01 June 2013

G-Man, Come Home!

G-Man: Coming Home brings a lot of delights, but I found it less satisfying than G-Man: Cape Crisis. This book picks up just after the end of that previous volume when G-Man (Mikey) and his older brother Great Man (David) have regained the magic cape and belt that provided their powers. The world thinks of Great Man as dead, but that isn’t worrying him because it gets him out of the house.

One plotting problem for G-Man writer-artist Chris Giarrusso is evident on the back cover (visible by scrolling down on this page): he’s created a world that’s too fun for his heroes. Below portraits of the brothers is an assemblage of other characters with special powers. We see the boys’ five loyal buddies: Kid Thunder, Suntrooper Solazzo, Tan Man, Billy Demon, and Sparky. We see the seven Color Girls, who function as a single source of unfathomable energy and emotion (the way many middle-grade boys view girls). We see this world’s mightiest adult hero team: Racing Stripe, Miss Victory, Cool Wraps, Captain Thunderman, Lugg, Color Queen, and Suntrooper Captain Davis. Also on the scene but not shown are the boys’ mentor, wizard Glendolf, and the godlike creature they rescued in the last volume, Khrysomallos.

In sum, for something to threaten G-Man and Great Man in this volume, it would have to be tremendously powerful and/or to strip away those allies. The first bad guy (also shown on the back cover, the only antagonist there) has a giant robot. Well, in the first chapter he does. After the Color Girls bring him down, he has nothing on his side but a fake moustache.

The second antagonist is the head of the Suntroopers, upset that the boys’ magic cape and belt can negate his troops’ solar suits. The Suntroopers function in this universe like the Green Lantern Corps, a space-based patrol system. Everyone sees them as heroes. They would be a formidable enemy for G-Man and Great Man, except that, well, the boys’ cape and belt can negate the Suntroopers’ solar suits. Plus, the head of the force and his chosen deputies quickly come across as incompetent hotheads. There’s a moment at the end of chapter 3 when it appears Suntrooper Captain Davis will follow orders rather than protect the brothers, but otherwise that conflict, explained and re-explained, produces more parties at superhero headquarters than anxiety.

Furthermore, adults handle a lot of the major problem-solving in this book—often without even telling the kids. Almost needless to say, Suntrooper Captain Davis has a clever plan all along. “We didn’t have time to tell you the plan!” Captain Thunderman tells his son. Cool Wraps informs the brothers that he kept them “incapacitated so you wouldn’t accidentally give away the plan!” The result is less satisfying, as well as less nerve-wracking, than if the kids were on their own.

But then comes chapter 5, when G-Man and Great Man are on their own as their parents race off to the hospital to deliver their baby sibling. (No, David and Mikey didn’t see that coming, either.) This single issue has everything I love about G-Man: out-of-this-world plot twists, snarky humor, obdurate personalities, and family dynamics where no amount of friction can break the underlying bonds. The rest of G-Man: Coming Home has all that too, but not in such concentrated form.

No comments: