REVIEW: Tiny Titans #41

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The Tiny Titans crew takes on DC’s latest major event in a fashion only Art Baltazar and Franco can dream up, as Kid Flash sharpens his pencil to a Flashpoint and a Flash mob has a race! Aw yeah Titans!

Tiny Titans #41
Writers: Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar
Cover: Art Baltazar
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Tiny Titans: In Tiny Titans #1 we were introduced to the students of Sidekick City Elementary–a school that brings together multiple generations of Teen Titans seamlessly with little regard for the constraints of DCU continuity. Since then Art and Franco have built up a self-consistent universe of their own, cleverly parodying DC events such as when lunch lady Darkseid became principal for a day and made everyone take their end of the year exams, bringing on a Finals Crisis, or when the lights in the school went out bringing on the Blackest Night (and the only source of light was flashlights and various colored lanterns). Now the Titans glibly take on Flashpoint, in the successor to Tiny Titans #16′s racing issue.

Story Time’s Not Just For The Kids!

Ironically, I was just listening to the ‘Major Spoilers Podcast #71: Goats and Gods of 2008,’ where Stephen, Matthew and Rodrigo discussed their favorite and least favorite things of 2008. One of Stephen’s choices was major publishers putting out more kid-friendly comics. As someone who looks forward to having children of my own that I can share my love of comics with someday, I am always on the lookout for great titles that both I and my future progeny might enjoy. My fiancée and I both adore Tiny Titans, as Art and Franco do an exquisite job of including enough humor and references to the mainstream DCU that at least once an issue I get that knowing smirk on my face and think “Aha! I see what they did there…” and get to feel all smug and clever for catching the joke.

The storyline in Tiny Titans #41 isn’t all that complicated, so I’ll highlight it for you: Kid Flash and Inertia decide to have a race along with Mas y Menos, and then Peek-a-boo and Jessie Quick decide to join them. This turns into the Flash Boys versus the Flash Girls, where Flash is just a title arbitrarily assigned to any speedster, apparently. Meanwhile Blue Beetle decides to build a lemonade stand (the wager for the big race is that the losers have to buy the lemonade for the winners), but unfortunately his backpack (the sentient Scarab) forgot to pack the lemons. The stand is built in the path of the Flash’s race, and his hard work gets trampled by what Wonder Girl cleverly refers to as a “Flash mob,” but Mas y Menos have a cute scene where they help Blue Beetle rebuild the stand lightning-quick. The three converse in Spanish, and while normally it irks me when an American comic features dialogue in another language without translation, the actions of the character explain the dialogue well enough to make knowledge of Spanish unnecessary. Lobo–the gym teacher at Sidekick City Elementary–also makes an appearance as a spectator for the race. He served as the referee for the first major Titans race in Tiny Titans #16, which Raven “won” when she accidentally walked over the finish line while leaving the library. Again in this issue Raven wins, as she teleports out and is knocked into Coach Lobo’s arms by the stampeding Flash mob. Lobo then takes the Titans to Blue Beetle’s lemonade stand, where he buys them all glasses of Jaime’s All Natural Lemon-Free Lemonade.

This issue is pretty standard fare for Tiny Titans; there’s lots of humor, some cute jokes and DCU references. As I mentioned, there are several clever references to previous issues of Tiny Titans, something that Art and Franco have been doing more and more as their issue count has gotten higher. Sometimes when they reference themselves it feels like they’re running out of jokes and having to rely on their old material, but in this issue it still feels fresh. Coach Lobo is one of my favorites of the Sidekick Elementary staff (Lunch-lady Darkseid being my favorite), and his ridiculous obliviousness is a delight to read. All the character interaction is fun, and overall everything’s written exactly how it should be for a kid-friendly comic. No complaints here!

The Name’s Baltazar. Art Baltazar.

Tiny Titans’ art style is just plain cute. It’s definitely intended to grab the attention of children with its strong and vibrant colors and thick lines, and the simplistic style Art Baltazar uses for his characters’ faces conveys a surprising amount of nuance. Coach Lobo’s look of excitement when he hears the Flashes are racing around the world is classic and hilarious, and the way the Titans’ eyes shift from filled-in dots for normal expressions to carat symbol (the ^ key on your keyboard) when they are happy really captures the joyous vibe that the entire book gives off. I got to meet Art and Franco at C2E2 this past year, and bought crayon drawings–Janitor Darkseid from Art, and Green Arrow and Black Canary together, as well as a drawing of Gail Simone from Franco–from each of them. They charge $1 per character, which is a great deal in my opinion. There isn’t a ton to say about the Art, other than to give it a classic Tiny Titans “Aw yeah, art!

The Verdict: Good, Light-Hearted Fun.

Overall I really enjoyed this comic. Tiny Titans never fails to brighten my day. It may be aimed at kids, but as a 20 year old college student I love this title as much as the 5 year olds that were mobbing Art and Franco’s table at C2E2. If you’ve never given Tiny Titans a try, this may be a good issue to jump on with. There hasn’t been any word yet on what’s happening to Tiny Titans in the relaunch, (Art and Franco said on twitter that they may be rebooting and reshoe-ing the characters) but hopefully the title will be here to stay with Art and Franco on it for as long as the two of them want to make it! A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.

Rating: ★★★★½