I know some of you, especially those of you with kids, have been reading Tiny Titans for a while. And if you haven't been reading the series, go out and find the collections. They're absolute gold when it comes to funny comics, especially if you follow DC Comics.
Possibly due to the reboot of the DCU, sadly, Tiny Titans has now wound down.
Not to fret, Art Baltazar and Franco's work lives on! Not only is Art Baltazar illustrating the superlative line of fun kid's books under the Super Pets banner published by Capstone (catch up with Krypto, Streaky, Ace the Bathound and others!), Franco and Baltazar have moved their efforts over to a new kid's book: Superman Family Adventures.
The first issue arrived on Wednesday, and we gave it a read Wednesday night.
Yup, its a "New 52" inspired Superman operating in a Silver Age milieu, right alongside Super Pets, his young pals, Lois, Jimmy and The Chief. And, of course, Lex Luthor and his rampaging robots. The book is a first issue, and so its perhaps not the well oiled machine we came to expect of Tiny Titans, but its already got the peppy voice of the Tiny Titans book, but with longer-form content.
Unlike Tiny Titans, this comic isn't a "gag" comic, but takes the length of the issue to tell the story. It's a change in format, but the spirit seems mostly the same. And if you liked running jokes in Tiny Titans, one nice bit about the Amazing World of Superman is that there are already plenty of running jokes for Franco and Baltazar to draw upon (Jimmy's role as "coffee fetcher" for Perry White, Clark's winkiness when it comes to his secret identity, etc...).
In a lot of ways, DC has serious ground to make up when it comes to restoring Superman to the good graces of the public. A ponderous 2006 movie, the drudgery of ten (10!) seasons of Smallville, and doing absolutely nothing to react to 20 years of press, comics and otherwise, rambling about the irrelevancy of Superman. And, of course, DC's own staff seeming to want to do everything in their powers to avoid owning the big, crazy world of Superman so they could pretend that comics are for serious adults (or, at least, 18 year olds trying to identify with a broody Batman).
So maybe reminding people why this world works once you take yourself out of the context of competing for Punisher readers - aiming at the kids may be exactly the right tack. In many ways, its two completely different milieus that just happen to co-mingle in the wild world of superhero comics. But as The Punisher was meant to reflect a Bronson-type character in the Marvel U, it may be a wise move to find ways to use various characters to reach different audiences. Or exploit how that audience feels about different characters to cover various bases.
The single most useless comment I read online about this book basically boiled down to "I like everything about it, but I'm a Batman fan, so I would have preferred a Batman family book". That sort of navel-gazing doesn't really get you anywhere. It's a bit like watching Star Trek and criticizing it for not being Star Wars or wishing you had the beef sandwich instead of the ham. But I wonder. Its not that I think that can't work, but DC has spent so much time rebranding Batman into The Dark Knight, they pulled the superlative Brave and the Bold from television to make room for a cartoon more in line with the grim avenger model. Certainly they don't want to miss an opportunity for profit? Maybe we'll get a sister Batman book out of all this.
Really, I have nothing but positive things to say about the comic. They start off without bothering to discuss Superman's origin, rockets from Krypton, etc... and they leap right into the action with Superman joyfully saving Metropolis from collision with a meteor(ite?), running into the Planet offices as Clark, and hitting the streets when Lex unleashes three robots to wreak havoc.
The art is energetic and extremely kid friendly (see the cover above). I'm always impressed with the range of character and expression Baltazar pulls off as a cartoonist given the simple forms he's working with, but that's what makes him so favored as a cartoonist by fans, I suppose.
Anyway, its a very promising start and a missing component in DC's line of books. And that missing component has been anything resembling "fun" or "joy", which, if you go back over Superman's long and storied history, has been where he's shone as often as when he's battled the forces of evil with a set jaw and narrowed eyes.
I saw that Comics Alliance had posted a preview. I think you should check it out.