It’s been a little over two years since DC published the last issue of writer/artist Art Baltazar and co-writer Franco Aureliani’s Tiny Titans ongoing monthly series, and the pair has hardly been idle since then. For DC, they created the short-lived Superman Family Adventures and wrote the even-shorter-lived Green Team: Teen Trillionaires, as well as taking their signature style to Dark Horse to apply to Mike Mignola’s creations in Itty Bitty Hellboy, and working on the creator-owned Aw Yeah Comics! The “Return To The Treehouse” sub-title of their return engagement on Tiny Titans, a six-issue miniseries that will provide enough pages for a nice trade paperback collection, could just as easily refer to Baltazar and Aureliani as it does the little kid versions of the various DC super-teens that star in the book.
You could probably take the “to” out of the sub-title and make it an imperative: Return The Treehouse, and it would apply quite nicely to the story the pair are telling here.
The book opens with Superboy, Supergirl, Krypto and Streaky flying back to the Tiny Titans treehouse headquarters directly from their adventures in the pages of Superman Family Adventures (Quite literally so: “Looking forward to seeing the Titans! Can’t wait to tell them about our Superman Family Adventures!” Supergirl says on the flight there). But the treehouse is gone, having been shrunken and bottled Bottle City of Kandor-style by Brainiac 5 and Psimon, who are trying to get their shrinking badge from the Brainiac Club.
The Super kids head to the Batcave and enlist Robin and Ace the Bathound in the search. After a series of missteps and unlikely cameos from DC Universe grown-ups, they find The Brainiacs and their bottled treehouse, but before they can get it back, grown-up Brainiac’s skull ship arrives and beams it up, leaving the Tiny Titans in need of a new headquarters.
The new version of Tiny Titans is structured identically to the old, with short, more-or-less standalone gag strips every two pages or so. Where this issue differs is that the strips are all more connected, telling a single story from beginning to end and, from the open-ended conclusion, it looks like the search for a new treehouse will continue into #2 as well, perhaps occupying the whole series.
Baltazar and Aureliani’s sense of humor and their takes on the various characters hasn’t changed a bit, nor has Baltazar’s art style, although it’s probably worth noting the new series does reflect the changes to the characters made in Superman Family Adventures, and acknowledge the passage of time. The Titans are all slightly less Tiny now, in some cases closer to their more tween-like appearances in SFA, and some of them have slightly different looks (Raven got a haircut, Robin’s replaced his green pixie boots with black tennis shoes and has a new pair of shorts, etc). Nowhere is this more notable than in the appearance of Krypto and Ace, who are no longer puppies, but look like their full-grown counterparts from Capstone’s DC Super-Pets line of chapter books (illustrated by Baltazar, of course).
While it’s great to have Tiny Titans back, there is one downside to this particular reunion: It may remind fans to retroactively miss the book all the more now that it’s not on the new comics rack every single month.