TINY TITANS: RETURN TO THE TREEHOUSE #2 by beloved Art Baltazar and Franco continues our return to the Tiny Titans world and boy is it a relief to be back.
I adore Tiny Titans and am glad they are back with this mini-series. It’s a bit less wonky than Teen Titans Go! but it has a continued charm that I’ve always liked.
I was dismayed when the original Tiny Titans title, one of the few aimed at children and tweens (or teens…or adults who don’t like superhero melodrama…or…or…) released by DC featuring superheros, was cancelled. I was equally dismayed at the swift cancellation of their follow-up Superman Family Adventures which featured slightly different versions of Superboy and Supergirl.
The charm here continues in spades as the Titans look for their treehouse, which has been shrunken by Psimon and Brianiac 5 and is now missing. From first page they provide a key to translate Khaji Da, Blue Beetle’s talking alien “backpack” who is a bit snarky and so far has spoken quite a lot. The moderate and cartoony tone; “let’s venture through the arctic to get to The Fortress of Solitude and use the crystals to just call Brainac on the phone” is one that appeals to me. I enjoy really moderate tone for superheros, with degrees of not taking the medium seriously. Li’l Gotham, Teen Titans Go!, Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures and Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM succeed in this department. Will I take a really gripping sort of violent story too? Sure. But we need more of these.
I am continually impressed by Baltazar’s ability to draw really awesome versions of everyone’s costumes. His Supergirl and Superboy costumes in particular are favorites and he makes Superman’s red underwearless uniform look great.
With the title? None. Digressional humor that can involve Bizarro-Ducks is way up my alley.
With the company? Quite a few. A big problem with DC Comics today is that it has a broken model when it comes to target demographics. They persist in trying to sell titles to men 18-55 (or older technically yeesh) which overall at best will sell 25k copies a month (I’d say average for most titles, perhaps I’m being generous) but meanwhile most of their money is made via merchandising: toys, costumes, t-shirts, most of which for children. This is where you run into what I call the “Batgirl Problem”. Girls love Batgirl; they buy sneakers and products with Babs Batgirl on them, they see her in cartoons. But young girls, even tweens really can’t read the current Batgirl book. It’s too dark and gritty for the really young ones. Not to say books need to be cleaned up but there is an odd disparity at work here with merchandise versus comics. Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! are great examples of where structuring TV and comic series explicitly for children and teens can be runaway successes. I think if DC took some risks and really pushed Tiny Titans and other like titles, they could be making up for where most of their regular superhero line is failing to take hold.
Being said, I love Tiny Titans and what it stands for. It’s fun. It’s refreshing. GO BUY IT.