to face with copies of themselves that actually get along.
Artistically, while Giarrusso’s designs can be a bit too stoic at times, the cartoonishness of the characters works well for the story. Combined with the bright primary colors shared by most of the characters, the book feels energetic and exciting with lots of visual candy. Most panels follow the comic strip format, and while the art never exceeds the most basic of panel layouts for an all ages comic, it works well enough and does end up introducing a page that can be read in any order. My one fault with the book might be the size of some of the lettering which can be slightly cramped and might be problematic for younger readers, though Giarusso’s art serves to assist with the storytelling to make up for most of the problematic spots.
Overall, the book would best serve readers who are 6 to 12 years old. In addition, I’d recommend it for parents looking for something lighter for their kids to read, because while Mike and David aren’t perfect brothers, they are realistic ones, and that can be important too.