DC comics is teaming with Capstone's Picture Window Books to produce a series of two dozen leveled chapter books for kids. The two year project pairs Tiny Titans creator Art Baltazar with Picture Window's stable of writers to bring the pets of the DCU to school libraries and book stores. DC Super Pets (not to be confused with the animated 1992 Bobcat Goldthwait vehicle Capitol Critters), will introduce children to the many super-powered animals chasing cars in Central City and bounding over Smallville's cornfields. Specific pets have yet to be named, but DC's Source Blog has announced the first six titles in the series:
Heroes of the High Seas
The Fastest Pet on Earth
Midway Monkey Madness
Pooches of Power!
Royal Rodent Rescue
Super Hero Splash Down
I think it's safe to assume we'll be seeing Krypto or Ace the Bat-Hound in Pooches of Power, but who's the Fastest Pet on Earth? Comet the Super-Horse? A new Flash themed pet? Barry Allen's peregrine falcon Antonio? Maybe there are some clues in this image of the Tiny Titans pet club. You can definitely see some potential Midway Madness in there.
I think the knee-jerk reaction is probably to see this as a response to Marvel's Pet Avengers line, but this is a horse of a different color. DC Super Pets seems to be aimed squarely at the school library system, described more as a series of illustrated prose books for young readers. Baltazar's visual style has an vibrant, energetic appeal, and the combination of animals and bold comic characters demands instant attention. For Capstone, it seems like a true slam dunk. As for DC, they're getting their iconic characters into the hands of new readers. If they're not putting physical comics into the mix, they're at least introducing the players, the sensibility, and the visual flair at the heart of their stories. It's one crucial step towards attracting new readership. At the same time, it's a nice way of using the DC characters for education, whether the goal of the series is to explore simple language arts or to also promote leadership, honesty, and fairness.
The first books are set to debut in January.