Tiny Titans, Enormous Disappointment

Tiny Titans #1If you look in the pull list discussion from last week you’ll see that DC Comics’ Tiny Titans by Art Baltazar and Franco was one of my most anticipated comic books of the week. I’m a huge fan of the Titans in all forms as well as the toddlerization of well known characters (see: Muppet Babies). I also am a fan of comic strips.  I was hoping for an entertaining mix of all of these elements into a comic book made just for me.

No dice.

Now, in the book’s defense, it was clearly marketed as being for kids and even though I am a very large kid most of the time, I am not the target audience for this book. But the problem is that this book doesn’t seem to be for kids, either. The stories require at least a cursory knowledge of the characters and their relationships. One of the jokes depends on you knowing that Deathstroke is Ravager’s father.

So I have to ask — who is this book for, exactly?

Not having kids (that I am aware of) I can only use myself as an example.  When I was 5 or 6 years old I was avidly reading G.I. Joe comics. I was reading comic books (of all kinds) well before then but I have definitive memories of passing G.I. Joe comics around between my friends in kindergarten, so I’ll use that as a benchmark. The level of complexity to the stories in Tiny Titans is more analogous to See Spot Run than G.I. Joe, which makes me wonder if this is a comic book meant for children who have just learned to read. But is a child who has just learned to read going to laugh because Trigon is the new substitute teacher at a school for sidekicks?

Another weird thing about this comic book is that the paper stock is of a much lower grade than modern day comics. This allows for a lower, $2.25 price tag which would indicate this comic is… what? More kid friendly? The age level this comic appears to be geared towards is going to have a comic book purchased for them by an adult and I’m not sure what the 75 cent difference between this and a normal comic book is going to mean. Or maybe it’s on rougher paper stock to allow for Crayon coloring (there is a maze activity page in the back) but if that is the case, they really missed out by not putting a black and white “color me!” page in the back of the book.

Going into this book I was hoping for a DC version of Mini Marvels or of Chris Eliopoulos’ Franklin Richards series. A cartoony comic book that both kids and adults could enjoy. Instead, Tiny Titans is a book that is way too thin. There is no “there” there. There’s nothing to latch onto. Gordon the Intern said it well in his review of the book – even little kids like stories, and there just isn’t enough of a story in Tiny Titans.

Tiny Titans in school!I don’t like to be completely negative so I will say that the cartooning from Art Baltazar is fantastic. His characters are funny and have great expressions. He perfectly captures each Titan in mini form. I love the little touches — like a lowercase “r” on Robin’s chest. It’s a great looking book. And the concept itself is great! Tiny versions of the Titans crossing all eras — from the originals (Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Kid Flash, Aqualad) to the Wolfman/Perez era (Cyborg, Changeling, Starfire, Raven) to the current team (Miss Martian, Ravager, Kid Devil, Wonder Girl) and even a guest star (Batgirl) — and they all attend school together. This is ripe for all ages fun!

All of the elements are there for me to fall in love with this book but in the end it was probably the biggest disappointment I’ve had in comics in a long while. I haven’t looked forward to a book so much and have it so miss the mark of what I was hoping it would be. Like Gordon the Intern, I’ll give this book one more shot to see if DC can figure out just who this book is for, exactly, because I don’t see a lot of toddlers in the comic shops. We talk a lot around here about getting more kids to read comics but this might be going to far in that direction.


  1. Maybe I wasn’t as disappointed, but I sure agree on many of these points. I liked the more extended stories with Batgirl and the one about Cassie’s costume, but with the shorter ones I found myself saying, "Okay, so what’s the point?" They didn’t have enough punch to the punchline to make them work. I too was confused about who this was targeted at. Again the longer stories I think could be considered "all-ages" and entertaining, but the short ones, as you rightly pointed out, require a pretty good knowledge of the Titans to get. For once I think this book is hurt a bit by the fact that Baltazar and Franco are Titans fans (I read a Newsarama interview with them about the book), and basically writing this first issue for themselves.

    While I think a lot of this first issue fell flat, the stuff I liked gave me hope that they’ll work out the bugs eventually.

  2. I read this in store and while I was impressed with the design of the characters I just couldn’t force myself to purchase a copy.  The stories, as everyone else has said, were virtually nonexistent.  If you love great design this book may suit your needs, but if you need a story, forget about it.

  3. I’m actually baffled that anyone thought this would be worth reading, much less actually buying.  It never would have occured to me that a book like this would have an audience anywhere on the planet.

    Of course, I said a similar thing about the Muppet Babies and I still believe whoever conceived the X-Babies should be imprisoned and tortured regularly at Gitmo.

    I just don’t get it.


  4. If you read classic Uncle Scrooge comics by Carl Barks you’ll get adventure and gag filled stories that are still hugely popular in Europe and enjoyed by kids and adults.  I think that’s the hoped for appeal.  Franklin Richards is a pretty good example.


  5. I read the banner headline for this story before I had a chance to read it myself, so I quickly looked away. Well, now that I’ve had a chance to read throught the issue, I have to say I pretty much agree.

    I think this book suffers a bit from my high expectations based on the promo art. You’re right Conor, this seemed like DC’s answer to Mini Marvels and Eliopolis’ Franlin Richards, and artistically, I think it is. But the story-writing needs some serious bulking up.

    I doubt I will pick this up again, even for my kids. Although I just handed it to them after reading it myself and they were all thrilled. I’ll be interested to hear their final opinion after reading it. 

    All-in-all this doesn’t offer much that Teen Titans Go hasn’t already delivered better.

  6. UPDATE: ok, apparently this book was written for 8 and 10 year-old girls, who have previously loved the Teen Titans cartoon series and have some passing knowledge of other TT characters… because my three girls LOVED this book. I have to admit that while my oldest recited the storylines, I started enjoying them too, even more than when I had read them myself. And be honest, the Beast Boy story really was gosh darn cute! But I will maintain that the writing could be better. Gags and such are great, but this is going to need some semblance of a plot if it’s going to be anything more than a 1-shot.

  7. My oldest, she is is 7. She absolutely loved this book. Hearing her giggle when she reads this book is worth every penny I spent on it. She is on board.

    Now my youngest, he is 5. It was game over when he got to the JLA short story in the back. "Dad, I don’t want this book anymore. This one here (*sticks backup story in my face*). Dad, I want this one!"

    Just giving the reports here.


  8. I at least hope it wasn’t as disturbing as X-babies. . .

  9. Well here what i have to say. This was dispionting story wise i  don’t think it will get better in th 2nd iusse. I would suggest maybe writing a friendly ietter to the editer or something to that point. The one story i did like was the one adout Speedys name because i don’t get why his name is speedy too. I mean he doest fun fast or any thing. Come on call him arrow kid or somthing.

    But art wise this was very good i love all the tiny titans.  

  10. I was disapointed as well, but like you Conor, I’m not the target audience. I did however buy it with my 3 year old daughter in mind. She liked looking at the pictures and stuff, but I think she’s going to like the Super Friends comic that’s coming considering she has all the toys. This just did not hold her interest. Of course, she can’t read yet, but I have a feeling that when she can read, she’ll have already moved on to something a little more advanced. 

  11. I completely agree with Conor’s assessment.  This was one of my most anticipated books for the week, and I couldn’t help but feel a little let down.  While the format of the comic was very "Franklin Richards-esque," the punch lines were either bad or kind of out there (I know very little about the actual Teen Titans).  What I was hoping to be charming turned out to be a pretty boring comic.  This would be right at home for the little tykes, but I was hoping for something an adult could enjoy as well. 

    I can’t really complain though…I don’t think my wallet could have handled another monthly book.

  12. I’m willing to give it another issue or two.  4 year old son liked it a little, but it’s been sitting out all week and he hasn’t gone back to it.  Bummer.

  13. I have a 2 year old daughter and when we walked into the comics store she went right for this book. 

    No where else straight to this book.  How could I not buy it?  All the way home from the store she

    laughed and laughed.  She has "read"it everyday since.  This will be an addition to my pull list just to

    see her reading comics.

  14. It was fun, I think perhaps your expectations were too high… or maybe mine were just low?  I don’t read much of (if any) of the other series your referred to – so it’s that much harder for me to judge.  I enjoyed it… but, I also can’t see me buying it on a regular basis. 

    Regardless, I appreciated the book… and I think that you’re being a little too harsh on it.

  15. Hmm, I think I might get this for my 7 year-old girl and see if she likes it.  I don’t know why adults would think that this is something for them?  Sure, it’s nice when adults can enjoy kids’ entertainment, but I don’t know if I’d ever feel let down when this doesn’t happen.

  16. @ultimatehoratio – I think you need to read what I wrote again.   It’s a more complex issue than just being "letdown" by a kid’s book.

  17. I got this expecting it to be skewed young, but, wow, it’s skewed *really* young.  This is obviously not the book for me and it make’s me glad the powers at DC decided not to cancel Teen Titans Go and JLU.  I’m glad I bought the issue, just to have a utterly charming kid-friendly comic in my Teen Titans collection, but I’m not going to pick up the series.  I’m still optimistic about the new Shazam book, though!

    BTW, this is my first post to iFanboy ever, after being a fan of the podcasts for the last few months!  See you guys at Wondercon! 

  18. Welcome, Mandi!

  19. i also agree with conor…the muppet babies and franklin richards are friggin brilliant…but i think that the concept can work only when there is a large gap spanned from the youngification of the characters and/or the point of view and the actual ages…since the teen titas are teens…tiny titans are only 5 years ago…not as interesting…but way to go any creator taking chances at something that could be interesting…

  20. yeah got the book last week and i although i didn’t think it was awful after reading it i just felt like it just left me standing there. i’ll flip through the next issue but i don’t think it’s making it to my pull list.  


  21. I just finished this and i didn’t think it was that bad. I think it really is meant for the younger set and us ‘older folk’ could probably appreciate some of the inside stuff…i’ll keep getting it, if not only to give to my 6 year-old. It’s certainly not Teen Titans East or West, but it is what it is and will appeal to the saturday morning set!