Friday, June 1, 2012

Recommended Reading for 6/1: Tiny Titans

I really enjoy a good all ages comic, and I feel like appealing to multiple age groups is something that the comic market does better (if not as often as it should) than most other medias. As a matter of fact, I have a whole post about this coming down the pike. But today, I'm here to talk about one particular all ages comic: Tiny Titans.

Tiny Titans was the brain child of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. I've been following their careers since their earlier creator-owned project, Patrick the Wolf Boy, the story of a cute little werewolf and his wacky adventures, which was a ton of fun, and when Tiny Titans was announced, I was thrilled to hear that these guys would be working for DC, and only hoped that their new book would be as fun as Patrick. And I was not disappointed.

The Tiny Titans is a collection of pretty much everyone who has ever been a Titan, and pretty much any other DC sidekick you can imagine. While the mian cast is probably Dick Grayson, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, Kid Flash, and Starfire, a lot of other characters have gotten spotlights. Both Wonder Girls, Superboy, all the Batgirls, and Aqualad have all had their own spotlight issues, and the Terra has always been around as Beast Boy's love interest, although she tends to just throw rocks at him. The adult cast is mostly the teachers at Sidekick Elementary: Principal Slade, Mr. Trigon, Dr. Light the science teacher, Lobo the gym coach, and Darkseid, who I'll get to in a bit. Alfred also has a recurring role, as the kids spend a lot of time in and around Wayne Manor, and in their Treehouse clubhouse. Most other grown-ups are shown Peanuts-style, from the waist down, but the Titans' famous mentors are all pretty easily identifiable.

Tiny Titans is one of those comics that I have sat down and read with my seven year old neice, and we have both found things to enjoy. Her favorite character was Beast Boy, or as she called him, "the silly green boy." One of the many joys of the title is how it can be full of action and adventure, but not violence. There are stakes, even if they are the stakes for a group of little kids: Robin let a group of penguins into the Batcave and the Titans have to find a way to help him get them out; Bumblebee has to babysit the Baby Titans, and find them when they run off in Metropolis. They are fun little adventure stories that anyone can enjoy.

The joy that I find as a more established and older reader of comics is how Art and Franco find ways to make me laugh by using those expectations and that knowledge.Who in the world ever imagined seeing Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips and God of Evil like this?

Yes, Principal Slade and Mr. Trigon are talking to Lunchlady Darkseid. And never ones to shy away from what's going on in the main DCU, Tiny Titans had it's own unofficial Blackest Night tie-in...

and an appearance by the mysterious Pandora when she appeared at the beginning of the New 52.

Last week's issue of Batman Incorporated, which I reviewed on Monday, takes things the other way, and actively brings a bit of Tiny Titans continuity into the DC Universe, with the first mainstream appearance of Batcow, a recurring character in the title.

Another odd but amusing supporting character is Kroc, a sort of version of Killer Croc, who just tends to wander around and cause mischief. I never thought I would view a character who appears in the DCU chewing on people as adorable, but, well, I kinda do here.

I do have to mention my favorite single issue of Tiny Titans, which is issue #33, the All Robins Issue (I know, me loving a comic centered around Bat characters, shocking).

Over the course of the issue, not only do we spend time with Dick Grayson, but Tim Drake and Jason Toddler (yeah, you heard the pun) show up, as well as Carrie Kelly, Stephanie Brown, and even Batgirls Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain.  The Baby Titans even get in on the act.

By the end, a very frustrated Dick changes his name and costume to Nightwing (although it doesn't really stick after this issue).

It's adorable fun, and at the very end, a new surprise bundle of joy pops up:

Tiny Titans Damien's overbite never ceases to make me giggle.

On a personal note, I just have to also add the Art and Franco are just two of the nicest creators I have ever had the pleasure to meet. At NYCC a couple years ago, I was able to chat with them both a little, and they were wonderfully gracious with me and excellent with their little fans. I was even able get a couple of sketches, an Alfred from Franco, and from Art, what is one of the favorite sketches I have ever received, the three main Robins hanging out with a wolfed-out Patrick the Wolf Boy dressed in a Robin costume. I plan to include that sketch in an upcoming post about my quest to complete my Batman-themed sketchbook.

While Tiny Titans ended a few months ago after a solid 50 issue run, Art and Franco's new DC All-Ages title, Superman Family Adventures, debuted this week. There are currently six Tiny Titans trades available, with a seventh coming out in late June, and I'm sure an eighth to finish out the series. There is also a three issue spin-off mini teaming the Titans up with the Little Archies, and two picture books, Tiny Titans Go Camping! and Tiny Titans and the Science Fair! So, with that, we close out this week's recommended reading, with the rallying cry of the Tiny Titans, "Aw Yeah, Titans!"

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