When it was revealed that Stephanie Brown wouldn’t be returning as Batgirl, Art Baltazar and his partner-in-crime Franco came to the rescue, featuring both Stephanie AND the fan-favorite Secret Six in this issue of Tiny Titans! Aw yeah relaunch-avoidance!
Previously in Tiny Titans: We’ve had a couple Batgirls (Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain) and more Robins than you can shake a batarang at (Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Toddler, Damian, Carrie, and anyone else who could get their hands on a Robin costume).
STILL NOT MUCH STEPHANIE
Despite being initially interested in Gail Simone writing Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, my optimism is quickly wearing as nothing has really grabbed me and convinced me that taking Bryan Q Miller off writing Stephanie was worthwhile. When I heard that Stephanie would be appearing in Tiny Titans, I felt once more justified in having the book on my pull list. Unfortunately, Art and Franco don’t give Stephanie anything particularly memorable to do (she isn’t even on the cover; apparently Bette Kane, the pre-Crisis Batgirl, is more important), instead making the driving portion of the book the soccer game between the Birds of Prey and the Secret Six, showing off their fanboy-ism for Gail. Side-anecdote: At the 2011 C2E2 I commissioned Franco to do a doodle of Gail and then went over and gave it to her. She thought it was adorable! Soon afterward, the three of them started getting into a lot more twitter-conversations, so I claim some probably-undeserved responsibility in that creative synergy.
Tiny Titans is typically a series of short two to six-page stories that have some sort of through-line to them, but can easily by digested in small bits by children (warning: do not feed your children issues of Tiny Titans). Rather than have Stephanie be the through-line for the book, instead Pantha (who didn’t suffer in the relaunch, in that she wasn’t actively around BEFORE the relaunch either) is the character who goes through all the minor plots. Apparently she is an incredible soccer player, and (up until the final sequence at least) is decidedly NOT a bat.
I really wanted to love this issue, but the writing just never really grabbed me. I have been known to get lots of awkward looks while trying unsuccessfully to stifle laughter while reading past issues of Tiny Titans during classes, but the only pages that succeeded in getting me to laugh this issue were Damian Wayne getting bucked from the back of the bat-cow so hard that he went into the soccer net during the soccer match between the Robins and the League of “Just Us Cows”, and the “Dress-up” page at the end of the book where Aqualad is dressed up like Ambush Bug.
The art pretty much standard Tiny Titans fare; notable differences between this and normal issues is the inclusion of the Secret Six, who have some character designs that don’t really lend themselves to a Tiny Titans treatment. Art Baltazar does a good job for the most part with this—I love his interpretation of Rag Doll—but Jeanette just looks strange, and I really don’t care for the Bane. I will admit to chuckling a bit under my breath at Scandal standing there holding a fork though.
The Verdict: Not What I Wanted
If you were considering picking this book up to get a small Stephanie Brown fix, I cannot recommend this. If you were wanting to see the Secret Six again, they really don’t get much characterization either, Catman being the only one of them who even says anything. As much as I wanted to love this book, I can only give it 2.5 stars out of 5.