How come we never talked about cute in my philosophy classes?
For years now, Marvel Comics has published backup stories in some of their comics called Mini Marvels. Chris Giarrusso writes and illustrates these backups, and has been doing strips and full page comics of these sort for Marvel since 1999. (Incidentally, you can click the above link to check out some of his very earliest strips from that time period) Just about every time a comic comes out with a Mini Marvels backup in it, our staff at the comic book shop stops everything to read them. Then we laugh hysterically and go back to work, smiling and a bit happier for it.
Now, Marvel has collected these Mini Marvels comics into one convenient digest. It’s adorable, it’s entertaining, and it’s funny, to boot. Sometimes, the comics are about younger, more innocent-minded versions of the familiar Marvel superheroes. Spider-Man delivers newspapers for the Daily Bugle, for example, instead of taking pictures. Venom is still Spider-Man’s enemy…but only in the sense that they’re competing newspaper delivery boys. (Also, Venom tends to say ‘I want to eat your brains’…in every single panel he’s in.) Other times, they’re willful parodies of ongoing, big Marvel events.
It’s the slight alterations Chris Giarrusso provides that make the Mini Marvels so adorable and at the same time such great, loving parody. In regular Marvel continuity, a top secret group of powerful superheroes called the Illuminati (named after the secret society) make the decision to send the Hulk into outer space. The Mini Marvels version of the Illuminati is the worst kept secret in history (they hold their meeting in Avengers kitchen), and Hawkeye continually refers to them as the Illuminators (even though he’s not supposed to know they exist). They ultimately make the decision to send the Hulk away because he eats Namor’s sandwich.
There are a lot of inside jokes, naturally, and a lot of references to Marvel stuff in the background that will make you smile. But the book works so well because it doesn’t rely on continuity. The jokes work because they’re just funny. The art carries the book, and Giarrusso works a lot of funny into every single panel.
This book doesn’t collect every single Mini Marvels comic. In fact, there’s quite a bit of stuff left out. But everything in this particular volume was written and drawn by Chris Giarrusso, and I wonder if the plan might be to release another volume later with the stuff that others did the writing chores on. I hope so! In particular, the Civil Wards story that Marc Sumerak wrote was a standout.
Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors is a no-brainer. If you like smiling, you should buy this book. It’s so much fun, I’m sure I’ll lend it to just about everyone I know, and they’ll all get a kick out of it. And you will too. Highly, highly recommended.
My favorite part:
3-D Man shows up!! Woo!! Also, any line that Hawkeye has in the entire book is hysterical. Or maybe it’s the line “That was a haiku, chumps!” Gosh, there’s just an awful lot to love here…just go buy it.
4 months ago