Welcome to my new weekly column about comics — and comics culture — for kids! Want to get your children or nieces and nephews hooked on comic books? Start here! Today’s post is a review of two recent Tiny Titans releases from DC Comics, Tiny Titans: The Treehouse and Beyond trade paperback, and Tiny Titans #47
The Treehouse and Beyond collects Tiny Titans#33-38 and focuses on tales like that of the multiple Robins (the Red Hood wears a red bucket on his head and Damian is apparently feral) and other-dimensional dopplegangers of the Titans. To be honest, I kept getting the feeling reading the book like I was way behind on my DC continuity knowledge…and also that I was being given a CliffsNotes lesson on certain aspects of it. But there were also gentle, and at times quite subtle, commentaries by writers Art Baltazar and Franco on various DC lore that I picked up on and appreciated: for example, a little version of Cassandra Cain opting for the scary black Batgirl outfit and creeping the Barbara Gordon version out.
Kids will respond to artist Baltazar’s endearing miniature versions of the DCU crew (reminding me, in both look and tone, of Peanuts meets Calvin and Hobbes), and the at-times surreal nature of the storytelling. Not every story or plot point ends in a “neat” resolution — but instead some just fade into bizarre (though adorable) non sequiturs. It is the absurdist humor of the comic that is the most appealing to me, giving it a “weight” that goes beyond many other comics for kids. Tiny Titans is often just really strange, as the best of children’s fare such as Spongebob Squarepants or Yo Gabba Gabba! is strange.
If you’re a Bat-Fan you’ll find more to love in Tiny Titans#47, continuing the adventures of bucket-head Jason Todd and doggie Damian. The somewhat obscure Titan Bumblebee has a starring role as a babysitter, and “Mrs. Atom” (am I the only one who thought of the ill-fated Jean Loring here?) and a flipper-handed Miss Martian are also on-board.
So if you’re a DC fan and looking for a good “starter” comic for the child in your life — or just want a whimsical bit of “indie”-styled cartooning — these Tiny Titans offerings are a good bet.